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Server Consolidation -- Beyond the Hardware

By Nelson King (Send Email)
Posted Jun 13, 2002


Common sense holds that if organizations with hundreds, if not thousands, of servers consolidate, cutting the number of servers and server locations, they would save money.

Hardware may be the most obvious component of server consolidation, but it's by far not the only one. This tutorial discusses how and why hardware, software, and human capital must be taken into account when considering undertaking such an endeavor.

Experience on the other hand teaches that making server consolidation pay off can be almost a black art.

Why? Because there are so many factors to juggle, from changes in hardware, to software configuration, to relations with the personnel department. This ServerWatch tutorial will consider some of these factors -- without straying into the black arts.

Here's a good starting point: Except in the most trivial cases, server consolidation is not just about hardware. Of course, using fewer servers is usually one of the goals, but in most cases that is not the way to approach achieving the benefits of server consolidation.

Server consolidation is a means to an end. The means of consolidation include hardware, software, services, and systems management. Server consolidation is also a process (and here's where the black arts comes in) of rationalizing and simplifying not only the physical servers but also the infrastructure that supports them -- and that can mean the human resources as well.

The end goal of server consolidation is a more efficient use of resources and better IT service. What does "efficient" mean in the case of servers? Lower total cost of ownership. And "better services?" Better access to information, improved levels of service (e.g., consistent 24/7/365 operation), and faster response. Under ideal circumstances server consolidation delivers both efficiency and better service.

Just remember that circumstances are not always ideal, however.

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