With today’s complex IT environments, planning for IT asset management is a challenging task. So here is a simple step-by-step methodology to make planning easier and more successful.
Look at Past Patterns
Using your infrastructure performance management (IPM) solution, check your historical trends for server, storage and SAN capacity, utilization, and performance. To do this, you need to have been monitoring your IT environment around the clock for a year or so. A full year’s history enables you to determine:
- Growth (or declines) in utilization.
- Peak demand periods, which if there is any cyclicality to your business, is essential.
- Relationships between metrics. For example, due to work demands, performance may decline more rapidly than capacity. And, since high performance helps to keep employees productive and customers satisfied, ultimately, it’s what counts.
Fast Forward to the Future
Informed by your history, you can project how trends will impact the next year or two, depending on your planning timeframe. Add in anything you know about your business that could affect the trends, such as a new product introduction or anticipated changes in your business’s growth due to market fluctuations. Then, based on the crystal ball you’ve created, determine what you need to add, upgrade or replace.
Manage Maintenance Matters
Now it’s time to review your maintenance contracts that are eating steadily away at your IT budget to see if you can eliminate any of them. Recognize that the older your equipment is, the greater the risk of failure and the costlier your maintenance contracts. So, look at your oldest equipment to see if you can consolidate the operations you’re running on them to newer technology. Wiping out the maintenance costs may be enough to justify purchasing of new pieces of equipment. If you can, you’ve fed two birds from one hand; you’ve lowered your maintenance costs and reduced the risk, for instance, of Murphy’s Law striking on Black Friday due to a technology outage.
Seek Space Savings
If you’re running out of space in your data center and need to accommodate new projects, applications or acquisitions within its boundaries, you may need to consolidate equipment.
You need to determine whether your existing storage and servers can absorb the new workload and still deliver high performance. Or do you need to add to your IT infrastructure?
If you need three more servers and another 500 terabytes of storage, then you want to know if you have the room in your racks to install them. If you don’t have the physical capacity or the environmental conditions to house them, then you have to consolidate.
At this juncture, it’s especially helpful if your infrastructure monitoring tool, which has been monitoring your environment nonstop and year-round, allows you to tag assets and separate them into virtual environments. If it does, tag and group the applications, hosted servers, storage, and SAN switches of your oldest, largest and slowest equipment. Typically, only a small minority of a company’s equipment does most of the work, so you are likely to find that many of these space hogs are producing little value. If so, you may be able to consolidate some servers and storage subsystems. By doing so, you free up space to buy new technology to handle the new project. Thus, by creating virtual environments you can test various scenarios and model future requirements and performance.
Slash Software Costs
If your data center is like others, one of the costs that looms largest is for software. It’s worth finding creative ways to attack that expense.
On each of 450 servers, one of our clients had approximately ten virtual hosts. Because they were using enterprise database software that was licensed by core, they had to have a license for each of their physical servers. When new server technology became available that offered shared processor pools to manage core usage and software license requirements, they wanted to explore potential software savings.
In Galileo Performance Explorer®, an IPM tool, we grouped the virtual environments which hosted the database software to find out how many cores the company needed. In a couple of hours, we determined the best solution was to consolidate all of this company’s database requirements from the 450 physical servers onto 20 new servers. While they spent around $2 million and 18 months to implement the plan, they reduced their software costs by $8 million a year. Payback was almost immediate.
Using the right data and taking these steps makes IT asset management easier and helps to increase your return on technology.