In the data center industry, less is often more. The fewer total data centers you operate, and the smaller the footprint of the equipment in them, the more efficiently your business is probably operating (provided, of course, that the data center infrastructure you do use is sufficient for meeting your requirements).
That's why data center consolidation, which allows organizations to reduce their data center footprint and increase efficiency, is an important step toward making the most out of modern data centers. This article explains how data center consolidation works, why it's important, and what to consider to consolidate data center facilities and resources.
What is data center consolidation?
Data center consolidation is the process of reducing the total scale of data center resources in order to make them more efficient.
At the highest level, data center consolidation could involve merging two or more distinct data center facilities into a single location. But data center consolidation can also take the form of integrating servers and applications inside a data center, such that you can operate your workloads with less infrastructure.
Benefits of data center consolidation
The main benefit of data center consolidation is that it leads to greater efficiency, in several ways:
- Energy use: The smaller your infrastructure footprint, the less energy you'll spend on data center power and cooling. This leads to energy efficiency and data center sustainability.
- Operating cost: Fewer facilities and/or a smaller infrastructure translates to lower operating costs because you have fewer sites and resources to manage, secure, power and so on.
- Security enhancement: Consolidating your data center resources makes them easier to secure. The fewer resources you operate, the fewer physical and digital security risks you have to manage.
- Modernization: In many cases, data center consolidation leads to more modern operating models and architectures. The consolidation process provides an opportunity to update practices that you may not have revisited since you initially deployed your data center or infrastructure.
For all of these reasons, data center consolidation makes life simpler for IT and security teams, while also encouraging greater overall business efficiency and reliability.
When should you consolidate your data center?
Of course, data center consolidation is not a simple process. It requires extensive planning, and migrating or integrating resources could take months or even years. You also have to figure out what to do with scaled-down data center facilities after you've performed a consolidation.
So, it's important to ensure that data center consolidation is worth the cost and effort before you embark on the journey. The following factors are signs that you should consider consolidating your data center:
- Decreasing utilization rates: Data center utilization is the extent to which you're actively using the total capacity of your data center. If you find that utilization is going down, you can likely achieve a major efficiency boost through consolidation.
- Increased cloud migration: The more workloads you migrate into public clouds, the higher the chances that your data center infrastructure is oversized and would benefit from consolidation.
- Unnecessary data center locations: In some cases, you may have created data centers in specific physical locations in order to serve users in those locations or meet data sovereignty requirements. If your needs have changed – or if you can now meet geography-related requirements using the public cloud – consider decommissioning data centers in sites that are no longer valuable.
- New application architectures: Newer application architectures, like microservices, can consume resources more efficiently than technologies like VMs (which have more overhead and are harder to distribute efficiently across a cluster). As a result, when you adopt more modern architectures, you may be able to consolidate your data center while achieving the same level of workload performance.
This is not a comprehensive list, but these are some of the most common reasons why data center consolidation makes sense.
Too much data center – or too much data center infrastructure – is a bad thing from an efficiency perspective. To optimize costs, reduce management work and enhance security, consider consolidating your data centers – especially if you're taking advantage of public cloud services or modern application architectures that reduce your need for conventional data center resources.