Most organizations don’t appear fully formed. They start out as small operations to test the market and the concept. Over years or decades, they outgrow facilities, add new products, acquire and merge with other companies, and so on. At any given point in this process, there is generally something to be gained by stepping back and considering how you would set things up if you had a clean sheet of paper.
One byproduct of company mergers and expansions is that you wind up with multiple data centers. Each installation made sense at the time. They are uniquely designed to serve the needs of a certain type of company, a certain size enterprise or certain product line. But when conditions change, you can find that there are creeping inefficiencies that come from patching things together here and there. It all works, but it may be costing you more than it could.
Data center consolidation is an activity that many companies are taking a closer look at, especially as top line growth stagnates and staff has been thinned out. You may not want to put everything in one location for the sake of redundant backup. But you may have bits and pieces here and there that can be easily combined. Fewer locations with fewer servers, larger servers and virtualization are all techniques that ultimately lead to the same or better performance at reduced cost.
Something to bring into the analysis is the cost and availability of bandwidth to support your consolidation efforts. That’s especially true if only the data centers are being consolidated but other operations continue at your geographically diverse locations. You’ll need some way to get data from place to place. That task used to fall to the site LAN, but now you’ll need a WAN connection.
Depending on how much traffic leaves data center and goes to each site, you may not need the same bandwidth that you have on your LAN. Workers at each location need access, of course, but the heavy processing may be local to the data center with just data entry and results going across the WAN. You’ll need to ascertain that bandwidth requirement and then check availability and pricing of bandwidth options.
Fortunately, bandwidth today is cheaper than ever with more options available. Ethernet is becoming more and more popular. It tends to be cheaper per Mbps than traditional T-carrier and SONET services. You can get point to point Ethernet line services or multipoint Ethernet LAN service. MPLS networks are often an excellent solution to the task of interconnecting multiple sites. They offer managed bandwidth, class of service options, and lower costs that proprietary networks.
Some companies are finding the the place to consolidate their data centers is in a colocation center or “carrier hotel” This is a completely managed facility will physical security, fire protection, backup power and a full time technical staff. You’ll often find the best bandwidth deals at colo centers because carriers establish points of presence within the facility to reach many customers at once. With multiple service providers vying for your business, you can often get outstanding deals on any level of bandwidth your require.
Are you in the midst of or considering a data center consolidation project? If so, get competitive quotes for your bandwidth needs from multiple service providers. This will help you minimize your costs, while getting the performance you need.