[LINK] Consolidating Data Centres Like Compacting Garbage

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Fri Aug 13 14:41:38 AEST 2010

Greetings from Data Centre Strategics in Sydney 
<http://www.dcstrategics.com/strategics_sydney_overview.html>, where I 
just talked on Green ICT 

But I got a little tired of hearing talks about the value of 
consolidating data centres and virtualising servers. So I strayed from 
my prepared talk and described consolidation of data centres and server 
vitalisation as being like using a garbage compactor. If you have a 
large volume of garbage, you can use a compactor to make it smaller, but 
you still have the same amount of garbage, just in a smaller space. The 
material you have has not improved in value, it is still garbage.

In a similar way server consolidation results in the same software and 
data running on a more compact computer system. Most of the software and 
data on the systems, in my experience, is garbage. An organisation can 
be running dozens or hundreds of instances of web servers, mail servers, 
database applications and other software, when they really just need a 
few. Similarly most of the data in the systems is duplicated and in 
inefficient formats. As a result, perhaps 99% of the hardware capacity 
is wasted dealing with unnecessary software and data.

The way to deal with garbage is to is sift it, retaining the small 
amount of valuable material and disposing of the rest. In a similar way 
IT people need to sift through the applications and data in their 
systems, to retain the small amount of value and disposing of the rest.

As an example, I pointed out that the Learning Management System used 
for my Green ICT course is outsourced to specialist companies. Rather 
than have the software run on a computer at the ANU which is running 
assorted other software, it is on a system dedicated to running this LMS 
and related software. This then allows the hardware and operating 
system, to be tuned to this application. Also the use of the LMS removes 
the need for many other specialised applications. The LMS needs a 
database server and a web server, but that is about all.

Similarly the course content has been carefully tuned to be efficient. I 
avoid using inefficient PDF documents, instead using HTML. This results 
in much smaller files (about one tenth the size). The LMS helps with 
this as it will format the web pages for printing, without the need to 
turn the content into PDF.

As a byproduct of this web design, the content can be displayed on smart 
phones and tablet computers as well as ordinary desktop computers. Along 
with other optimisations this results in a course which takes about 1% 
of the resources which would be typically required. This saves the 
university some money, but more importantly benefits the students, who 
can access the course from a remote location over a slow Internet link.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/

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