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Architecting for Converged Infrastructure

One of the goals of architecting the enterprise is to create a stable and predictable environment.  In this vision, IT provides consistent services to the business, ensuring availability and capacity but otherwise minimizing change.   Perhaps surprisingly, this stability is also one of the catalysts for IT sprawl.


IT sprawl is a circumstance where IT resources grow over time while inefficiency remains undetected and unmeasured by IT or the business. 


It’s like when we buy a new house for our growing family and add features to it.  Over time, we may find that some of those growth investments don’t make sense anymore; those extra bedrooms could be repurposed for an office and the swimming pool and yard maintenance chores keep us from the activities we really want to do. Our heating/cooling/electric usage is increased to support unused area or equipment.  Maybe it’s time to downsize or come up with better use of the existing space. Maybe it’s time to rent instead of own. Sprawl happens slowly. We may not realize we are affected until it happens and we stop to look at our current situation. 


Similarly, IT sprawl creeps into the organization as a series of discrete application or service additions. A system here, a system there, each deployed to a specific purpose and business need. Sometimes we add similar systems for different business silos. Over time the systems sprawl by capacity increases, poor fit to purpose, and poor focus on the goals of the business (usually related to lower cost, reliability, and speed to provision).


Commonly, IT sprawl happens through IT efficiency improvements.  Think of this example: In the year 2000, an application may have been installed and is totally consuming a single Windows 2000 server running on a single 300 mhz CPU and 1 GB of memory. If that same application is running this year, it will have updated to something like an HP DL370 with a 3.46Ghz 6 core processor and 12Gb of memory on Windows 7 for a refreshed system. The business is pleased with the service level. The CPU utilization is <5% with little paging; after all, the application “screams”.  But what are the tradeoffs for this sprawl?  We see under utilization and over-provisioning for starters.


A contemporary 4U rack mounted server is essentially the same size as was provisioned 10 years ago, unless blades are used instead. The growth in CPU speed and capacity yields much improved performance for the same or less cost as ten years ago, but with increased power and heat load. In short, we get much more bang for the buck than we did 10 years ago when the system was originally set up. Multiply this scenario by hundreds of replacement servers and you have IT sprawl.


Fixing sprawl addresses the virtualization of servers, storage convergence, security & management convergence and network conver.... Extend this further to cloud convergence and the cost per IT service can be even lower. All of this should be regularly considered in the Enterprise Architecture practice while measuring and analyzing the cost and performance of the IT services to the business. 


Converged Infrastructure and converged infrastructure services are just two aspects of enterprise architecture strategy. It is tied to business architecture, application architecture, and infrastructure architecture through governance, requirements and vision. HP Strategic IT Advisory Services (SITAS) is prepared to assist you with convergence as a part of enterprise architecture planning.

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About the Author
Ken Larson has over 30 years of experience in Information Technology aligning business to technology. As an Enterprise Architect, he has del...

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