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The Federal CIO’s guide to partnering with Quest Software for Data Center Consolidation, Part I

[Note 1: the bulk of this blog post was done on an Apple iPad - I point this out not because of a fascination with the iPad, but because of the fact that such long documents were not readily possible from a mobile platform only a few years ago.  That still amazes me.]

[Note 2: this is a very rough, stream of consciousness blog entry.  Grammar, spelling and other writing errors should be ignored. If you want a nice, clean "white paper" type of document, please contact me offline, and I'll get you something cold and clinical.]

The current administration has developed the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) with every agency and department falling under scrutiny. It is  mandated by administration as a way to cut costs as well as secure the environment. This document does not seek to go into detail about the FDCCI but outline how Quest software can help every agency and department with the overall initiative.

The focus of the initiative is on physically collapsing all centers to a much fewer number. Of course, this is not just an exercise in put all the servers into a single room.  This is an opportunity to both consolidate, and update the environment as well as potentially modernize key systems and platforms.  And this is where Quest can help.

At a high level, the entire consolidation will involve the following steps:

  1. An assessment of the current environment, determining the disposition of every item to be included or excluded from the consolidation
  2. As part of the assessment, it is good to determine and establish baselines for services
  3. Prep work to get platforms or systems ready to be moved to their new environment - this includes any procurement and training that needs to occur
  4. The actual movement itself, which may be as simple as putting the same server into a new location or as complicated as migrating to an entirely new system on new hardware, operating system, platform, etc
  5. Tuning and optimization of the systems to their new environment
  6. Post-mortem review and on-going monitoring and maintenance

Depending on the agency or department, the age and condition of the systems, the number of users and administrators involved and the number of data centers, the time for each step will vary.

In all of this, personnel will also be affected. Not only may IT staff have a new location to go to, but they will also need new skills and tools. And with this, it would be good practice to audit and adjust access controls to make sure additional rights are not unduly granted.

Over the next few weeks, as time permits, I will be exploring the different areas of this sort of project, and tying it back to solutions that Quest Software provides. The hope is to give a good, solid overview of the help available from Quest in making this move.  Many of the topics covered will also apply to other situations, and later on, I'll make the case that many of our solutions are "dual purpose" meaning they may be used by one set of users for a particular task, but that a different set of users may also benefit from the same tools in a different capacity.

First off, it would be helpful to review what Quest's goals are in providing the software that they write. At a high level, Quest is a systems management company.  We do not have many of the platforms that people traditionally think of when they think of an enterprise software company; databases, web servers, operating systems, etc. For example, no one needs another database platform, at least not from us.  But organizations do need to get a better handle on their existing databases, database servers, and the systems that use them. And that's where we come in.

We focus on making your existing infrastructure easier to use. This is not to say all our tools are simple. Yes, we have "Simplicity At Work" as our tagline, but we do some pretty complicated things. And while the overall message does make sense to someone familiar with the problems we solve, these are not "Fisher Price" tools. The common misconception is because we have some products that have the word 'wizard,' that they are easy. No, what it means we make whatever the wizard works against easier to use.

Lastly, it would probably be good to give you an idea of who I am and what I do. I am currently the CTO for Quest's Federal Public Sector group. Which means I keep an eye on all things Federal, working with clients and partners to help them get the most out of Quest while also working internally to make sure our solutions align with my customers' needs. We have many other people with similar roles, however I don't have a single area of focus.  We have over 150 products, and anywhere from 3-8 different areas (depending on who you talk to). So I try and stay current with everything we have to offer.

And though I've worked with Public Sector clients since I arrived at Quest over 5 years ago, I've also worked for Quest in the UK as well as on the commercial side in North America. In those instances, my remit was Identity and Access Management as well as our overall Windows Management solutions. Before all that, and joining Quest, I was a developer, DBA, Director of IT, University instructor and a whole host of other things.

That's enough for now, and should give you a good enough idea of where this blog is headed over the next few weeks. If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to write me (dimikagi -at- federalcto.com) or post them up below.

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Copyright (C) 2010-2011 Dmitry Kagansky – All opinions expressed are those of the respective author and do not reflect the views of any affiliate, partner, employer or associate.