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FCW : April 30, 2015
25 CDWG.com | 800.808.4239 A Step-by-Step Approach The first step in any data center consolidation effort should be an agencywide inventory of data centers and applications as well as associated hardware and software. “Agencies typically have multiple data centers with different servers, storage, networking, operating systems, software and IT staffs running them,” says Schulz. “ Much of this comes from regionalization and carries over from the days of decentralization into branch offices.” When looking at which data centers to consolidate or close, IT decision-makers should identify those that have room to grow and those that have reached their capacity. “ Some data centers are very old, out of physical space or power, or just expensive to maintain for some reason,” says Schulz.” These are candidates for closure.” Others may be underutilized and have plenty of room for growth, not only in power and real estate but in underutilized servers and storage. Agencies should also look for ways to consolidate software that serves the same purpose or overlapping purposes. “An agency like the Army is going to have data centers all over the world, and each location may have its own SharePoint, for example,” says Chris Howard, vice president for federal sales at Nutanix. “ Why not consolidate into one SharePoint deployment?” Consolidation can help agencies to deploy the appropriate resources for specific applications. The key is to identify applications that are growing or shrinking and for which agencies have over- or under-provisioned resources, says Anil Desai, an independent IT consultant. “ You may have applications that were built for 1,000 users but are only being used by 200, or vice versa,” he adds. “ Those are good cases where virtualization will help you scale better and have more IT agility.“ As they address these application issues, many agencies have begun thinking about the cloud. Email is a great candidate for migrating to the cloud, since it may be accessed from anywhere by a mobile device. Many agencies have migrated their email services to a cloud provider such as Microsoft or Google, while others have opted for a federally shared private or community cloud service, such as services offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). “DISA does a lot of hosting for the Department of Defense,” says Howard. “All of the Army and many DOD agencies have their email hosted in DISA.“ Many agencies are exploring PaaS services by migrating development platforms and testing to the cloud, which allows them to spin up a testing platform — and tear one down — quickly. The agency pays only for the resources it uses and avoids costly over- provisioning. Cloud backup is another way to test cloud computing without putting production systems at risk. After agencies have rationalized their applications, the next step is to determine which apps can and cannot be virtualized. “Without virtualization there’s very little hope “TWENTY YEARS AGO, SOLDIERS DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING ON THEM THAT COMMUNICATED WITH THE NETWORK. TODAY, JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THEY HAVE — FROM CAMERAS, GPS DEVICES AND TANKS — IS COMPUTERIZED AND TRANSMITS DATA.” — SAM CECCOLA, HP DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ACCOUNT CHIEF TECHNOLOGIST of consolidating,” says Howard. “ Most agencies can certainly virtualize 80 to 90 percent of their environment, with the possible exception of legacy government- created applications where you can’t find the people who developed them.” In data centers where extensive virtualization hasn’t taken place, servers may be at utilization levels as low as 20 percent. Virtualization is the first step toward a private cloud, enabling fast provisioning, automation and user self-service cloud components. Virtualization can also be part of a hardware refresh that takes advantage of more robust infrastructure platforms. Agencies should consider alternative platforms such as blade server technologies and solutions from Cisco, HP, Nutanix and others that converge computing, storage and networking components into a single platform with management software geared to control it all intelligently. These solutions, commonly referred to as converged infrastruc ture, can deliver easier management, agility and reduced data center footprint, which can result in a lower total cost of ownership or TCO. “ You set it up, you virtualize, and thereafter there’s very little virtualization administration,” says Howard of the Nutanix platform. “ It’s like a purpose-built virtualization appliance.” As they pursue data center consolidation, agencies are finding that optimization is a far more important benefit than a raw reduc tion in the number of data centers they run. They must continuously address demands for newer, better and faster services while dealing with flat or declining budgets. A strategic approach to meet these demands — one that includes technologies such as converged infrastructure and cloud computing — will help them deliver services quickly, efficiently and securely. To learn more about the next generation of data center technology, read CDW’s white paper “Defining Moment: The Software-Defined Data Center.” 22-25 GSO MKT14F099.indd 4 3/4/15 3:57 PM
April 15, 2015
May 15, 2015