Introduction

Ready availability of affordable industry-standard servers and storage has enabled companies of all sizes to deploy their own sophisticated IT systems. However, that same easy availability also encourages fragmented growth, leading to isolated islands of computing power that can be difficult to manage and expensive to maintain.

Ready availability of affordable industry-standard servers and storage has enabled companies of all sizes to deploy their own sophisticated IT systems. However, that same easy availability also encourages fragmented growth, leading to isolated islands of computing power that can be difficult to manage and expensive to maintain.

Infrastructure simplification is all about consolidating and replacing these often underpowered islands with fewer, more powerful solutions. Of course there’s a cost involved, but by reducing complexity it’s possible to improve both the performance and availability of your IT systems while, at the same time, cutting management overheads and making your business more responsive to change.

One of the biggest enablers here is the latest generation of processors, with enhanced multi-processing capabilities and large on-board caches the order of the day, enabling a single server to do the work of many. Industry-standard 64-bit processors are also available and, more recently, advanced multi-core chips have been introduced with two or more CPUs on each piece of silicon.

Server vendors have been quick to capitalise on these developments, incorporating the new processors into their products, along with enhanced high-speed bus and storage technologies. Meanwhile, the servers themselves have become smaller -- most notably with the introduction of high-density blade servers, allowing whole roomfuls of hardware to be replaced with just one or two equipment racks.

Smaller and ever more powerful servers such as these are both easier and cheaper to deploy. In addition, the development of iSCSI is also enabling the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) to take advantage of Storage Area Network (SAN) technology, to make storage a more secure, centrally managed, resource that can be quickly and easily allocated to servers anywhere on the network.

There have been major developments on the software front too, including new virtualisation and partitioning tools to host multiple virtual servers on a single hardware platform. Each has its own protected memory space, processor and storage resources, and can run unique operating system and application software to better utilise the underlying hardware, which otherwise might spend large amounts of time idle.

Operating systems and applications themselves have also been extended to better exploit these and other developments. Plus there’s a whole new generation of network and system management tools to make it easier to roll out, manage and keep this kind of on-demand virtual infrastructure up and running.

And if all that whets your appetite, the rest of this guide will prove invaluable by examining the leading consolidation technologies and tools, as well demonstrating the benefits to businesses that have already taken this path.

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