Hardware Sizing

Hardware sizing, or accurately predicting the size of hardware for new or upgraded applications, is a complex and error-prone process. When purchasing application software, the vendor will often have you complete a checklist; they will then come back with recommended sizing. However, there are no guarantees and the estimated hardware is often inaccurate, particularly since hardware costs may affect your software purchase decision. Many times, you may not know exactly how the business will be using the software, therefore forecasting volumes and usage is difficult. The following are suggestions on how companies have reduced costs in this process:

"Server virtualization allowed us to reduce our quantity of servers by 40%."
—Gail Farnsley
Purdue University
(former Cummins CIO)
  • Hire the hardware vendor (e.g., IBM, HP, or Sun) to do the hardware sizing estimate. At times, they provide some guarantees and upgrade options to reduce your risk
  • Do a small-scale pilot to forecast overall needs.
  • Several months after implementation of new software, go back and audit the sizing. Downsize or shift hardware if it can reduce your costs.
  • Consider virtualizing servers. Sizing is much less critical as you have more flexibility and do not have to worry about sizing specific hardware for specific applications.
  • Consider hosting services until exact sizing requirements are known through actual usage statistics.

Server Consolidation

Although the distributed computing movement has been a boon for hardware manufacturers, it has significantly increased the costs and complexity of maintenance and support. Growing servers in all areas of business have been addictive and costly for many organizations. In the past decade, many companies have been trying to reign in and control server growth with server consolidation efforts. Take the time to review your inventory of servers and determine if you are able to consolidate. Although server consolidation does not save short-term costs, it saves in long-term cost of maintenance and support.

In addition to consolidating servers, consolidate infrastructure software tools when possible. Review your inventory list of software products to identify tools that provide the same functionality, which you can then eliminate. One company saved $150,000 in maintenance expenses by eliminating nonstrategic legacy infrastructure software tools. Another company consolidated three software distribution packages down to one and saved $50,000 in maintenance and support expenses.

When doing server consolidation, consider virtualizing servers at the same time. As you need to reinstall applications on new servers with consolidation, it is not that much more complex to implement a virtualized server environment at the same time with even more benefits.