Server Consolidation

Server Consolidation
The amount of deployed instances of Microsoft sql Server in the enterprise is on the rise as a database management system. Microsoft set out to provide an effective database management system that meets multiple goals for information technology organizations. sql Server, a Microsoft product, is designed to deliver scalable solutions while offering ease of use and deployment, self maintenance and tuning, low resource overhead, and low administrator skill set requirements. The seeming rise in popularity of sql Server has resulted in an upsurge of installations in the corporate environment. This trend is frequently described as server sprawl. In some instances, this has led to uncoordinated installations, wasted hardware and licenses, lack of standards in an enterprise, and security holes. These problems can be mitigated by server consolidation. Consolidation is the combination of sql Server databases running on different systems that are usually geographically dispersed, onto a smaller number of more powerful systems in a central location. The result is greater performance and reliability as well as an easing of administration duties.As organizations use ever increasing numbers of applications to manage business processes, provide new services, and gain an insight into business performance, the number of application servers and data storage servers that are required to support those applications has grown significantly. In many organizations, the hardware costs and the overhead of deploying and maintaining multiple servers throughout the enterprise is a major financial and logistical burden. (Allix/Malcom)
In a perfect world consolidating all sql Server instances would be a simple task. However, in the real world, consolidation requires careful planning and consideration. When consolidating servers, you should expect politics to be a factor. Quite often, departments are reluctant to turn over management of their databases to another group. Sometimes, these concerns stem from territorial disagreements. More frequently the concern is that the sql Server databases will no longer have the benefit of the level of support that users are accustomed to once the servers acquire new owners. Managers must take care to ensure that the consolidated solution will offer better support than what they are currently receiving in house, and it is essential that a Service Level Agreement is established so that expectations are fully understood by the user department and the new server owner. Server consolidation also calls for fault tolerant hardware. When consolidating multiple databases onto a single server, recognize that if that server fails, you no longer have just a single database out of commission. Every database on the consolidated server is at risk, and visibility is now much higher. Instead of a single section being inconvenienced, multiple sections will feel the impact of the failure, possibly undermining confidence in the consolidation effort. This means you may need to cluster your sql Server installations using sql Server Enterprise Edition or sql Server Standard Edition, along with Windows Server 2003. You may also need additional expensive hardware and clustering training for your database administrators and network administrators.
From this article I gathered that sql server consolidation provides many benefits. This includes improved server uptime. Consolidated environments normally mean improved systems running on clusters with a storage area network in the background. This facilitates delivery of enterprise wide reliability and availability. This has the added benefit of improved performance. Consolidated environments allow you to have many databases running on high performance hardware, typically with high-speed disk subsystems, abundant memory and 64-bit machines. This means queries run in parallel and much faster than on 32-bit machines.
When you consolidate data systems onto fewer servers, each of these servers takes on an increase in workload. Higher performance hardware may resolve some issues, but you can still have problems when some of the processes on the consolidated server use a disproportionate amount of resources and cause other processes to underperform. There are also problems when one process locks resources and prevents other processes from completing. (Allix/Malcom)
Another benefit is improved monitoring. A consolidated environment supports many databases on a single machine, so uptime becomes very important. Monitoring becomes proactive rather than reactive, optimizing performance and uptimes.
Lastly, there is more efficient use of human capital. A consolidated environment usually requires fewer personnel, freeing database administrators from routine tasks to focus on system planning and engineering. Partitioning functionality into a dedicated group leverages knowledge that may not otherwise be available. A recovery unit dedicated solely to recovering sql Servers will become skilled at all aspects of backup and restoration, allowing customized solutions for each problem and offering better turn around times over a database administrator or staff that is not familiar with recovery or a server?s recovery solution.

Conclusion

Consolidating sql Servers allows managers to avoid sprawl issues by administering their enterprise more efficiently, monitoring more effectively, enforcing standards, providing superior availability and achieving greater performance for their hardware dollar. Another benefit of a consolidated sql Server environment is better overall performance and labor division. Database administrators can spend more time planning and being proactive as opposed to managing and fighting fires. sql Server consolidation requires careful planning and Service Level Agreement negotiation with clients. Inadequate planning will affect many customers and may cause them to lose confidence in management consolidation efforts.
By providing a centralized data services management interface and declarative, policy-based configuration management, sql Server makes it easy for organizations with multiple data stores to reduce management overhead. Finally, industry-leading performance of sql Server 2008 and the ability to explicitly control how your server resources are used enables you to consolidate your data services while providing the scalability and performance your applications need.

Server Consolidation 8 of 10 on the basis of 1781 Review.