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Server Selection Guidelines for Limiting the Scope of a Consolidation Assessment


Server Selection Guidelines for Limiting the Scope of a Consolidation Assessment

The following are guidelines for selecting SQL Servers to be part of a limited scope for a Consolidation Assessment.  First, if there is a “natural” grouping of servers within a business unit for example, this makes a lot of sense because the artificial boundaries are not imposed.  If this is not the case, a decision needs to be made on which servers to include in the scope.

The following is a list of dimensions that may be considerations in the selection criteria:

1.Physical Location – Many organizations have multiple physical locations where servers live.  Often, these servers are at physical locations that make access to the data faster.  For this reason, we recommend choosing servers from a single physical location.
2.Production – Typically, the production server footprint is the largest footprint within a datacenter.  These servers are almost always the busiest and really lays the foundation for the Dev/Test/QA environments to follow in the footsteps.
3.Network Segments – At times, the network is segmented for various reasons.  Choosing servers on the same network segment removes one more barrier to cross in implementation.
4.Business Unit – Many organizations have business units that do not play well together.  This can be based on regulatory, security, or even political reasons.  Choosing servers that reside in the same Business Unit(s) can make the consolidation assessment more realistic.
5.High Availability Requirements – Systems with current High Availability requirements have already been identified as mission-critical.  As consolidation to fewer servers occurs, these fewer servers become more critical.  By selecting systems that have similar HA requirements, this makes the grouping of servers easier during the analysis.
6.Vendor Enforced Limitations – Although Microsoft has attempted to have ISVs eliminate the Dedicated Server requirement, some ISVs still hold on to it.  If applications from your ISVs require their own dedicated server, exclude them from this list.
7.Age of Servers – Many servers are either scheduled for retirement or about to run out of support from the vendor.  These servers make wonderful candidates for the Consolidation Assessment. 
8.Storage – Servers that share the same SAN are also another form of logical grouping when selecting servers.
9.OLTP / OLAP – Generally speaking, mixing of OLTP and OLAP workloads on a consolidated platform is not desirable.  This is because the setup of the hardware itself is often very different I the two environments.  It is perfectly acceptable to choose a mix of these types of servers.  Just keep in mind that the consolidated environment will also reflect the choices made here.
10.Growth – What is your growth rate for data and processing power needs?  Selecting servers that have similar growth rates is desirable.

In addition, it always advisable to have a list of “alternate” servers available when the engagement begins as experience has taught us that the data center environment may not cooperate.  This list of alternates can help the engagement from getting “stuck”.  There are always many ways to select SQL Servers for this type of engagement; we have learned that the dimensions listed above have the most impact.

To learn more about Scalability Experts consolidation services please view our Consolidation and Virtualization Solution Page.


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