Forces Driving Consolidation
Organizations are turning to consolidation with increasing frequency, and not only because of the obvious financial benefits. Companies that consider server consolidation may do so for a number of very compelling reasons, including:
- Reduced overall total cost of ownership (TCO). In the current economic climate, keeping costs down is imperative. Consolidation can help you to achieve this is several ways:
- Reduced administration. By standardizing and reducing the number of servers, businesses reduce the complexity of the infrastructure they must administer. Fewer support staff can therefore manage the same service demands. For international companies, this standardization also facilitates the provision of 24/7 support using worldwide support resources.
- Reduced operations costs. Increase in service capacity and growth are achieved with better utilization of resources. Typically, fewer servers are required, resulting in hardware and power savings.
- Reduced data center costs. Site space formerly used for IT services can be returned to the business, and existing facilities can be used more efficiently.
- Reduced revenue loss through higher uptime/availability. Consolidation reduces the cost of implementing high-availability solutions, which reduces revenue losses due to downtime.
- Improved service management. By standardizing and reducing the complexity of service infrastructure, organizations facilitate more effective service management processes, tools, and automated system administration.
- Simplified contingency planning solutions. A simpler service infrastructure means that more services can be restored when a site failure occurs.
- Reduced licensing costs. In most consolidation scenarios, licensing is reduced because there are fewer servers that require licenses. However, even when this is not the case, the other savings you make will still result in a lower TCO.
- Improved quality of service (QoS). Consolidation improves up-time and can deliver better performing systems.
- Increased reliability and availability. Server consolidation makes it more economic to provide high-availability configurations and dedicated support staff. Organizations also benefit from implementing better storage management and service continuity solutions.
- Improved performance. Standardized systems deliver more predictable performance, and proprietary technologies such as data compression can improve query response times.
- Improved infrastructure agility. In uncertain times, flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to changing needs of the business can help to maintain the competitive edge. Consolidation results in a more standardized, centralized and dynamic infrastructure, which makes it possible for systems to be more responsive to change and to quickly adapt to business needs.
- Improved consistency. Consolidating on a single platform improves interoperability, and makes your systems more productive and easier to manage:
- Better integration. Using a single platform makes for better systems integration, which improves data consistency and reduces the complexity of tasks such as extract, transform, and load (ETL) operations.
- Centralized management. Because consolidation facilitates centralized management, it becomes easier to implement standard policies across your systems.
- Reduced carbon footprint. With greater emphasis on sustainability, many organizations are striving to reduce the environmental impact that their activities have. Consolidation enables organizations to reduce their energy consumption by using less hardware as well as by using that hardware more efficiently.
- Improved resource utilization. Organizations may already have the resources that they need in order to consolidate. It is not uncommon for companies that possess powerful servers to be using only a relatively small percentage of those servers’ capacity. Consolidating by using these servers enables a company to make more efficient use of their resources and requires no extra investment in hardware.
Key Enablers for Consolidation
The growing interest in consolidation is due to several factors that make it a realistic proposition for more organizations than before:
- Improvements in hardware. Consolidation relies upon hardware that can handle the increased workload that consolidating brings. However, consolidation does not necessarily require a large investment in high-end servers, and can often be achieved by using standard commodity hardware. In recent years, powerful servers have become available to more organizations as prices have become more affordable. Processors and other hardware have increased in power, with 64-bit systems, multi-core and multi-processor systems now commonplace. Dedicated technologies, such as AMD-V and Intel VT, exist to enable optimal performance in virtualized environments.Data storage systems with improved I/O, including storage area networks (SANs) and network attached storage (NAS) are no longer the preserve of high-performance critical workloads. All of this makes it possible to reduce costs by employing a smaller number of more powerful machines to host consolidated services.
- Improvements in software. As hardware has improved, so has the software that can take advantage of it. The rich feature set offered by Microsoft® SQL Server ® 2008 Enterprise Edition, coupled with the virtualization capabilities of Microsoft Windows Server® 2008, provides a robust, reliable, high-performance platform for consolidation. Specifically, SQL Server 2008 offers:
- Flexible deployment options that enable consolidation in many different scenarios, from a small number of databases on a single instance to multiple instances running in their own dedicated virtual operating systems.
- Administrative tools, such as SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM), and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), that enable you to centrally manage, monitor, and troubleshoot consolidated data systems, resulting in greater efficiency.
- Scalability and performance features that enable your databases to grow without a loss in performance. For example, Resource Governor enables you to manage contention between applications for resources by prioritizing competing workloads.
- Powerful tools and technologies that you can use to migrate data and databases when creating your consolidated solution. These include backup and restore, attach and detach, and SQL Server Integration Services, a powerful extract, transform, and load (ETL) utility that ships with SQL Server 2008 at no extra cost. There are also tools that make it straightforward to upgrade and migrate SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 databases into a consolidated SQL Server 2008 environment.
- A range of high-availability technologies, including up to 16-node clusters and improved failover cluster support when used with Windows Server 2008.
- Advances in networking technologies and improvements in bandwidth. To ensure efficient response times for servers on networks that have multiple sites and limited bandwidth, it has been common practice to place servers within each site on the network. However, as bandwidth availability and networking technologies have improved, it has become possible to centralize servers while maintaining acceptable response times.
- Virtualization. The advent of hypervisor based hardware virtualization software such as Hyper-V™, available with Windows Server 2008, makes it possible to reduce the number of physical servers by replacing them with virtual servers. You can run many virtual servers on a single physical server and move virtual machines from one physical server to another with ease, making it possible to redistribute workloads and to move from test to production environments quickly and with little or no disruption. Virtual servers share the hardware resources of their physical host server, but each virtual server is isolated from the others, has dedicated resources allocated to it, and can be configured with independent security settings as well as other features.
The Trend towards Consolidation
Throughout the industry, there is a growing trend towards consolidation as more companies respond to the drivers and enablers outlined above. In the current economic climate, it is not difficult to see why this is the case, given the savings that consolidation can deliver. Based on research published in a recent Forrester Consulting report( June 2008 “The Forrester Wave™: IT Consolidation Consultancies, Q2 2008” ), Table 1 shows the aggregated responses of various companies to the question:
What are the top database initiatives you are currently pursuing for your enterprise databases?
|Clustering and virtualization||41.2%|
|Automate database administration||38.5%|
|Database archiving (information life-cycle management)||33.1%|