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Consolidate Databases using Microsoft SQL

Server
From many to few; learn how to use SQL Server to reduce your database footprint.

Info-Tech Research Group

Introduction
Although database consolidation has traditionally been thought of as a risky practice, recent
improvements to SQL Server make it a reliable platform for consolidation. Organizations that are
not yet consolidating are wasting resources.

This Research Is Designed For:

This Research Will Help You:

Organizations of all sizes that are considering the costs

Understand the benefits of database consolidation,

and benefits of database consolidation onto SQL Server.

Organizations looking to advance their database


consolidation strategy into production environments.

CIOs and data center managers looking to implement a


comprehensive, phased consolidation process and to
avoid common consolidation pitfalls.

from cost reduction to performance benefits.

Select the right consolidation model based on your


organizations needs and requirements.

Dive deeper into major considerations for each stage


of consolidation; including planning, piloting, testing,
upgrades, and decommissioning of servers.

Advice provided in this solution set is specific to consolidation on SQL Server. Although SQL Server is
the most popular platform for consolidation, consolidation on another platform may be a more viable
solution for your needs. If you are looking to consolidate on Oracle, please refer to Info-Techs solution
set Assess Oracles Role in the Enterprise Database Strategy for Oracle-specific advice.

Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary
Understand the value of consolidation

The most common reason for consolidation is reducing TCO; however, there are plenty of other benefits to consolidation;
including more centralized management, reduced data center space requirements, and improved performance.

Considering consolidation on SQL Server? You are not alone:


o 34% of organizations surveyed have either consolidated or are in the process of consolidation.
o Another 39% are planning to consolidate in the next 18 months.
Create the consolidation strategy

Consolidation strategy is two-fold: Select your consolidation model based on criteria such as security, manageability, and
high availability and choose your SQL Server edition.

Consolidation models include database, instance, and virtualization.


o Info-Tech cautions against using the cloud for hosting databases. Revisit this option in 24-36 months.
Organizations choosing virtualization have the option of consolidating, stabilizing, and then virtualizing or taking a shortcut
and jumping into the virtualization project right away. Info-Tech recommends the former approach.

Organizations have the option of consolidating on SQL Server 2008R2 or the recently released 2012 edition.
Implement a phased consolidation process
The planning stage is key to a success process; thoroughly profile candidates for consolidation and prepare for
consolidation-related risks to achieve higher satisfaction with database performance, availability, uptime, and security.

Follow Info-Techs detailed 5-step implementation model to ensure a successful consolidation process.

Info-Tech Research Group

Understand the value of consolidation


Whats in this Section:

Understand the major drivers of consolidation.


Recognize the features of recent SQL Server versions that
facilitate stable consolidation.

Consider whether a phased or all-at-once approach is


appropriate.

Start thinking about best practices and common pitfalls of

Sections:
Understand the value of
consolidation
Create the consolidation
strategy
Implement a phased
consolidation process

consolidation with Info-Techs case studies.

Info-Tech Research Group

Organizations are wasting significant resources by running


under-utilized servers
Historically, hosting one SQL Server instance per server was the safest
approach. Today, it only leads to an unnecessary number of servers.
Past problems isolating SQL Server database instances
made hosting multiple databases on the same server a
risky decision. Corruption in one instance often bled over
into other instances. As a result, organizations often
added a dedicated server for each application they were
running, leading to database sprawl.

73% of organizations have consolidated


already or plan to do so in the near
future. If you choose to consolidate, you
arent alone!

This resulted in unnecessary licensing costs, higher


support and facility costs, and under-utilizing the existing
architecture including servers that often lie completely
idle.

However, recent improvements in database


technologies; including the ability to easily isolate
instances, mean that organizations can safely
consolidate on SQL Server as long as they follow a
structured approach to ensure the process is done
correctly.

Info-Tech Research Group

N = 82. Source: InfoTech Research Group

Consolidation benefits can be achieved in most situations


regardless of organization size or location
Consolidation is not just for the large. In fact, small
organizations are most likely to be planning a consolidation in
the near future and medium organizations are most likely to
have already consolidated.

Adoption levels are not significantly


affected by an organizations
location.

Info-Tech Research Group, n=47.

It's a matter of degree. Any consolidation is better than it was before. Any time you can retire a dedicated server
(whether end-of-life or not) is a win for the IT Department. Consolidation cuts down on power usage, system
administrator effort, hardware support costs, etc.
- IT manager, Healthcare Industry

Info-Tech Research Group

Consolidation was once a risky practice, but with recent SQL


Server improvements, this is no longer the case
While pre-2008 versions of SQL Server may have been inappropriate for consolidation, 2008R2 and
2012 are suitable platforms for doing so. Use SQL Server 2008 R2 as the bare minimum for consolidation. If you
are running an earlier version, consider consolidation as you upgrade to achieve even greater savings.
Recent SQL releases contain the following improvements that make it a reliable solution for consolidation:

Storage

Data compression enables


more effective, lower cost
storage with improved
performance for large I/O
workloads. Compression also
reduces the cost of business
continuity.
Backup compression reduces
the size of the backup and the
time to backup. Disk size is often
reduced by 20-60%.

