By, Dick Stark, President, CEO, and Founder of RightStar Systems
Not too long ago, the average person might have carried around many or all of the following in a given day: a telephone, a personal calendar/organizer, a camera, a watch, a voice recorder, an MP3 player, and a laptop computer. Today, all of those items and more can be found in a single device: the smartphone. In this one example, we can see the power of consolidation to increase efficiency and productivity, lower costs, and simplify our lives. The same is true of IT consolidation.
As in the private sector, public sector IT is seeking to increase efficiency and lower costs through consolidation of hardware and applications. For example, the Canadian government is transferring resources associated with the delivery of e-mail, data center, and network services from 44 departments and agencies to a new entity called Shared Services Canada. The goal is to standardize on a single e-mail system, reduce the number of data centers to 20, and streamline electronic networks within and among government departments.
In the United States, data center consolidation is driven by the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). Consolidation is already delivering important benefits, including the following:
Reduction in energy consumption and real estate footprint
Reduction in spending for data center hardware, software, and operations
Stronger security posture
More efficient computing platforms and technologies
IT service management solutions are tremendously helpful in consolidation efforts. Among the most obvious areas are discovery and asset management. Determining which hardware and software components make up the infrastructure is an important first step toward consolidation. Automatic discovery tools and a central repository or configuration management database (CMDB) that capture and maintain this information, along with interdependencies, are essential to gaining visibility into the infrastructure.
Capacity optimization is another discipline that facilitates consolidation. Solutions in this area are rapidly maturing, allowing for sophisticated capacity management that enables IT to balance computing resources with business requirements throughout the infrastructure.
Key benefits of capacity management include the ability to keep services performing and available 24×7. This includes lower costs through continuous monitoring, analysis, planning, and optimization across data centers. It also reduces the risk that stems from managing capacity based on the key performance indicators of the business.
There are also newer tools that are particularly exciting. RightStar has worked with several agencies that are piloting a data center performance management solution that focuses on environmental factors such as air conditioning and real estate. This type of solution can, for example, help identify components that are consuming large amounts of power. IT management can then make informed decisions about decommissioning devices or replacing them with smaller, more energy-efficient versions.
Consolidation is just one way that public sector I.T. organizations are trying to lower costs. Other cost-cutting objectives include moving to cloud computing, pursuing a “do more with less” strategy, seeking IT transformation of the organization, and establishing IT accountability measures. Many government agencies are discovering that IT service management processes and solutions can help them achieve these objectives.
Dick Stark is president, CEO, and founder of RightStar. He has more than 25 years of experience in leading, building, and managing technology companies. During his career, he has also led and managed technical, consulting, and finance operations. Stark is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).