Lesson from Server Consolidation of the 90’s


Remember the late 90’s trend of “Server Consolidation”. Back at the turn of the century server consolidation was the other hot topic next to Y2K.

Organizations were suffering from server sprawl. To alleviate the issue a movement to consolidate servers was undertaken across the industry. The concept was very simple. Combine application and services on servers that had complimentary application load schedules. An example was to take your Clarity Application server and share hardware and OS with your Backup server.

Backups are ran at night and Clarity is used during the day; Perfect marriage right? Well the reality was very much different than the concept. What we discovered was that the Backup guys always wanted to reboot the server and performed maintenance during the times that the CRM couldn’t take an outage. In addition the Clarity guys wouldn’t support the application because it shared an OS with Arcserve. The result, you could never achieve the lofty consolidation numbers initially thought possible at the onset of the project.

Why do I bring this up you ask? The same lessons can be learned about P2V virtualization initiatives. When presenting the idea of virtualization to senior management, make sure you do your research when it comes to the nature of your applications. Today’s hardware and virtualization software are light years ahead of the tools I used 10 years ago but that doesn’t mean you can consolidate everything in your datacenter into a virtualized platform.

The main problem isn’t obvious performance concerns. There are other hidden considerations. I’ve found the biggest to be application vendor support. There are a lot of software vendors that don’t understand virtualization. They don’t have the internal skill to understand how to support their applications in a virtualized environment. So, most just opt not to support it at all.

So, even though that application is running on an old beige box doesn’t automatically mean it is a slam dunk virtualization candidate. When doing your due diligence for a presentation on your virtualization project make sure to contact all of your application vendors and see if the application is not just certified to run on a virtual platform but the platform you are considering is supported by your vendor.

One thought on “Lesson from Server Consolidation of the 90’s”

  1. You said “beige box”!

    No joke and true story…I had a client at the end of 2010 that was letting their previous IT guy buy tower servers for a utility closet space…you had to turn sideways to get into the “MDF”!

    My first thought – get a rack and consolidate using rack servers! Next, virtualize, please.

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