Bottom-line, companies today are looking for any way to decrease costs. Cost savings strategies currently being implemented by many companies include upgrading data centers by leveraging solutions such as server, storage and network virtualization.
Evolving Solution’ Data Center Leaders interview series turns its attention back to the subject of data center cost avoidance this week in our interview with Omar Sultan, Senior Solution Manager for Data Center Switching for the Cisco Data Center Solutions team.
Sultan has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry working work for a number of Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining Cisco, Sultan developed a broad range of experience ranging from data center management to network operations. A member of Cisco’s team since 1999, Sultan’s current responsibilities center on the Cisco data center switching portfolio.
In our interview with Sultan below, we discuss how server, storage and network virtualization can lower data center costs today and look into our crystal balls to determine what solutions may be on tap for the future:
What tips would you offer for business seeking to reduce data center costs?
I think, in the long run, server, storage and network virtualization is the best bet for sustained cost reductions. Technologies such as VMware or Hyper-V can be enormously helpful in reducing the cost of server infrastructure. Similarly switch virtualization technologies such as virtual device contents (VDC) and virtual port channels (vPC) on our data center switches can simplify network infrastructure.
So, these technologies can save you CapEx up front, but they open up a second area of savings by reducing OpEx–less infrastructure will lower costs around power, cooling, cabling and rack space.
Unified fabric would be another example of both reducing upfront costs and setting the stage for sustained savings. Virtualized infrastructure is also simpler to manage, so that opens up another avenue of savings–increased productivity of your operations staff.
This brings us to the second area, which is improved operations efficiency. While this is often viewed as “soft” savings, the truth is the people are often still the biggest single budget line item so anything that can be done on this front is important, whether it is improved management and automation tools or a more efficient organizational structure.
Are there inherent dangers in trying to make your data center too cost efficient?
With a few exceptions, customers are telling us that their year-over-year budgets are flat to declining, so I am not sure “too efficient” is an issue. I think the bigger risk is not being able to provide support to the business in the areas it needs–and these days, that especially means areas that impact the top line.
Things like energy efficiency and server, storage and network virtualization help drive budget efficiency–they let you target spending where it does the most good. They also give you more efficient and flexible access to you IT resources so you can run a leaner provisioning model (i.e. less over-provisioning) without running the risk of being caught flat-footed if the business buts some kind of unexpected demand on the IT infrastructure.
What products or solutions do you envision reducing data center costs 5 years down the road?
If we fast forward 5 years, I think we will continue to see the existing virtualization trends mature–I think they will be fully mainstream by them and will be the de facto operating environment for most companies.
I think we will see a sea change in management in the next five years, with greater use of automation and the introduction of more holistic management models, which will further drive up operations productivity and reduce the costs associated with management and operations. I also think we will see a continued evolution and maturing of cloud computing as a solution to the point that enterprise companies will start designing their facilities to handle more typical loads and rely on cloud providers to help weather peak load situations.