Opinion by Steve Duplessie

Opinion: How to kill data center costs while saving your sanity

If the data isn't changing but the attributes are, then continuing to do things the same way is illogical

Opinion by Steve Duplessie

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Q: I recently heard you claim that you could cut power/cooling costs in the data center by 30% by "simply changing the processes around how data is treated." Can you give me an example? -- P.R., Madison, Wis.

A: I love making claims like that -- and am amazed at how infrequently anyone ever calls me on them. Thankfully, I can justify that particular claim in spades. Madison is a lovely place, by the way.

Let's assume you are Joe IT Guy at XYZ company -- an upper-middle-market firm with a few thousand employees, a dozen sites, and all the problems folks like us deal with. You run your transactional production systems and your distributed Windows stuff. You have big SANs and file servers. You have stuff everywhere. You back things up; you do some disaster recovery. You are tragically overworked and chronically undervalued. You are Joe IT.

Let's pick one little area where process improvement can yield big results -- test and development. Everyone has T/D operations. Most operate in some version of the following:

  • 1) T/D is used to make sure internal and external software applications, new infrastructure and upgrades work the way they are supposed to prior to their being rolled out into production.

  • 2) In order to perform Step 1, T/D has to get real-life data that is complete and current from production systems into their own systems.

  • 3) In order to perform Step 2, T/D has to beg, borrow and steal -- and lives at the mercy of the production people. It takes time, planning and prayer. The application normally has to come down, and the database must be quiesced; the infrastructure specialists turn knobs and push buttons, and the data is then moved.

  • 4) Once Step 2 is complete, the actual testing can occur. Usually T/D will make additional copies of the data sets (which are probably already out of date by the time they are used) to test different things.

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