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Confusing consolidation for server environments

Despite the current popularity of server consolidation, Gartner Group is warning that it could be more confusing than it first appears.

The recent ACN Unix survey showed that a large number of the region’s organisations already have, or are in the process of, consolidating server environments. 19% of respondents have already reduced the number of servers they manage while 24% plan to do so within the next 12 months. A further 15% said that they planned to consolidate in another year.

The key factors behind this consolidation drive are a desire to cut costs, simplify existing IT infrastructure, ease management headaches and increase availability and security.

However, despite these potential benefits, Gartner Group believes that server consolidation is far from simple and that there is no “magic formula” through which to achieve the afore mentioned benefits.

Anne Powell, of Gartner Group’s hardware platforms division, explains that there is not even a clear definition of what actually constitutes server consolidation and there are at least three different models currently being used.

The first, she says, is logical consolidation where the same processes and system management procedures are adopted for all servers, regardless of their location, to simplify management. The second is physical consolidation where servers are co-locating to reduce the number of different sites to be managed. The final method is rationalised consolidation where the number of servers is reduced by replacing them with more-powerful models that can run more applications more efficiently.

“Each provides a variety of benefits but there are risks too. Careful planning, clear goals and comprehensive, accurate costing is necessary to ensure the success of a server consolidation project. Management buy-in, and team leadership and commitment are also required. IT executives should remember that the right thing to do may be to pull the plug on a failing project,” says Powell.

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