Info-Tech Research Group

Security
Three levels of isolation:
Database: access to the database
is controlled on a user-by-user
basis.
Server: access to the instance is
controlled by using logins.
Operating System: access to the
OS is controlled by using Windows
or Active Directory accounts.
Other important features include
transparent data encryption (TDE)
and SQL Server Audit .

High Availability

Failover clustering offers either


automatic or manual clustering
with greater redundancy and
control. Improvements make it
easier to create and manage
clusters.
Database mirroring ensures
the database remains available
at all times. Improvements
include log stream compression,
automatic suspect page
recovery, and clients do not need
to be reconfigured to access the
mirrored database during
failover.

Even a relatively conservative consolidation ratio, such as 2:1,


will save organizations a lot in the long term
SQL Server leads the market in terms of TCO, but even though each
individual server is relatively inexpensive, the numbers add up quicky
Even the most conservative of organizations are
easily achieving a 2:1 or 3:1 consolidation ratio.
The opportunity exists to achieve much higher ratios
as well. This will create savings on licensing costs,
power costs, maintenance costs, hardware costs,
staff costs, and training costs.

If your hardware budget allows, you can achieve a


100:1 reduction ratio! I did a theoretical calculation and
purely from a performance capability standpoint, I could
do an entire global consolidation (about 1200 instances)
with only two physical machines.
- Martijn van der Munnik, Technology Consultant

Through consolidation and


virtualization of our SQL Server
databases we reduced our licensing
expenses by 75%.

For example: A mid-size organization is currently running 19


instances of SQL Server. Estimating that each instance of SQL
Server has a 6-year TCO of $78 thousand, then the total cost of their
set-up is is $1.4 million.

- Technology Consultant

If the organization was able to achieve even a 2:1 reduction ratio, it


would be saving over $741 thousand dollars in the same 6 years.

6-Year TCO: 19 X $78K = $1.4M

Info-Tech Research Group

6-year TCO: $659K


Savings of $741K over 6 years
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There are benefits to consolidation beyond simple cost savings


Consolidation is an effective way to achieve
the following organizational goals:
Reduced data center space requirements

Consolidation leads to higher organizational


satisfaction with database infrastructures.

High

Creating a more effective use of space and


hardware in the data center, as well as
decreasing the environmental impact due to
cooling and power usage.

Satisfaction
with Databases

Improved management and standardization


Leading to more efficient management of the
databases.
Increasing the ability to implement standard
processes and procedures.
Increasing the horizontal integration of business
units.

Status of Database Consolidation


N=67

Low

Streamlined technical skills

Organizations that consolidated their databases


reported higher satisfaction with the following:

Decreasing the need for multiple skill sets.


Streamlined knowledge requirements for end
users.

Info-Tech Research Group

Performance
Uptime
Availability
Security

Although it is possible to roll out the entire consolidation


project at once, a phased approach is more successful
Organizations have two options for
their consolidation project:

Phased Approach

All-At-Once Approach

1) All-at-once approach: Organizations identify all the


databases they wish to consolidate and complete the
process in one round. Following the consolidation, they
deal with any points of failure.
2) Phased approach: Organizations consolidate a small
number of non-critical instances first, stabilize and
monitor them, deal with any failure points, and then
extend their consolidation to more complex, missioncritical databases.

Info-Tech recommends taking a phased


approach, if possible. This approach may
take longer in the beginning, but will help
minimize long-term problems and streamline
the process for both IT and the business.
Organizations that choose an all-at-once
approach risk potential failure points affecting
all of their databases, including mission-critical
ones.

Info-Tech Research Group

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Keep the business informed about changes to business


processes, but dont let them control the consolidation project
Consolidation doesnt affect IT alone; make sure the process is transparent to the business as
well. Consolidation does present some risks and the chance that business processes may be affected. Keep business
stakeholders informed about any changes that affect them, and involve them in the testing of end results to ensure the
overall success of your project.
The owner of the process is always IT. The business should act as an advisor rather than a leader.
Process

Role of Business

Role of IT

Planning for
consolidation-related
risks

Approve

Conduct

Gathering Business
Requirements

Provide a description
of user-based needs

Create an inventory of
business requirements

Planning for the pilot


project

Validate the decision

Identify the databases


that will be used during
the pilot

User Acceptance
Testing

Execute

Determine the timelines


and validate the results

Dont let the business dictate


the consolidation process, the
type of consolidation, or the
database environment that
you set up. Abstract what is
running and what it is
running on.
Learn the businesss needs
and create a solution around
them.

"Typically it is the business that pays for acquiring and installing the servers, and since they pay for them, they don't want to
feel as though they are not getting what they've paid for. You must effectively communicate the benefits of consolidation to
the business stakeholders. They need to be involved in the entire process and once its completed, they shouldn't feel like
they've lost anything.
- Cecil Newton, Director of Technology Services at San Francisco Health Plan
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