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IT Consolidation is Both an Art and a Science

January 29, 2018

This is the first of several planned posts on IT consolidation. You might find the phrase “IT consolidation” to be cold or even unimaginative, so how can it be both an art and a science? This is what I will explore over the next couple of weeks, as the topic is so broad and important to the overall vitality of organizations and their IT departments.
 
Consolidation Is a Business Strategy

Although the outcomes of a consolidation project have many technical implications and activities, IT consolidation is first and foremost a business strategy. Upon the successful completion of a consolidation project, stakeholders expect certain outcomes, like the ability of the business and its IT partners to work better and faster or the ability to “do things easier” than in the pre-consolidation environment. Often, they expect to get more for less by receiving more processing power, capability and control for a lower overall cost of ownership.

Taking these three examples, shown in the table below, you can perhaps reverse engineer the tactics used to achieve these results.

Table.jpg

As you can see from these examples, there is more to IT consolidation projects than just lowering costs. The descriptions of these projects show that stakeholders are looking at a variety of outcomes in addition to lower costs.

Consolidation and Modernization

Not all consolidation activities mean moving the workload from one platform to another. This is where consolidation meets modernization. Some consolidation projects naturally align with modernization, like when real servers are virtualized driving higher hardware utilization and lower operating costs—including space and power considerations.

The scope of consolidation and modernization projects can be equally broad. The opportunity might be in servers and storage, so virtualization applies. Or, the domain might be applications or entire business systems, where utilizing an upgraded hardware and software environment could benefit from more automation and self-service to provide lower costs and improved functionality.

Consolidation projects sometimes operate at the data-center level, like those involving the U.S. government. Since 2010, the U.S. government’s initiatives have moved to reduce the cost of data center hardware, software and operations. They have also sought to shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms, promoted the use of Green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate imprint of government data centers and increased the IT security posture of the government.  

Main Consolidation Tactics

Server and storage virtualization are important consolidation tactics. When the workload merits it, it’s best to utilize virtualization in a robust enterprise environment. For example, the Linux OS benefits from the mainframe’s capabilities and strengths, including strong data security, operational efficiency, high availability and great performance. For IT consolidation projects, Linux OS on IBM Z can result in data center simplification, reliable operation and lower costs.

Leveraging the capabilities of virtualization in the content of cloud services—like a mainframe private Linux cloud—does something well beyond the basics of virtualization. Automation—like image provisioning and standardization using predefined and standard software images—offers a strong starting point for lowering costs and speeding the day-to-day processes. Products like IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS have features that include:
  • On-demand self service provisioning of z/OS software
  • Optimized control for users and system programmers
  • Catalog creation and resource tracking
  • Policy control to free up system programmers
  • Workflow authoring tool
Virtualization is a great tool, but combining it with cloud features amplifies its power.

What’s Next?

Next week, I’ll continue the exploration of the IT consolidation topic. I will explore a variety of IT consolidation projects as they relate to the wide scope of undertakings from server to data center consolidation.

Posted January 29, 2018| Permalink

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