How IT Managers Can Reduce Data Center Costs

Every business today is digging deep to find ways to remain profitable. Many are finding opportunities in their data centers. Knowledge Center contributor Jason Perlewitz explains how data center managers can use advanced matrix switch technology in their data center to significantly decrease operating costs and reduce energy consumption.

Data center managers need to operate within their organization's budget guidelines, while keeping efficiency and energy consumption in mind. As they're being cost-conscious, they can't lose sight of the high standard of five-nines (99.999 percent) that is expected of reliable networks. Luckily, matrix switch technology not only supports increased efficiencies in device usage but also enables facilities to reduce the number of monitoring devices.

The following are four key cost savings that result from the deployment of matrix switch technology:

No. 1: Monitor with less equipment

A look into many data center facilities today reveals the common five-nines requirement; that is, the need to deploy monitoring tools such as protocol analyzers, network probes and intrusion detection system appliances to create a DPI (deep packet inspection) solution. This plan, while sound, is cost-prohibitive for many large facilities that must monitor hundreds or thousands of ports, oftentimes in multiple data centers.

A matrix switch enables the electronic sharing of network monitoring equipment, thereby significantly reducing the number of devices needed to achieve 100 percent network visibility. This technology is such that a tool is physically connected into the switch just once, and then engineers can share equipment via a software interface from their workstations.

To understand the full impact of the matrix switching solution, consider, for example, companies with multiple purpose-built data centers. Such enterprises often require monitoring capabilities that include DPI, traffic analysis, network break-fix and more. Matrix switch technology makes it possible to reduce these monitoring equipment investments by an average of 50 percent per data center-while still guaranteeing they will have full network visibility. While no hard data is available, it is certainly easy to project that capital equipment savings can reach well into the six-figure range.

Now take into consideration the maintenance costs for these tools. Many IT departments spend 60 to 80 percent of their budgets on vendor maintenance fees, upgrade costs or multiyear outsourcing contracts. The annual cost savings offered by a matrix switching solution alone can often pay for the installation of such technology.

No. 2: Improve productivity

Network managers and test engineers need to operate within their organization's budget guidelines, so efficiency and productivity are critical. With electronic device-sharing making it possible to manage device connections from a central location, the need to physically re-cable a switch is eliminated. This is significant because engineers no longer have to leave their workstation, go to the data center, gain access, re-cable equipment connections, and then go back and resume work. Even if this process goes smoothly, it can still take perhaps 15 to 30 minutes to complete (or much longer if the issue is difficult to resolve, the data center has an extensive array of equipment or if it is in a remote location).

With a matrix switch deployment, the network engineer can manage the entire monitoring infrastructure from a remote computer screen and make device changes instantly-and securely-via the software interface. Connecting a device from one network port to another is accomplished with a simple mouse click, and all in a matter of seconds. Considering the salary for a typical network engineer, the time savings can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. In the case of large enterprises with many network engineers, these "manual energy" cost savings can be monumental.