Everything You Need to Know About Server Consolidation
Want to maximize your business efficiency even further? Server consolidation might be exactly what you need. Find out how consolidating your servers can benefit you, the potential risks involved, and whether it’s the right choice for your business.
Whether it's boosting your team's productivity, optimizing processes and operations, or even reducing energy costs, you already have some form of business efficiency measure in place. That means you already know that efficiency is one of the best ways to maximize the returns of your business.
However, there's one aspect of business efficiency that often gets overlooked. And it's one that's often right under your nose, or in this case, whirring quietly on a rack: your servers.
Regardless of whether you're storing data on-site or in a data center, keeping your servers running uses up valuable resources.
While this is a necessary cost, unfortunately, so few servers are actually used to their full capacity. That means many organizations are spending too much on servers they might not even be using or need. And that is money that you could have used more efficiently, like helping grow the business.
We've seen cases like this happen to many clients over our years of providing managed IT services. And in these cases, we solved the issue with server consolidation.
In this article, we'll help guide you through the process by sharing everything you need to know before consolidating your servers. To do that, we will be answering the following questions:
- What is server consolidation?
- Will consolidating my servers impact my business?
- What are the benefits of consolidating my servers?
- What are the things you need to consider before consolidating your servers?
- Should I consolidate my servers?
What is server consolidation?
Server consolidation is just what it sounds like. It's essentially combining servers or replacing legacy servers with virtual systems like the cloud. Simply put, it's the practice of maximizing the use of your servers and reducing the number you need for your business.
The process reduces the resources required to run your servers and saves you money on overhead and maintenance costs.
Can consolidating servers disrupt my business?
The short answer -- it depends.
If done correctly, server consolidation can give you great benefits that will help you cut costs, improve efficiency and save money. While that may seem tempting, you have to remember it's not foolproof to execute. In fact, it can be a minefield that needs expert guidance to traverse properly.
Without proper planning, expert execution, and good communication, you could be at risk for major disruptions. These can include prolonged downtime or data loss. A fate that can hurt your organization in the long run, especially when you consider that the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
With that in mind, it's essential to ensure that the team handling your consolidation project is both experienced and meticulous.
If a managed IT service provider (MSP) is handling the process, ensure that you are communicating everything during meetings. A good MSP will make a thorough examination of your network, uptime requirements, and goals. They will also use a tried and tested method to set up an extensive plan. This will have contingencies in place to protect your data.
All of this planning is necessary to ensure your consolidation project doesn't cause any major disruption to your business.
What are the benefits of consolidating my servers?
Now that we've discussed the potential risks when consolidation isn't done properly let's now get into the potential benefits you may enjoy when it's executed well.
Less hardware, more efficiency
Having fewer physical servers means you will reduce operating and licensing costs, warranties and make server management more efficient.
Decrease cooling and electrical costs
One server can use between 500 to 1,200 watts per hour. If the average use is 850 watts per hour, that equals 20.4 kilowatts per hour (kWh) daily and over 7,400 kWh each year. Not to mention, cooling the servers down will add to that cost.
Lower impact on the environment
Lower electric bills also mean a lower impact on the environment. If your business strives to be eco-friendly, then this is a big plus.
Improve backup and disaster recovery
Having a consolidated server can help make backup and disaster recovery more efficient. That's because your data will be located in fewer places, making it easier for your IT or MSP to implement your backup and recovery plan.
Four things to consider before consolidating your server
If you think server consolidation will benefit your business, here are some of the things you need to consider before making the leap.
One of the most important considerations you need to make for server consolidation is how much you're willing to spend on the project. Your business has unique circumstances and needs, and your budget will influence your consolidation strategy.
2. Consolidation Strategy
Properly executing a consolidation strategy requires careful planning, communication, and expertise. It's a process that requires you to have a solid strategy with contingencies in place even before the project begins.
3. Hardware Requirements
Another important consideration is whether or not the hardware that will be used for the project can handle the newly combined workload. It's possible to over-consolidate your servers, causing long-term problems like overheating and other performance issues.
4. Maintenance Schedules
In some cases, maintenance windows become increasingly complicated when you have fewer servers. Carefully planning your maintenance schedules and keeping constant communication with your IT or MSP will help ensure that maintenance won't disrupt your workflow.
Should you consolidate your servers?
The answer depends on your business needs and existing infrastructure. If your company is using three servers or more, then you might want to consider consolidating your servers.
At ITS, we've handled new server implementation and server consolidation projects for hundreds of clients for over ten years, and based on our experience, each project was unique.
We don't just implement server consolidation without a thorough overview and examination of the existing infrastructure. That helps guide us to determining how much a project is going to cost, how long it's going to take, and what we would need to get the job done right without causing disruption and pain for our clients.
Want to find out if server consolidation is right for your business? Reach out to us or fill out this form for a free tech consultation.