Consolidation power tools

Much of the software you need to plan consolidation efforts may already be in place. If not, beware of overkill

Can software management tools help bring your consolidation initiative under control? It depends. Certainly solutions abound that can help with one of the first steps: identifying and analyzing the hardware, software, and infrastructure you already have in place.

Your server vendor may provide server management tools that can help you take inventory -- and you may already have an asset management platform from BMC, CA, HP, LANDesk, Microsoft, MRO Software, Novell, or Peregrine. Not only can these platforms identify servers, components, and software, but they can also provide important performance indicators, such as server CPU utilization to help you pinpoint likely candidates for consolidation and provide leasing and contract information that can be relevant to your consolidation plans.

Some also help you pinpoint relationships among servers, applications, and networks to help you plan your move with minimal disruption. First American took advantage of HP’s OpenView and Mercury BTO Enterprise to inventory its network and discover relevant application/hardware relationships.

Datacenter and change management software tools can also help. Veritas Configuration Manager, a module in Veritas Server Foundation, dynamically maps server and software relationships and tracks all configuration changes to help you understand the impact of consolidation changes. Aperture Vista not only provides detailed inventory and relationship maps but also provides tools for optimizing the design and layout of a new datacenter, managing the communication of the move to the business, and instituting datacenter management best practices. Similarly, Visser Software Services Showrack provides visualization tools for mapping out cost-effective equipment layouts in your consolidated datacenters.

There are also business-continuity and disaster-recovery modeling applications such as Strohl Systems LDRPS and Sungard Paragon that can help you build dependency maps that even take into account the business processes the hardware and software support.

Virtualization has become a big component in consolidation, and virtualization vendors offer tools, such as VMware’s Capacity Planner, for identifying virtualization candidates as well as P2V (physical-to-virtual) migration tools to build your virtual servers. For large-scale virtualization deployments, third-party migration tools, such as those from LeoStream and PlateSpin, can automate large numbers of P2V migrations over the network from a single console.

This broad range of tools can be useful in your consolidation process, but if you’re not already up to speed with them, they can also complicate things. “We looked at a variety of different tools for assessment, but it became obvious that it would be too time-consuming to get up and running and get the data back, especially on our highly segmented network,” says Alan Madsen, systems engineer at KMD. “In the end, we did a manual assessment instead.”