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Infrastructure Consolidation Projects

What is consolidation? At first, it seems a process which enables making things with smaller number of resources.

Below picture that depicts the economy of using one resource, one jar, for many fish, which forms a real motivation to managers, and initial understanding of the concept.

I had a chance to coordinate and enroll in operational standardization, consolidation projects.

At first glance,  you may wonder why do we need consolidation or normalization projects? We may find the answers with more questions like following… Why systems fall in a state that are not economically operable? Why whole service responsibility is given on one or two super-persons who never gets ill, or goes to holiday,  having roles like database administration, application server administration, hardware&software procurement, application administration etc? Why not divide and conquer responsibility of service management? Why do we try to use one resource for all problems?

Why people tends to put one fish in one jar, instead of putting more fish in one jar. This maybe because of less knowledge/specialization/expertise in operation, fast, unplanned installations, badly managed projects and vendor driven configurations/installations for applications/services.

Let’s continue on consolidation projects… They took place among different divisions, teams, outsource companies, and tens of people, having goal of responsibility transition to several technology specialized groups such as database, application server, disk, test, security, resource management, procurement  from single responsible group.

After consolidating/normalizing our service/application infrastructure we found a pot of gold, here comes, what is in this pot:

– Opportunity to technology improvement like filesystem to ASM, legacy Sun Cluster to Oracle RAC. It is an opportunity, because you are not renovating, it is a process that designing the underlying infrastructure from scratch.

– Decreasing the number of hardware & software, licenses, operation personnel which lead great savings, which means decreasing OPEX (operational expenditure).

– Combining above two issues, recall that technology inevitably occurs in infrastructure every 3-5 years, due to organic growth of business, and maintenance cost increase, and manager’s will to prefer CAPEX with compared to OPEX.

– Have a chance to harden the underlying infrastructure, because we deal with fewer system. Hardening matrix example

– Adopt “service” concept to infrastructure, for example an application will go to database infrastructure over application server with its database service connection. This lead flexibility in locating services to database instances.

– Applying operational standards (backup, maintenance, patch, etc.), database security standards, change management, not using production for everything, change through development to test and to production environments.

– Compliance with security standards. In our case, compliance with ISO and SOX security requirements. Enabling segregation of duties or simply separation of duties. Centrify, guardium like technologies makes things easy.

– Specialization in operations: Special tasks must be operated by specialized people, in order to make it faster with high quality.

– At last, which is simpler? Defending tens of castles or only one. Such as monitoring a large database, application server, is always a lot more easier than managing tens of them. For example, you will only get one RMAN backup, instead of ten; this is not only database task, but also backup, and first line monitoring task. You could increase the examples for application server administration, Oracle Gateway administration, Oracle EM grid agent administration etc.

A picture which may lead understanding the compliance to security/operational standards, shows the real outcome value of consolidation projects. This is like putting the fish in a bag, and changing the water again and again because it is impossible to use air pump due to its cost or technology. Why not put these fish to modern aquarium with air pump, light, plants, thick glass.

I want to add more words for specialization… In Turkish, there is a saying, “If you own only a hammer, everything seems nail to you.” In real world, do you really have only hammer in your hand, and  nails to be nailed… or specialized tools like screw driver, pliers, saw for screwing a screw, gripping/bending a copper cable, cutting woods etc? You must utilize from specialized tools, people, in your systems… You must divide your service into specialized responsibility areas…

  1. October 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve found out till now.
    However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you positive about the supply?

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