Cheaper isn’t necessarily better.

This is a large part of what drives me nuts about customers.   (If they didn’t pay the bills, I’d be for letting them all drown in the sea of bad decisions they make)  The unwillingness to spend a little extra to do it right.

Let me give you an example.  I’m working now on a data-center consolidation.  Two datacenters in the New-York area that have been around since the 80’s are being consolidated into other datacenters further south. 

One is being closed, and the other is staying online, presumably long enough for them to realize that it’s also out of date.  About a dozen hosts are SAN attached. and are being moved.

Now here is the scary part – We’re talking about a collection of Sun E3500’s, I think the most powerful unit they have is an E5000.  All running Sybase and are still running Solaris 2.7.  The real kicker is that the hosts are using JNI SBus cards – these have not been supported in over 5 years (the company is long since a memory)  It was a real challenge even to FIND a batch of old Emulex LP9002-S cards to replace their JNI cards with.

The Symms we’re migrating off of are a collection of 4.0’s, 4.8’s, and a few 5.0’s – and they’re keeping most of the 4.0 and 4.8 symms and retiring the 5.0.s….    Huh?

So what would be the best idea?

If you said “Buy a pair of UE10K’s to go with the new DMX3’s and move all of the hosts into it” you’d be right. :)   The wonderful thing about VM based hosts, like the Sun Ultra Enterprise series and the AIX p-series, is the ability to consolidate multiple smaller, older hosts onto it.  You save a mint just in floor-space and power/cooling bills.  Not to mention the HBA’s you don’t have to buy.  Figure this company bought in the neighborhood of 30 Emulex LP9002’s, even conservatively priced out at $500/ea, that’s a chunk of change.  When one UE10K with 6 or 8 LP10000 HBA’s could have done the same work, and at 4gig no less.

They spent the money on a pair of DMX3’s, source and target, presumably because they had to (I dont think you can buy a Symm5 outside of Ebay anymore)  But they are actually going to spend the next three months MOVING antique hosts 1500 miles and hoping they survive the trip.  The good news is that I get overtime, and I’m averaging 60-70 hours a week right now trying to play into their little psychosis.

And where does it all end?   Quite simply they are going to find themselves upgrading the hardware anyway, probably after a catastrophic failure, so they just wasted a million dollars moving stuff they are going to throw in the trash in a year or two.


    • on October 28, 2007 at 2:52 am
    • Reply

    We’re having the same issue at my client. Both the company (outsourcee?) and the outsourcer are burning through money and are now trying all sourts of ways to save money. They are bringing in VMware and throwing it around with no real regard to logic. I think VMware is awesome, but throwing every server at it to reduce HW costs seems like overkill.
    The main thing that is killing me is that they are hot and heavy for Invista which just GA’d. As another friend put it, “Performance and storage virtualization don’t go together.” I’ve been trying and trying to tell them that Tier 1 servers (ERP, CRM, SAP, etc…) Business critical servers and high performance requirement apps can’t go on any type of virtualized storage.
    Has anyone had a successful implementation/operational experience with virtualized storage (IBM SVC or Invista)?

  1. Every level of complexity you add to an environment will slow it down. Whether it be Invista, or VMWare, or whatever else you can think of.

    Then again I thought it was the craziest thing when at my previous employer (who I now refer to as “The Great Satan”) I proposed VMWare for a lot of the DEV/Test servers I basically got laughed out of the building. When in fact in that environment it would have saved, quite literally, hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long-term..

    But no, never for production. Too many minor issues with clock skew and such to make it worth it.

    But for dev and test it would have rocked – if for nothing other than the ability to take a snapshot of a system before running a destructive test on it.

    Too many companies end up biting off their nose to spite their face. I am not a big proponent of wasting money, but the old addage “You get what you pay for” rings true.

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