What Is Server Consolidation and When Is It Necessary?

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According to Gartner, server consolidation poses considerable benefits even though it is ill-defined and immature. Companies should take a step-by-step approach to reap the considerable benefits accrued by the different types of consolidation.

Server consolidation is an option widely used to maximize the effective use of server resources to decrease the number of servers required by a company. It was created in response to the problem of server sprawl (when a multiple, under-utilized server needs more space and consumes more resources than their workload can justify). Generally, servers in many enterprises run at 15-20% of their capacity. Needless to say, this is not a sustainable ratio in the current economic environment. In order to reduce unnecessary costs and increase the return on investment in the data center, companies are now increasingly turning to server consolidation.

Even though consolidation can considerably improve the efficient use of server resources, it may also bring about complex configurations of data, applications, and servers that can be confusing for the average user to deal with. To mitigate this issue, companies use server virtualization to mask the details of server resources from users while optimizing resource sharing. Another approach is the use of blade servers to enhance the effective use of space.

How Server Consolidation Can Benefit Your Business

Server consolidation can help companies in different ways:

  • Consolidation can reduce licensing costs if an SQL Server 2012 Enterprise license is used. This edition has moved from socket-based to core-based licensing. Nowadays, companies cannot afford to have servers with more cores than they need.
  • If the company has its own data center, ¬†consolidation can also reduce power costs. By replacing five or six servers with a single server, it is possible to save on the power costs associated with running and cooling them.

Considerations to Have in Mind Before Consolidating your Server

Consolidation Strategy

When planning a consolidation project, companies first need to figure out how to consolidate the databases. Some possible strategies include:

  • Having multiple instances, with each instance on a separate virtual machine (VM)
  • Having multiple instances on a single physical machine or VM
  • Having a single instance on a single physical machine or VM

Hardware Requirements

Probably the most significant consideration when planning a consolidation project is to understand if the consolidated server’s hardware can handle the newly combined workload physically. To make sure that the server can handle the workload, it is necessary to check storage I/O, memory, and CPU requirements.

Application Maintenance

One consideration that is often underestimated is that consolidating databases can make scheduling maintenance windows much more complicated. So, before consolidating applications that are managed by several business units on a single server, it’s highly recommended to schedule a meeting with the managers of the affected business units and set up regular maintenance windows that work for the whole team. Although companies might not need maintenance windows every week or month, having it available and agreed upon in advance will make it smoother and simpler to take the system down for routine maintenance.

As you can see, consolidating databases on a single server might seem like an easy task, but it typically isn’t. Contact us to carry out a thorough evaluation of your database and identify issues that impede your database performance and determine what needs to be fixed and how to future-proof your systems.