Giving legacy systems a tuneup

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Bumping up against the life expectancy of your data center? Use these best practices to delay a costly expansion

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the 1,200-square-foot data center at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering -- that means it's been in use four years longer than CIO and vice president of operations Joanne Kossuth originally expected. The facility needs more capacity and better connectivity, but Kossuth has been forced to put those needs on the back burner because of the state of the economy.

"Demand has certainly increased over the years, pushing the data center to its limits, but the recession has tabled revamp discussions," she says.

Like many of her peers, including leaders at Citigroup and Marriott International, Kossuth has had to get creative to squeeze more out of servers, storage and the facility itself. To do so, she's had to re-examine the life cycles of data and applications, storage array layouts, rack architectures, server utilization, orphaned devices, and more.

Rakesh Kumar, an analyst at Gartner, says he's been bombarded by inquiries from large organizations looking for ways to avoid the cost of a data center upgrade, expansion, or relocation. "Any data center investment costs at minimum tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars. With a typical data center refresh rate of five to 10 years, that's a lot of money. So companies are looking for alternatives," he says.

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