Pragmatic Advice on Optimizing Data Centers

Government organizations must take a more ‘holistic’ view of the equipment in their data center operations to get the biggest return on their investment

To truly optimize data center operations and get the biggest return on related investments, government organizations must take a more ‘holistic’ view of the equipment housed there, say industry observers.

For example because virtualization reduces the number of physical machines used, there’s an obvious opportunity to reduce both real estate and electricity requirements. While government organizations may still be more accustomed to five-year implementation cycles, the pace of technological innovation makes virtualization a ‘fully mature’ technological solution for government organizations to deploy wherever they can, according to Nathan Coutinho, a Solutions Manager for CDW focusing on virtualization. With more than 1,000 virtualization assessments under its belt, CDW clearly understands what it takes to successfully optimize data center operations using virtualization and cloud-based services, both in the public and private sectors. Even for organizations that were ahead of the curve and opted to virtualize servers five years ago, “the hardware today is up to ten times faster,” Coutinho continued.

“This means that while we could normally consolidate 100 physical servers down to 15, we can now consolidate it down to 6-8 because of the advancement in server cores and memory footprints,” he explained.

Coutinho expects the recently launched Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 25-point plan to reform federal IT management, with its ‘cloud-first’ purchasing requirement, will further accelerate the government’s pace of adoption for both virtualization and cloud computing to achieve data center optimization. Increasingly, CDW-G is seeing faster adoption rates among both government and higher education audiences, “due to the growing requirements to comply with federal cloud mandates,” he explained.

CDW-G officials recommend federal agencies consider applying these best practices:

Monitor, measure and understand current system performance – Automated tools can track key metrics such as server utilization, available storage capacity and other important elements. It’s impossible to optimize data center resources in the most effective way without a clear understanding of how current systems perform as a baseline.

Leverage Industry Partners – This is where CDW can really help with evaluating the various manufacturers and their available offerings to aid in data center optimization. CDW-G has the expertise to assist any government organization in conducting the search for a clear understanding of which data center products are most appropriate. Where some applications seem tailor-made to certain manufacturers’ products, others may perform better with another virtualization platform, for example. This is where the company’s expertise, working with all of the leading suppliers, really comes in handy.

Virtualize and install blades – Combine virtualization with server consolidation and switch to blade servers. Blades can save up to 25 percent in capital outlays relative to other server form factors.

Redesign the data center – Re-envision the data center before virtualizing servers or other devices. Rather than merely reconfiguring the racks, redesign the whole space. At a minimum, a new server infrastructure likely calls for an overhaul of the cooling and power subsystems.

Go Green – Use the opportunity to reduce square footage and install greener lighting, servers, power/cooling systems and peripherals.

Evaluate Software Licensing – Virtualization can cause duplicative copies of operating systems and applications even though usage is the same. Many software manufacturers are altering their licensing terms to account for virtualization. This can help government organizations reduce expenses in software licensing costs.

About the Author

Barbara DePompa is a freelance writer for 1105 Government Information Group’s Content Solutions unit. This Snapshot report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at [email protected]