IT sprawl, also known as “server sprawl,” is a situation in which multiple, underutilized IT assets take up increasing space and consume more IT resources than they justify based on workload. The circumstance is a bit like someone opening a new carton of milk when there’s still some left in the old carton: eventually you have a refrigerator full of wasted product.
Which one is new? Will you ruin your coffee by using the spoiled one? Good management of assets prevents waste.
Some of the causes of IT sprawl include purchases of large numbers of low-end servers and dedication of servers to single applications. IT sprawl may be contained to a server room, or it may eventually spill out and spread across multiple facilities over vast geographical space. This is a particular problem when one company acquires another or when a merger marries one company’s IT sprawl to another company’s sprawl.
Tony Iams of D.H. Brown Associates in New York says that servers typically run at only 15 to 20% of capacity, which results in unnecessary costs, duplication of effort, and more complex IT asset management.
Disadvantages of IT Sprawl
IT sprawl can delay return on investment, engage IT service personnel on avoidable problems, and make disaster preparedness more complicated than it has to be. Over time, data center architecture becomes more siloed, costs more to maintain, and becomes poorly optimized. The solution to IT sprawl is taking a holistic view of IT resources for computing, storage, networking, power, cooling, etc., and working to enable resources to be allocated dynamically. Conquering IT sprawl allows IT resources to become optimized over time, and is much more efficient than just purchasing more servers when more applications are needed.
Cloud Migration as a Way to Address IT Sprawl
Many organizations are moving applications to the cloud, either right from the start or when a server dies and a cloud solution becomes more cost-effective. Some processes may need to be run on-site, and these servers will still have to be maintained, but shifting business applications to the cloud is one of the main ways organizations address IT sprawl. The Kempinski Hotels group in Europe, for example, is in the process of shifting all applications to the cloud. Jeremy Ward, senior VP for IT told ZDnet, “We’ve still got servers sitting here at the moment, but obviously the aim is to get rid of them.” Furthermore, “The utopia we’d like to get to is essentially to have nothing in the corporate office,” said Ward.
ITSM Software and Sprawl
Great IT service management software addresses IT sprawl in multiple ways. For one, if you choose ITSM software that is cloud-based, you eliminate the need for an on-site server to run it. For another, when your ITSM software has powerful IT asset management features, you improve asset utilization and prevent unnecessary purchases by utilizing existing resources more effectively. And it doesn’t just apply to servers. With great IT asset management software, you can identify an existing, unused laptop and assign it to the new intern rather than purchasing another laptop you don’t really need. Time, effort, and resources are all saved. The same goes for software licenses. When you can track licenses instantly, you can assign an unused license rather than buying another one.
Your ITSM software can help your organization manage and reduce IT sprawl. Samanage provides outstanding IT service management software that lets you run your IT service desk from the cloud and track assets instantly. You reduce the need for on-site servers, and make the most of your existing IT assets, saving money, preventing duplication of effort, and making IT service provision more cost-effective and efficient.