Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why are we consolidating server rooms on campus?

There were over 40 data centers and server rooms in various rooms on campus. Consolidating them to a handful of centrally managed data center locations creates numerous cost and efficiency opportunities, enhances security of the data, and allows the space to be repurposed for other uses. Closing redundant or energy-inefficient server rooms yields significant infrastructure, maintenance, and electrical savings; additional energy savings are realized when servers can be turned off because they are virtualized or absorbed into existing campus services. The team estimates savings of $400,000 in the first year alone. 

What are the options for consolidation?

The consolidation strategy focuses on ease of server management and cost savings, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Partnering with departmental IT staff and faculty/researchers, the project team considers several options based on the service being provided and the needs of the people using it.

  • Retire – If the service is no longer needed
  • Consolidate – If an existing service on campus will meet the service needs of the people using it
  • Virtualize – If the service can be moved from a physical server to a virtual server
  • Cloud – If the service can be moved to the cloud
  • Replace – Purchase new hardware and install the service
  • Move – If all other options are exhausted, then move the equipment

How does the project team work with IT staff/researchers to ensure a smooth transition?

One of the keys to a successful server room migration is the OneIT DC SC team’s commitment to working in partnership with the departmental IT and faculty/researchers. Building relationships and working collaboratively ensures that the consolidated service will meet or exceed user expectations.

Initial sentiments toward consolidation aren’t always enthusiastic, but to date all consolidations have resulted in a win-win for the partners involved. The project team found that in some cases, people weren’t aware of all the different IT service offerings available to them. The team enjoys working with researchers and server room owners to review the technologies being used. Collectively they’re able to find creative solutions to IT needs that save institution money, but also save the researcher/department time and money.

What is the timeline for consolidating rooms? How is the order determined?

The goal of the OneIT DC SC project is to consolidate 20 server rooms in the fiscal year ending June 2016 with the remaining rooms completed over the following two years. A number of factors contribute to the order of room consolidation; in many cases the OneIT DC SC consolidation effort is simply the expansion of an effort already underway by the owning department. In at least two cases the departments had an immediate need to repurpose the server room space.

What happens to the rooms after the IT equipment is removed?

With UI Facilities Management (FM), the OneIT DC SC team developed a decommission process, funded by FM and Information Technology Services, to restore consolidated server rooms to their base programming state. Departments have quickly begun using the rooms for other pressing needs.

Data Centers and Servers