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With so many organizations facing the prospect of reduced budgets and an aging IT infrastructure, going to a vendor for optimization services is a smart choice. Infrastructure optimization is an IT initiative that aims to improve the performance and operational efficiencies of your IT infrastructure, from the data centre to the desktop, so you can better control costs.

Through data centre optimization, you consolidate servers, storage, networks and cooling systems to create an energy-efficient data centre that is easier to manage, better utilizes hardware resources and reduces power consumption. The result is space savings, reduced electricity bills and an infrastructure well positioned to meet future demands.

There are four focal areas for data centre optimization.

  • Server virtualization: To maximize processing power, run multiple virtual machines, each with its own operating system and application, on a single server.
  • Blade servers: Migrate from rack-mount servers to blades, which are thin servers that share power, cooling and network cabling on a chassis.
  • Data storage management: Move data from direct-attached storage on servers to networked storage, such as storage area networks (SANs). This way, data is consolidated and centralized, which improves storage utilization and makes the data easier to manage and back up.
  • Power and cooling management: Take advantage of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units to ensure uptime and properly design data centres with power distribution units and cooling systems.

Data Centre Optimization Services

Service vendors can identify data centre inefficiencies and help you lower the cost and complexity of the infrastructure. There are two key assessments for data centre optimization.

Virtualization Assessment
An IT service company can leverage software tools to analyze your existing servers and applications and determine which are good candidates to be virtualized. In this assessment, technicians evaluate your infrastructure and determine if you need to upgrade to new servers and purchase more storage.

Data Assessment
Through software tools, a service vendor will examine your storage environment and identify duplicate data. Data deduplication technology deletes multiple copies, keeping one copy for staff access. The assessment also identifies data that is nonessential or dormant, allowing you to pursue a tiered storage strategy in which the infrequently accessed data is moved to secondary, lower-cost storage devices.

A service provider can assist you with one portion or all facets of data centre optimization. In many cases, you won’t want to do one without the other. For example, to pursue server virtualization, you may want to couple it with more powerful, energy-efficient blade servers. To further optimize, you may want to ensure that the SAN supporting your virtualized server environment is optimized.

After you consolidate both servers and storage, you will likely need to reconfigure your data centre. Service providers have technical specialists that are experts in IT and facilities management, so they can design your data centre for peak performance and maximum energy efficiency.

Equipment manufacturers and service providers can offer services such as inspecting the electricity wiring of a new data centre or even bringing project managers onsite to manage the entire data centre construction. They can also install environmental sensors that measure temperature and humidity and offer remote monitoring to ensure uptime.

Other services include preventative maintenance visits, full-blown cooling analyses to analyze overall airflow, thermography evaluations to look for hot spots at the rack level and circuit tracing, which examines power distribution throughout a data centre.

Desktop Optimization

Besides the data centre, organizations can optimize their desktops, specifically with technology called client virtualization. This is a thin-client computing model where all the processing power, operating system and applications come from the data centre and are delivered to the user through thin client devices, desktop PCs, notebooks or even mobile devices.

Different architectures exist and a service vendor can help you determine which one best fits your needs. For example, blade PCs are actual computers housed in the data centre.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) partitions servers into different virtual machines, giving each user a “virtual computer” with an operating system and applications. Another architecture delivers the OS and applications from the servers to the end user’s computing device, where the applications run locally during a session.

The benefits are the same: easier IT management, improved security and more eco-friendly computing (because the technology consumes less power). IT staff can manage the computing infrastructure in one central location, the data centre, and use management software to manage user settings and install and upgrade software.

Security is improved because the data is stored centrally and not on users’ own hard drives. Therefore, IT managers don’t have to worry about unauthorized users copying files from desktop PC hard drives. And if notebooks are lost or stolen, data is not at risk. For added security, you can deploy smartcard readers, biometric scanners and two-factor authentication tokens.

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