What IT pros like best about next-generation technology

Flexibility, costs savings and eco-friendly operations make the list

Do hundreds of gallons of used vegetable oil belong anywhere near a data center, let alone inside? Phil Nail thinks so.


Game-changing IT technologies -- and how they affect the everyday worker

Nail is CTO of AISO.Net, whose data center gets 100 percent of its electricity from solar energy. Now he's considering waste vegetable oil as an alternative to using diesel fuel in the Web hosting company's setup for storing solar-generated power.

"We're never opposed to trying something new," says Nail, who last year eliminated nearly 100 underutilized stand-alone servers in favor of four IBM System x3650 servers, partitioned into dozens of virtual machines using VMware software.

Server virtualization fits right into AISO.Net's environmentally friendly credo. The company increased its average server-utilization level by 50 percent while achieving a 60 percent reduction in power and cooling costs through its consolidation project.

For Nail, virtualization technology lives up to the hype. Nevertheless, it isn't always easy for IT executives to find the right technology to help a business stay nimble, cut costs or streamline operations. Read on to learn how Nail and three other IT professionals made big changes in their data centers, and what they like best about their new deployments.

No more vendor lock-in

Vendor lock-in is a common plight for IT storage buyers. Lifestyle Family Fitness, however, found a way out of the shackles. The 56-club fitness chain set out to resolve a performance bottleneck it traced to its storage network, and wound up upgrading its data center infrastructure in a way that not only took care of the problem but also extended the life of its older storage arrays.

Lifestyle's users were starting to notice that certain core applications, such as membership and employee records, were sluggish. IT staff confirmed the problem by looking at such metrics as the average disk-queue length (which counts how many I/O operations are waiting for the hard disk to become available), recalls Michael Geis, director of IS operations for the chain. "Anything over two is considered a bottleneck, meaning your disks are too slow. We were seeing them into the 60, 80 and 100 range during peak times," he says.

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