Thinking of beginning a server consolidation program? Keep these tips in mind.
n Do an initial needs assessment. There are different levels of consolidation to fit different scenarios. Many vendors have established procedures that provide detailed assessments. Dell Computer Corp. even has an online return-on-investment calculator that agencies can use to get a quick idea of what benefits consolidation can offer.
* Make a detailed implementation plan. With such a plan, the consolidation will usually be relatively simple. Depending on the technical complexity, the consolidation can take anywhere from half a day to a week.
* Make sure there is buy-in at all levels. Consolidating servers will likely eliminate some of the fiefdoms that arose when there were lots of separate servers, and that can ruffle some feathers. Good and early communication of consolidation plans to all those affected will prevent frustrating turf battles later.
* Don't take it too far. With server consolidation, shrinking the number of servers by X doesn't mean that reducing by 2X is twice as good. Beyond a certain point, such issues as available bandwidth, processing bottlenecks and the creation of single points of failure in the network will jeopardize benefits.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.