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Gartner hails datacentre cost savings of halting virtual machine sprawl

Gartner claims CIOs could be missing out on datacentre cost savings by considering server virtualisation a done job

Enterprises could be missing out on sizeable IT budget savings by failing to address the issue of virtual machine sprawl within their datacentres, Gartner has warned.

Speaking at Gartner’s Datacentre, Infrastructure and Operations Management Summit in central London, research director Nathan Hill said its findings suggest the datacentre accounts for the largest proportion (42%) of the average enterprise’s infrastructure and operations budget.

For companies working to a cost-reduction agenda, it certainly makes sense for them to turn their attention to the datacentre to trim their overall IT spend, he advised.

However, those that have already gone through the process of sever consolidation and virtualisation may feel the bulk of the work has already been done, but that is not necessarily true, said Hill.

In some cases, the push to adopt virtualisation makes it easier for new workloads to be deployed, he explained, which can dilute the financial benefits that were previously achieved.   

“It’s very easy to create new workloads when you have a virtualised infrastructure and an orchestration mechanism to deploy new workloads. If you don’t have good controls on that, you get virtual machine sprawl,” Hill said.

“You might be increasing the physical infrastructure and related costs just as fast, albeit with many more workloads to manage.”

To avoid this, Hill said enterprises need to have processes in place to ensure they are regularly re-evaluating the workloads they are running and why.    

“You really need to embed this process into what you do on an ongoing basis to make sure you’re optimising workloads. Not just as a one-time activity, but as an ongoing activity,” he said.

When it comes to weighing up datacentre costs, one of the biggest areas of consideration for enterprises is whether or not to build one themselves or opt for colocation, added Hill.

Read more about datacentre colocation trends

While the DIY route requires a sizeable upfront investment, colocation can work out more expensive in some instances, he warned.

“What we’ve found is when you look at colocation, there are cost reduction opportunities that come with scale. But, as you get higher and higher levels of utilisation, the unit cost for you hosting your infrastructure will reduce and it is kind of a break point,” Hill said.

“If you have 50 racks of infrastructure and the per rack, per month cost is more than $1,500, that might be two parameters that push you towards the DIY approach, but it’s not really an apples for apple comparison.”

Indeed, even if the per unit cost of running your infrastructure in a colocation facility is higher than doing it yourself, there may be other reasons why opting out of building their own facility is the way to go for the enterprise, Hill explained.

“If you need the agility, it might make sense for those workloads to go to colocation,” he said.

Even so, Hill said it is Gartner’s view that it is rarely a case of one or the other, as many enterprises are already running a mix-and-match approach to colocation, hosting and cloud.

Read more on Datacentre capacity planning