Cloud transformations, virtualization and a proliferation of high-density, low-profile servers are roiling traditional data centers. Rare today is the CIO or IT director that is not engaged in some form of data center consolidation or, at least, considering one.
And why not? The benefits are many and obvious: Improved performance and capacity for innovation, a reduction in management overhead, and perhaps best of all, radically reduced costs for power, cooling and real estate.
Video collaboration specialists Polycom this week was the latest notable name to trumpet their data center consolidation case study, undertaken with NTT’s RagingWire data center design and operations unit. Earlier this year, Polycom took a hard look at the 10-year-old systems it had scattered around a Sacramento, Calif., co-location data center that handled their back-end business systems, including their production Oracle ERP environment, e-mail systems, financial records, and Siebel support systems for the company’s 450,000 customers.
The resulting consolidation got Polycom’s systems down to a svelte single cage in the co-lo with an estimated 30-percent reduction in overall maintenance costs. The details of Polycom’s project can be seen here, but it’s hard not to notice one significant omission. What happened to the decommissioned hardware in the course of all this downsizing?
That’s not just an issue in the private-sector enterprise. There’s been much press lately for the increased appetite for data center consolidation among state and federal government agencies. In fact, at the federal level there’s been a host of success stories featuring impressive cost savings since the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) was launched four years ago.
Among the best effort, according to Federal Times:
- The Department of Defense trimmed $68 million from its IT budget thanks to efficiencies gained through virtualization and operating system reductions.
- The State Department saved $9 million thanks to a virtualization effort that reduced power and cooling costs for physical servers.
- The Department of Transportation saw a 62-percent decrease in data center floor space and reduction of physical servers from 88 to 34 by leveraging virtualization solutions.
All well and good. But again, no mention of the decommissioned hardware or its handling. As we’ve noted in the past, ignoring the ITAD component in such projects leaves organizations open to risk and leaves money that could be reinvested in new technologies on the table.
If a data center consolidation project is in the cards at your organization, here’s a few key considerations to check off as you map out your project:
- List devices in the data center inventory that will be taken out of service as a result of the consolidation project.
- Determine which decommissioned devices can be redeployed in the organization as they are, and which will need to be further processed for proper disposition.
- For those assets that have reached their end-of-life, determine what components, particularly storage media, have residual value that can be recovered through resale.
- Decide what level of data removal is required for end-of-life storage media. Choices range from physical destruction, to magnetic degaussing, to sophisticated reformatting and data sanitization. Keep in mind that while shredding may seem the most secure choice, it often lacks the certifiable audit trail that comes with enterprise-grade sanitization services.
- Find a trustworthy ITAD partner that can maximize the asset-value recovery from your used storage media as well as responsibly handle the recyclable portions of your decommissioned gear.
With this check list in hand, organizations will be better prepared to craft a data consolidation strategy that accounts for every step of the IT lifecycle. Not only will the organization face reduced risk of data loss and regulatory non-compliance, they will be better positioned to capture the remaining value of their IT investments which can be used to fund data center improvements for years to come.