SmartAdvice: Focus On Functionality And Requirements In Enterprise Software Contracts - InformationWeek
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SmartAdvice: Focus On Functionality And Requirements In Enterprise Software Contracts

Price isn't the only key factor in negotiating a software contract -- look at how long before your company gets its best business advantage, The Advisory Council says. Also, your company can expect everything from cost savings to greater efficiency in a well-handled data-center consolidation.

Question B: What criteria should an enterprise use for deciding what to include in a data-center consolidation?

Our advice: Data-center consolidation is a broad term that can cover many different initiatives. Which business units to include in a data-center consolidation will depend upon the initiatives pursued. Some of the possible initiatives include collocated/physical consolidation, server/data integration, and application/workload consolidation.

Simple data-center (collocation/physical) consolidation may be most appropriate when critical or legacy divisional applications can be moved to a common platform. Subsequent initiatives will require individualized planning based on the business goals of the organization.

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At a minimum, physical consolidation involves collocating the computing resources, which can be accomplished by simply moving existing resources to a central location. Even such a simple data-center consolidation can yield significant benefits. Perceived service improves because all servers are professionally managed and maintained using the best practices garnered from years of experience. A centralized data center will typically require fewer administrators, providing immediate cost savings, and security will be enhanced through the routine application of the latest security fixes, as well as by restricting physical access to the computers.

As part of the collocation/physical consolidation, it's frequently more cost effective to replace older equipment with new systems, which require less power, less space, and less maintenance, while simultaneously providing availability and serviceability features that were previously unknown or only offered on top-of-the-line models. With these savings alone, new servers can quickly pay for themselves, and reduce or eliminate many outages, thus improving user satisfaction.

Possible strategies for collocation/physical consolidation activities include:

  • A more powerful server can host a common application (E-mail or file serving) for several divisions, reducing both the number of servers that must be managed and (potentially) reducing the number of software licenses needed.

  • A single server can host several different applications that experience workload peaks at different times, enabling better resource utilization. Resource-management software can be used to ensure that applications are allocated appropriate shares of resources, and that no application is starved for resources.

  • Many applications such as Web serving and high-performance computing use scale-out techniques to increase performance; simply running more copies of the same application. For such applications, blade servers and high-density rack-mount servers with the latest provisioning software can provide the flexibility to rapidly adjust to changing workloads.

  • Storage consolidation into a NAS or SAN provides for better utilization of storage capacity and easier sharing of data.

Bringing the IT resources of the divisions of a large enterprise into a single data center is a project that will extend over a protracted period of time. Choose to start with divisions that are not averse to relinquishing control of their resources, and aim for early demonstrable successes. Apply the lessons learned during the early phases of the collocation/physical consolidation to ensure that the entire project is a success.

-- Ann Katan

Peter Taglia, TAC Expert, has more than 20 years of IT experience from the vendor perspective, focused on process automation for eBusiness, eCRM, contact centers, telecomm operations support systems, E911, wireless and wireline networks via n-tier applications, integration, middleware, and portals. His experience includes complex planning, project management, financial justification, ROI, metrics and strategies for growth via opportunity assessment, product management, value innovation, benchmarking, and industry structure research for alliances, mergers, and competitive analysis.

Ann Katan, TAC Expert, has more than 25 years of experience in developing, as well as managing the development, of software and hardware products. Her product-development expertise spans the range of NASA space research, communications products, factory automation, and hardware processors. She consults on hardware-systems engineering, server consolidation, high-availability systems, and project management.

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