I'm a consultant, so part of my job is to sit through meetings that hash over hardware specifications for IT projects -- most often network equipment and servers, and sometimes load-balancing and security gear, too.
At every meeting, there's always one guy who insists that the only thing that will do the job is the Fists of God platform, replete with quad-socket boxes, a terabyte of RAM in each, 10G switching, 8Gb Fibre Channel, and so on. If salespeople are in attendance, they'll be nodding at a furious rate, encouraging this extravagant thinking with ego-boosting factoids they cribbed from some overheated marketing presentation.
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And the reality is that the project in question would probably do fine with just 25 percent of that gear.
Being gearheads, computer geeks commonly fall into the trap of wanting the latest and greatest hardware to run whatever they're doing. Couple that with the fear of producing an underperforming solution, and that's how you wind up with $12,000 boxes serving only DHCP. It makes part of the IT hardware world go around, and there are certainly applications for 48-core servers, but in general, the hardware you purchase is far more capable than the services it's tasked with.
In most corporate IT shops, there's no simple way to forecast the actual requirements of a new application or service, but in most cases there are suitable analogues to examine that can greatly reduce the capital expenditures of a new project while sacrificing nothing. This is especially true in the virtualized server world, where resources can be added down the road without too much pain.
A good place to look for metrics is at the network core. If you're not already collecting data on how hard your network is working, stop reading this right now and start collecting that information. There's no excuse to have those particular blinders on at this stage of the game.