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Why not Initiate a “Save to Invest” Program for your Data Center? (Part 1)

September 9, 2015 - 6 Comments

Save Some Money! As a Scot, I have a natural predisposition – almost a gene – for money saving initiatives!  As I’ve been researching new initiatives in my work for Cisco Services over the past few months, I’ve become aware of – for the first time I am ashamed to say in some cases – some huge sinks of your cash in today’s data centers.  In this blog, over 2 parts, I’ll share these with you, with the aim of encouraging you to invest in these money saving activities, with the aim of freeing up investment funds to subsequently modernize your data center, transform your end user experience and improve your asset utilization financial metrics.  In fact, you could create your own “Save to Invest” program by following the 5 tips below.  And while you’re reading this, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and listen to my “theme tune” for this article, “Money!” 🙂



This week I’ll discuss ….

(1) Identify, Turn Off and Remove Idle Servers

(2) Identify Un-used Enterprise Software Applications: Reduce Your Software Costs

(3) Get Rid of Dead Weight – Execute a Server Refresh

(1) Identify, Turn Off and Remove Idle Servers

The presence of idle servers (research suggests 20-30% of all servers in a given data center) in your IT estate was a topic for 2 of my earlier blogs (see part 1 and part 2).  It’s a bigger and more pervasive problem than you think.  I won’t repeat my earlier blogs, however suffice to say I’d recommend you start by systematically identifying (using advanced discovery tools) and removing idle, unused servers (virtual as well as physical) from your data center, as the first step in your “Save to Invest” program.

(2) Identify Un-used Enterprise Software Applications: Reduce Your Software Costs

Closely related to (1) above, with an appropriate deep discovery of your application estate, you will almost certainly be able to find software applications that were installed, used for a short project ….. and then forgotten about – software that is now installed but un-used.  Let’s be honest: we’re all too busy with daily fire-fighting and the occasional longer term project work to deal with such tidy-up actions.  In the meantime, you continue to pay software licensing and/or technical support fees.  This issue is compounded in these days of easy-to-spin-up virtual machines.  Now, if you have a vendor Unlimited License Agreement (ULA), this may not be an immediate issue.  However, you may regret not paying attention to idle software if you have to face a vendor audit (as I will discuss in part 2) – it could be your leverage in a ULA negotiation.

(3) Get Rid of Dead Weight – Execute a Server Refresh

It may sound counter intuitive to recommend that, as part of a “Save to Invest” program, you perform a server refresh – that is, replace some older servers with newer models. However, if you look at the older servers running in your data centers, running perhaps soon to be unsupported operating system versions, you are likely to find them more susceptible to security scares, with low levels of virtualization, as well as consuming more space and power than their modern equivalents.  By modernizing your server estate, you may not only improve end user experience and reduce power costs, you may indeed (by freeing up space) extend the life of your data center.

I’ll add a few more cost saving ideas in part 2.  Before ending, let me say a few words on making such a “Save to Invest” program a reality. Key to such an exercise is a deep discovery to identify the servers of a given age and size that should consider as refresh candidates.  And of course, as you migrate to the new servers, you can take advantage of increased virtualization and increased compute density in order to free up rack space and power.  This is where Cisco Services can help, together with our discovery partner iQuate  and our Application Services portfolio.  So please do get in touch via my Twitter ID below and I can point you to the right people.


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  1. Very interesting – thanks for sharing Stephen

  2. All good recommendations to reduce costs on a data center. I have seen it time and again where unused software is costly as well as taking up storage adds an additional expense to the bottom line. Good read.

    • Thanks Joseph – look out for part 2 which I’ll publish in a week or two. I’ll focus more on costly software in that part. Good point on the storage, that indeed is an additional component of cost!

  3. Totally agree just that it is easier said than done (been there, done that :)). The challenge is to get the data that is still needed out from some antiquated SW that is running on some antiquated OS on some old HW before you can take the HW out of DC.

    • Thanks Ana – yes, older and in cases “forgotten” servers and other types of compute platform can be a pain. We find challenges in getting access credentials for such machines e.g. we may need read-only access for application discovery, and sometimes we find that no-one remembers what the logins are for such “forgotten” machines, or they don’t know who the current owner is. Fun and games. There may be 5% of an estate that is challenging in this regard – my guidance would be don’t let that put you off stripping cost out of the remaining 95%, where bang for the buck will still be very worthwhile for you.

  4. Thanks for the insight, this is a very interesting read