Doing More With Less
Over the next two years, global advertising firm Ogilvy Worldwide plans to shrink its main New York data center to just 500 square feet from the 5,000 square feet it occupies, CIO Atefeh Riazi says. In the process, it will cut its shrinking inventory of servers from 1,500 to 750, but end up with fuller racks. It will look to deliver more business applications as on-demand services, shifting the need for computing power from the desktop to the data center. And it will make more use of virtualization, helping to reduce the number of e-mail servers it relies on from 80 to three.
"Our data center is going to be smaller in terms of space, but we'll have much more capacity than we did before," says Riazi. "It's an easier environment to manage. It's almost a utility. We know we need to start focusing on applications and services, and not so much on servers and storage and the stuff we've been managing for a long time."
Welcome to the new reality confronting these once oversized rooms where workers watched over large machines whose main job was to store and serve up data to employees.
Financial giant Deloitte & Touche is on a similar path. The company has shut down 100 redundant applications in the past 18 months, including consolidating more than a dozen customer-management systems and eight performance-management systems into one of each, U.S. CIO Larry Quinlan says. It has slashed the number of voicemail systems scattered throughout its network from 80 to two, and has centralized its application servers, shifting the core of its e-mail and fax applications to its main data center in Nashville, Tenn. It has also moved 300 file servers from its field offices to the data center. The cumulative impact has eased the need for the server rooms that have functioned as local data centers for many of the company's 85 domestic offices.
To help it manage those changes, Deloitte & Touche has, like so many others, made blade server technology and server-virtualization software major components of its IT strategy, redefining the role the data center plays from here on.
"It's an evolution, and we are moving toward fewer data centers and fewer places where there are important processing capabilities," Quinlan says. "We really are moving the data center to a totally indispensable kind of environment, something you couldn't possibly do without."
As a result, IT executives like Riazi and Quinlan have had to significantly alter the way they view and manage their data center assets, and they should expect more changes as technology evolves.
"They need education to solve the problems that they're facing, and that they're going to be facing," says Tom Roberts, director of data center services for Trinity Health, which operates 17 hospitals in seven Midwestern states, and a board member of the AFCOM [Association for Computer Operations Management] Data Center Institute, a think tank devoted to data center-related issues. "Over the past two or three years, the technology has changed so fast, things have gotten so fast and so hot, and so power-consuming, that no one has had a chance to react."
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