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Multiple Data Center Cost Savings
Avoid the WAN bandwidth pitfalls of data center consolidation and realize cost savings

By: John Shepler

With mergers and acquisitions on the rise, companies are finding themselves with a multitude of data centers. So, do you leave things the way they are or try to capture some cost savings thorough data center consolidation?

Mere Moving Has Pitfalls
The solution may not be as simple as picking one data center to expand and moving everything there. For one thing, each of those data centers is likely somewhat unique. They have different equipment, applications and expert personnel. Even if you take half a dozen small server rooms and move them intact to one big data center, you still have the matter of connectivity.

Traffic Considerations
Most companies have networking set up to support much higher levels of traffic within the facility than to the outside world. That’s changing, as cloud services become more accepted. But even users of cloud computing and storage have to face the fact that they need much higher WAN (Wide Area Network) bandwidth than they used to. That drives two things: cost and availability.

Is Bandwith Available?
Yes, availability can be a show stopper. If all your facilities are located downtown in major metropolitan areas, you have suite of services and providers to choose from. Telecom service competition in densely populated areas will work to ensure that you get excellent pricing on your service contracts. But what if your facilities are now scattered among small, medium and large cities with some locations out in the boonies?

Make It Work On Paper First
This is why you start with a paper study before you do anything. Figure out what the new traffic levels will be to and from your main center or centers and then price out bandwidth that supports those levels with some margin for growth. Also make sure that you aren’t at the high end of available service levels or you’ll find future growth completely stifled. Do you really want to make a major move now and then make another one in a few years?

Watch for Higher WAN Bandwidth Needs
Calculate new bandwidth levels to serve the rest of your business locations. Note that while their data centers may now be downsized or empty, WAN traffic levels will almost certainly be higher. After all, all that data that was stored and processed locally will now have to come from somewhere else.

Avoid Trading One Cost For Another
While virtualization and equipment consolidation may eliminate a lot of hardware and its associated power and cooling costs, you need to make sure that you aren’t just adding that cost back in network service expense. Perhaps you’ll find that modestly priced T1 lines or Ethernet connections are all you need to provide connectivity for those remote facilities.

Consider Colocation As A Cost Saver
By the way, if you are going to be ripping out facilities and re-installing equipment, this could be the perfect opportunity to take a look at cost savings you might not otherwise think were worth the effort. One approach is to move everything to a colocation center rather than try to operate your own. The advantage is that you’ll get a better deal on shared resources like HVAC and backup power. Also, bandwidth prices are often best within a colo. There are no availability issues and little or no provisioning costs because multiple carriers are right there in the same building.

Cloud Services Are A New Option
Another option is to take a look at cloud services rather than providing your own. Once again, accessbandwidth becomes critical with appropriate backup circuits to ensure that you’ll always be able to connect with the cloud. You’ll be trading off the capital expense and ongoing maintenance and operations costs of running your own data center for monthly fees to the cloud service provider. It is a better deal? Do the paper study and see what makes sense for your particular situation.

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