cupsYou’ve no doubt heard the tales of successful data center consolidations taking an organization from 23 servers to 2 or seen the lofty initiatives put forth by the federal government to save billions of dollars. What many of these stories don’t include though are details on how to successfully tackle a consolidation project. While the starting and ending points will definitely vary for each organization, there are some steps that every company should take in order to ensure success.

Step 1: Take Inventory
You need to understand where you are, account for all servers, networking gear, and applications, before you can know what to do with it. Sounds like a no-brainer, but for many organizations some of their inventory, be it applications running on a particular server or an entire device’s existence, is only known by a few and not documented.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Current Environment
How fast does your data grow? Can your storage grow with it? Is all critical infrastructure on an active support plan? Does your data exist somewhere else other than your primary site? What virtualization efforts are currently underway or completed? These questions and more need to be answered to understand your current requirements.

Step 3: Identify Your Goals
This isn’t just about the goal to reduce the number of servers. What are the service requirements for the business and where does that need to grow in the coming months? Years? Sure, consolidation and saving money is good, but you need to formulate a plan that has clear goals and supports the organization as a whole.

Step 4: Evaluate Needs
Here is where some of the more difficult questions need to be asked. In addition to budget, the cost of downtime and acceptable downtime for applications will dictate what consolidation strategy is the proper fit for your organization. Should some sort of DR site (hot, warm, cold) be implemented in case of prolonged outages?

For some help in organizing your efforts, start your consolidation with a hybrid assessment today. Following these steps can help you to execute a consolidation strategically, and in a way that keeps your organization well supported and more efficient.