The Dollars and (Common) Cents of Centralized Systems

How much space are you devoting to servers?

Once you devote a closet to accommodating a server, it kind of limits what else you might be able to do with that floor space. Look around your enterprise, count up the computing power you have spread all over the place, factor it down to what you might actually need for each of the systems now running on their own dedicated server and then add up the amount of space each of those boxes takes up.

I think you will likely find a lot of wasted square footage.

Everything Old Is New Again

Many companies have started to pull servers back into a centralized environment where they can begin to find the answers to the above questions. Row after row of rack-mounted servers are going to take up much less square footage than the decentralized, localized architecture.

Suddenly the raised floor, the limited-access IT area, the climate-controlled, positive-air-pressure, halon- (or whatever they use today) protected room is back. Even the water pipe, the subject of such ridicule over the years, is now returning to cool the rack-mounted servers filling these newly consolidated operating centers.

All of this “mainframe” stuff is now part of the equation when you are costing out alternatives as far as platforms in your data center. Be very careful that you are indeed comparing fruit with fruit when you start adding up the MIPS required, MIPS delivered and total cost of ownership for a mainframe-centered environment versus a server farm.

I recently read a blog posting from a gentleman who had started down one road and ended up changing directions. His Intel-based data center was approaching $850,000; his finished mainframe facility cost him around $240,000.

I’m not saying this is going to be the result for every implementation. But, as we move away from the decentralized “chaos” of servers anywhere and everywhere, and the concept of a centralized facility is embraced again, be prepared to honestly evaluate the two architectures on their true merits, liabilities and real costs.

Lou Washington is the master of MIPS at software and services provider Cincom Systems. In his spare time, he’s also a senior business manager. He can be reached at [email protected]. Nearly one-third of Cincom’s customers still use its products running in the mainframe environment.