There are many things that contribute to the cleanliness of your business’s IT system – and you may be surprised to know that this cleanliness directly affects the amount of money you spend on maintaining these systems – as well as efficiency, productivity, and security.
While a variety of topics are related to this, there are key elements you can focus on that make a noticeable difference: virtualization, Active Directory, and hardware.
While there are many things that go into a full-blown cleanup of your VMs, specific areas to focus on include snapshots and VM sprawl.
Snapshots are very quick point images of a virtual machine on a datastore, allowing rollbacks to that point in time. VM sprawl happens when an administrator can no longer properly supervise and manage all of the virtual machines on a network. Both of these things take up time, space (virtually and physically), potentially even licensing, and, therefore, money.
Snapshots should not be kept for any longer than your next backup run. Since snapshots are used for rollbacks, they are no longer needed after completing a backup run. Doing this each time will help you to stay on top of these snapshots before they begin piling up in an extreme volume, and will prevent a massive headache.
You should create a policy for administrators when it comes to cleaning up old and un-needed snapshots. Continually re-evaluate this policy as the needs of your virtual machine change and evolve over time – just like your business.
Perform an audit of your VMs to assess for VM sprawl. This will allow you to see which VMs are linked to a hypervisor cluster or a specific host. The goal of this audit is to ensure that your VMs are assigned to a hypervisor host or cluster. You should also establish processes and policies for the IT team. Having these standards in place will make managing VMs and reducing sprawl much easier. The more unneeded VMs you have, the more time, space, energy, and money you will spend.
More information regarding these guidelines can be found here.
Active Directory Cleanup
The key reason for having a clean Active Directory is that it’s a single location where administrators can manage and safeguard network resources. It, along with all the machines on the network, implements the security regulations while upgrading and installing software. It also allows you to control your entire network in a secure manner.
If your Active Directory server is hosted in the cloud, decluttering can help you save money on storage – while improving efficiency can help you save money on your monthly expenses by lowering bandwidth and computing resource expenses. More clutter = more space = more storage = more money.
Another key reason why cleaning your Active Directory is important is because it maintains security. Former employees and external attackers could utilize stale user accounts to attack the company, posing a severe security risk. After stale accounts have been found, it is recommended that they be disabled for a few weeks before being deleted if no issues have been reported.
Do the following to begin cleaning your AD. For more detail into these, you can look here.
- Identify accounts that need disabling/deleting
- Disable unused administrative accounts
- Clean up user groups
- Automate Active Directory cleaning
The worry about aging hardware seems to be fading away thanks to virtualization’s resiliency. As a result, it’s not uncommon to walk into server rooms and see server gear that’s four to six years old, with no plans to replace it in the near future.
This can have a negative impact on performance, reliability, licensing, cost, and security. More detail into each of these can be found here.
Performance: This can include old hardware being used when/where it shouldn’t. From a virtualization standpoint, over the years as more and more VMs are created, the environment could be running twice the number of VMs that it was made to run. This can gradually impair performance to the point where people become accustomed to it and don’t notice as it slows down.
Regularly assessing the environment offers for a technique of keeping an eye on “server sprawl” and either cleaning up servers to keep things moving forward quickly or adding hardware as needed.
Licensing: Many products, including VMware and Veeam, as well as monitoring software, include CPU-based licensing. That licensing can be very expensive in the long run; moving from eight to four hosts can cut that licensing in half, saving $12-$15,000 per year in VMware licensing alone, before even considering the other software.
It’s always necessary to strike a balance between the number of hosts (and failure domains) and what you can technically perform. You don’t want to put all of your proverbial eggs in one basket, but consolidating can save you a great deal of money.
Reliability: Hardware suffers from old age, kind of like people. Bearings on moving parts tend to wear out as it grows older due to years of these machines running. The heat can take an effect on electronics, and small manufacturing flaws start to accumulate.
It’s important to evaluate your hardware age and your utilization, and then make any necessary changes. Updating your equipment helps to ensure that your IT platform is not out of warranty, and it will save you money when hardware components fail and need to be replaced or repaired. Additionally, it boosts employee morale and helps you provide better service to your consumers.
Security: To put it simply, outdated hardware equals outdated security. Older harder is not able to run new software, which means that you can’t take advantage of the latest security features, updates, and patches. This, of course, puts your business at a higher risk of an attack. Out-of-date software is unable to withstand a current cyber-attack. As a result, if your outdated software uses, stores, or applies data, that data is at danger.
Another aspect relating to your hardware and costs savings include server room tidiness. Dust, temperature, and other impurities – along with overall organization – in the server room can pose a serious hazard to your equipment and, therefore, wallet. Keeping your server room clean and tidy allows for the following:
Longer Lasting Equipment: The accumulation of dust and other particles is extremely rapid. This can easily cause the servers in the server room to overheat, resulting in costly repairs.
The cooling efficiency of your server room’s air conditioning will be maximized if the air filters are changed frequently, which also helps to prevent dust from building up as quickly. Maintaining a clean and dust-free server room extends the life and effectiveness of your equipment.
Control Over Wires/Cords: Untidy server rooms have wires and cables strewn about, giving the impression, and possible reality, of disorganization. If your server goes down, you’ll want to get it back up and running as soon as possible so that business may resume. However, with an untidy server room this can be a much bigger hassle than it has to be.
By keeping your server room clean, the cords and wires will be organized and out of the way. For example, cables and cords can be labeled on both ends. This will make determining which cords correspond to which servers a breeze. When the cords and wires are in order, tracking them becomes a breeze.
Prevent Fire Hazards: When technology and equipment are operated over an extended period of time, they can become extremely hot. Server room fires are prevalent, and they invariably result in costly losses such as extended downtime, equipment loss, and data loss.
When the equipment is put together, it generates a lot of heat, which, when combined with other factors like dust, stacked equipment, and human mistake, can easily lead to short circuits and overheating. By doing some simple cleaning, you can avoid some major risks and save a lot of money.
As mentioned earlier, this is not an all-inclusive list of things that go into having a tidy, clean IT environment. However, starting with these topics will get you headed in the right direction toward better productivity, efficiency, and therefore, saving you money. If you’re interested in the full list, look below.