Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More on Consolidation

Sun Microsystems is promoting Expansion by Consolidation as a way of "simplifying IT environments to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)."

The biggest lesson for effective consolidation is to "standardize wherever possible."
If a company is supporting 5 different Web servers with 10 different plug-ins and 15 different configurations, it limits flexibility, increases costs, and heightens security risks.
Sun has developed a series of 10 Rules for Consolidation. Below is an edited excerpt:
1. Get executive-level support
A consolidation project may involve multiple applications with many owners who come from various divisions in an organization. Early executive-level support can help head off turf wars among business units.
2. Agree on the business goals
Consolidation may involve asking people to give up control of a server or application for which they bear responsibility. Unless they understand that there is a clear business goal, such as reducing overhead for their department, they are unlikely to willingly go along with the consolidation plan.
3. Proactively address company politics
Individual business units have different priorities. For example, an investment bank might have a few applications that calculate derivatives, and each application might have a single user. It might seem like a slam dunk to recommend consolidating those applications, until the investment bank balks that each application is handling billions of dollars in business and that it would rather not fix something that isn't broken.
4. Establish service level agreements
A company needs to have a clear understanding of the service levels that can be expected in a consolidated environment before any consolidation takes place. As with the previous three rules, people will be wary -- or worse, blame the consolidated environment for their problems -- unless they know up front the resources and service levels that will be at their disposal post-consolidation.
5. Standardize wherever possible
The most important aspect for consolidation is to develop a standardized set of applications. Standardized configuration not only leads to economies of scale, but also goes a long way toward improving security.
6. Perform extensive planning and documentation
Consolidation comes with risk. Planning and documenting can help make sure everything is put together correctly to mitigate risks, and it can help an organization put everything back together if something does go seriously wrong.
7. Allocate appropriate time, skills and resources to the effort
Many consolidation efforts can get compromised or sub-optimized if customers do not allocate enough time or the correct people to the effort for proper planning, analysis, architecting, testing, implementation, or socialization with business units, stakeholders, and constituents. Failure to do so can lead to implementation problems, operational challenges, production issues, and/or architectures that still demonstrate some level of under-utilization of assets.
8. Train the IT staff on managing the consolidated environment
Consolidation may introduce new technologies, such as virtualization.
9. Develop new applications for the consolidated environment
If standardization is the number one lesson for consolidation, then forward consolidation is number two. Forward consolidation dictates that it is far easier and less expensive to design new applications for the consolidated environment than it is to roll out standalone applications into the environment after they have been built.
10. Get help from an experienced vendor
Look for an experienced vendor who has tools to assist with consolidation efforts and who has been involved with other successful consolidation projects.

Sun uses four basic steps for all of the consolidations that it performs:

Whereas Sun wants to sell its customers new hardware servers and professional consulting services, my company, Flashmap Systems, offers architecture products that assist IT organizations who want to standardize through consolidation. It's been our experience that the key to a successful consolidation implementation depends, first and foremost, on effective communication -- getting everyone on the same page -- demystifying the complexity of technology architecture.


Anonymous Robert Pearson said...

Nice post. You certainly have a wonderful presentation style.
With regard to your statement:
"If a company is supporting 5 different Web servers with 10 different plug-ins and 15 different configurations, it limits flexibility, increases costs, and heightens security risks."

This tells me nothing.
What is the Information these Units of Technology are enabling?
What parts of the company Portfolio Management do they support?
What Line(s) of Business (LOB) are supported?
Where do these Units of Technology fit in the IT Portfolio Management?
After consolidation how easy will it be to de-commission, or de-commission/reconfigure/re-deploy, selected parts of this tightly consolidated infrastructure?
Is there a "defined" value to re-using enabling Units of Technology in the company Portfolio Management, and IT Portfolio Management?
How are the LOB(s) affected?
Keep in mind the Assess, Strategy, Design, Implement, and Manage phases of the "enabling" IT Units of Technology Life Cycle necessary to support and make profitable the Information created, deleted, used, purchased and sold by the LOB(s).

I would recommend the time and money would be better spent identifying two key parts of the company and IT Portfolio Management:
1) Which of your Information, should you lose it, would put you out of business?
2) Which of your Information generates 80% of your revenues?

With regard to the "10 Rules for Consolidation", Sun and these rules need a reality check. Read some of the posts at "".

3:46 AM  

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