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Finding a New Answer to Data Center Sprawl

By Vicom Team - Nov 02, 2016

The growing quality, amount, and variety of data continues to challenge the capacity of data centers. Trends like increased mobile use and the Internet of Things are driving data traffic. Every transaction a customer makes on a smartphone generates data. Every sensor on a device in your home or in your city’s infrastructure generates data. All of this data means something.
For this data to be put to use, it needs to be stored somewhere. As a result, IT leaders are scrambling to find efficient ways to increase data center capacity. To avoid the risk of falling short, they provision new hardware to meet anticipated capacity needs, creating server sprawl. Unfortunately, this only adds to the problem.
The challenge IT leaders face is finding a way to expand storage capacity without draining their resources and adding to the ever-multiplying server footprint.

Virtualization Sprawl

Limited resources and increasing operating expenses, such as floor space, power, and cooling have driven companies towards virtualization. Virtualization seems like a magic bullet at first. Underutilized servers could be optimized by creating virtual machines (VMs) that run multiple operating systems. This reduces not only the total number of physical machines needed, but also the data center’s power and cooling costs.
Unfortunately, virtualization created its own version of sprawl. Virtual machines are so easy to create that any reduction in physical servers was cancelled out by the proliferation of VMs. In some cases, the proliferation becomes so rampant that administrators lose track of the virtual machines and face other challenges.

The Toll of Virtualization Sprawl

Virtualization sprawl impacts many aspects of a business–and its bottom line.
• Underutilization: Like physical servers, the VMs may be underutilized, making them a liability rather than an asset. Dormant VMs join the ranks of zombie or comatose servers that take up data center resources but no longer fulfill any function. What is the use of optimizing a server that isn’t being used? Instead, these servers could be decommissioned, saving you data center space.
• Licensing and Management Costs: Each one of these VMs requires software licensing and management tools that cost money. As a result, redundant machines may waste thousands of dollars that could be invested in upgrading your infrastructure.
• Resource Overload: Aside from monetary costs, virtualization sprawl taxes your staff and network resources. Eventually, the network administrator may not be able to effectively manage the large number of VMs. Administrators need to control allocations, resources usage, and permissions for these VMs. They also need to troubleshoot for the host server.
• Security Concerns: Virtualization sprawl also creates security problems. Automatic patching systems may not recognize an offline VM, causing it to miss out on important updates. Even though the VM isn’t being used, it can be used as a gateway to infiltrate your business.
What if it was possible to consolidate your storage while truly eliminating sprawl?

Achieving True Storage Consolidation

The key to storage consolidation is breaking away from the hard disk drive model of storage infrastructure. True consolidation can be achieved in 2 ways:
1) The storage device can provide greater capacity in a smaller package. Replacing hard disk drives with higher capacity storage will lessen the need to provision more servers, saving you infrastructure costs. Reducing the amount of racks needed for storage means a smaller, more efficient data center.
2) The information can be made more concise so it takes less space to store. Better data management through deduplication and compression reduces the amount of servers needed to store critical data.
The ideal solution to server sprawl would encompass both of these consolidation methods. Resorting to virtualization as a solution doesn’t provide these consolidation benefits because it relies on the same hard disk drive architecture.

High Storage Capacity in a Small Package

The storage solution that fits both these criteria is IBM’s Flash storage takes up less rack space than hard disk drives, reducing the data center footprint. This economy of size is coupled with high-performance and capacity. In fact, the capacity of flash storage continues to grow, with experts predicting it may reach 30 terabytes per solid-state drive by 2018.
Flash’s smaller footprint reduces energy and cooling costs, as flash runs cooler than hard disk drives.
Flash also provides data reduction tools to further optimize your storage, such as deduplication, compression, and thin provisioning. Snapshots and clones can also be used to reduce the storage space needed for the customer data that is crucial for profitable decision making.
Using flash storage will cure the problem of data center sprawl without creating the side effects of over-virtualization. Flash storage reduces your data center footprint without sacrificing capacity or performance. Built-in data management tools will even reduce administration costs and speed you to profitable insights.

Say goodbye to server sprawl by exploring flash storage with Vicom’s free consultation.