Maximizing Data Center ROI at Data Center Dynamics- Toronto

Bob at DCD Toronto 11-2012 cropped The operation of the data center represents the bulk of most Enterprise IT budgets. Most firms will attest that the composition of the annual IT budget is 80% for “keeping the lights on,” and only 20% for “projects” or “innovation.” Of that 80% of the budget invested in maintaining the data center estate, some portion of that expense is returning comparatively little value to the business. The challenge that IT managers have is how to identify that portion of the investment that is not returning value, and decisively converting that to productive investment.

At Data Center Dynamics Converged, in Toronto, Ontario this week, 1E outlined the ways in which IT assets can fail to deliver value to the business, why traditional methods of identifying IT waste fall short, and how this problem can be solved with innovative approaches.

Analyzing where ROI is falling short in the Data Center

It has been estimated that over one million new servers are introduced into enterprise data centers each year, in North America alone. Some of these are for modernization, some are for new applications. Have we removed one million servers last year? Have we removed half of a million?

The fact of the matter is that the pace of the business and inadequacy of traditional governance methods combine to result in under-used or unused IT assets accumulating in the data center. Data center operators often consider it a luxury just to have the necessary time to install new servers coming into the environment. Rarely is sufficient time spent to identify and reclaim assets that are made obsolete by new additions or changes of the Business. Even when we try hard to recover underperforming capacity, the methods at hand are woefully inadequate to do so with the necessary certainty and pace needed in contemporary data center operations.

The cost ramifications of these underperforming assets are what damages our IT Return on Investment. On servers that are underused, misused, or no longer used, software licenses and maintenance contracts represent an ongoing expense that is difficult for most operators to isolate. The energy costs of servers that are not returning value to the business, and the energy costs to maintain environmental set points for them can be exorbitant.

Energy costs, operations costs, licensing costs, maintenance costs, facility costs are invested repeatedly in IT assets that are failing to return the value for which the Business invested in them in the first place.

Server Utilization Measurements: The Lights are on but Nobody’s Home

Most enterprises today use server utilization measurements as their method to determine whether a server is useful or not. If the server is showing utilization, the assumption is that it’s purposeful. This is unfortunate because “utilization” does not equate to value.

With utilization measurements, we can see that the server is alive, and maybe even that it’s doing something, but we cannot tell if that something is useful. The server may be executing a stuck process or simple background administrative tasks, but not returning value to the Business.

An Innovative Solution

Instead of treating the server as a black box, what if we could see every process running on every server in the entire estate, and in real time categorize each process as either “useful” or “non-useful?” What we would then have, is a clear view of where value is being returned, across the whole server estate. We would have a complete accounting of our servers, and the degree to which they are doing useful data processing activity and returning value to the Business. We would automatically be identifying waste, in real time.

The 1E Server Work Assessment

This is exactly what the Server Work Assessment , offered by 1E, does. The Server Work Assessment is a packaged service offering, using 1E’s unique technology to see inside the server estate and identify exactly where value is being returned to the Business. This allows the data center operator to decommission servers with confidence, and to more accurately manage resources and control virtual sprawl.

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