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New Report: Six Essentials for the Optimized Data Center

From the experts | Posted on April 13, 2012 by Lesley Morris

Because it’s hard to keep up with the latest best practices, we asked Infotech Indaba to create a report that provides practical advice, broad and balanced insight and an unbiased point of view.To read the full whitepaper, go to Softchoice’s Optimized Datacenter

We wanted to share some of the key trends identified in the report, as we believe that a thorough grasp of these can help organizations  manage and grow amid the many challenges they face today.

Trend #1: Virtualization

Research shows a decrease of as much as 70% in capital expenditures for virtualized environments compared to a non-virtual infrastructure, which likely explains why so many IT decision-makers have already gone down that path. However, many organizations are realizing all of the efficiencies virtualization has promised. Management and an optimized infrastructure are needed.

Your virtualization transformation must be a thoughtful, cost-benefit based, phased process from initial server consolidation to easier server maintenance and workload consolidation to the creation of more flexible, utility-like internal clouds.

Trend #2: Converged Data Center

Once upon a time the lower price and higher speed of Fibre Channel made it a logical choice in the data center. But Ethernet has closed the gap outperforming it in pure bandwidth, with a further widening as Fibre Channel moves to 16G and Ethernet warp speeds to 100G. It’s pulled ahead on cost-per-port too. These improvements are making a single data center Ethernet network more accessible, affordable and manageable – along with end-customer benefits including greater speed and performance and higher levels of availability.

As you consider the benefits of both technologies, assess key criteria for upgrading to 10G Ethernet for industry alignment and perform an assessment of the current environment to gauge performance baselines. Plus, keep in mind that your data center will never be a homogenous environment, so multi-vendor interoperability should be high on the list of criteria for choosing a provider.

Trend #3: Storage

Storage costs are rising, driven by the increasing demand for storing exponential amounts of data, particularly the unstructured variety. Network storage is also becoming more abstract as virtualization enables more advanced management features, many of which help optimize the use of disk resources.

In planning a storage implementation or modernization, it’s wise to start with a review of strategic drivers, with a simple rule of thumb being to align the cost of storage with the value of what’s being stored on it. As well, costs can be reined in by balancing the appropriate level or redundancy with tools that enable greater storage utilization.

Trend #4: Systems Management

At the end of the day, IT’s role in your enterprise is service delivery, and delivering service at the best cost can only be achieved through proactive systems management. In fact, an effective combination of automated tools and well-developed proactive processes to ensure the reliability, availability and serviceability of business services can improve uptime and performance by as much as 50%.

One key to success here is maintaining and updating documentation. Another is to lay out good systems management processes at the start of the IT deployment process. And a third is adequate staffing – systems management tends to suffer in understaffed IT organizations.

Trend #5: Data Protection

Research indicates 43% of companies that suffer catastrophic data loss don’t reopen after the outage, while only 6% recover and survive long term. IT disasters, it’s important to remember, aren’t always caused by tornadoes or earthquakes – a simple power outage can wreak havoc if your organization loses, say, a month’s worth of data in the process.

All this to underscore the importance of having a disaster recovery plan – one that’s appropriate to the size and importance of your data, adequately staffed, documented and rehearsed. Organizations with a dedicated team of disaster recovery “first responders” – including stakeholders from IT, storage and infrastructure, facilities and finance – are better able to restore service and get on with business.

And remember, research indicates that organizations tend to underestimate the amount of IT budget that should be allotted to disaster recovery by about 30%.

Trend #6: Power and Cooling

The rising cost of power and a growing awareness of environmental issues have created a challenge for IT departments – there may be a greater awareness of issues with data center power usage and cooling, but this awareness isn’t necessarily affecting server purchase decisions. This is borne out by research that shows only 25% of businesses have fully adopted an IT energy measurement initiative.

The bottom line – quite literally – is that businesses need to clearly map out plans for achieving data center efficiencies that can be documented and integrated into their overall IT operations. A first step is understanding where efficiencies can be gained, simply by collecting data or undertaking a more detailed assessment of workloads and virtualization requirements.

The best way to ensure your organization and data center are prepared for technology’s bleeding edge trends is to plan, execute and manage to expectations and work with partners that have expertise in readying your data center for the battles ahead.

To read the full whitepaper, go to Softchoice’s Optimized Datacenter.

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