Editor's Note: Jeff Ely (above) is speaking at IT Martini 22: Infrastructure We Trust, taking place on June 21st, 2012 at The Freedom Center in Cincinnati. 

Jeff Ely: Server Sprawl Wrangler
By Terreece Clarke, June 20th, 2012

Riding into a data center near you just might be Jeff Ely, a Data Center Solution Architect at Netech and presenter at IT Martini 22: Infrastructure We Trust, presented by Peak 10. He's developed a talent for wrangling server sprawl, which just might transform a leading cost center into strategic asset.

The common problem of server sprawl -- the disproportionate amount of physical machines operating at very low rates of usage and wasting data center resources including power, cooling and space -- mostly affects companies that have been doing business as usual with their data center for the last 10 years. Those same companies are in shock when they realize addressing their network system and data center needs is a much larger project than anticipated.

“People are challenged by growth. It’s unmanageable. People learn they are out of power, cooling, and space,” Ely said. “After this investment and the return on investment cycle starts, it can become self-sustaining and continue to drive new innovation and value for the business.”

Network convergence solutions can be a big part of that innovation, accoring to Ely.

“We can use fiber channel over ethernet and combine that with virtualization technologies,” Ely said. “We can virtualize as many as 10 to 20 physical machines into a single physical server. We can reduce the amount of space, cooling and cable needed to run each service.”

Network Becomes the 'Cloud'

A key question Ely answers during his presentation at IT Martini 22 is, “How can people use converged infrastructures to move their data center forward?”

“I see IT responsiveness getting faster and faster when you converge the data and storage network and storage capacity,” Ely said.

With this movement to a single network, Ely believes the network becomes the data center -- a service based cloud with all resources integrated together. Given this movement, the implementation of 'IT as a service' will become increasingly common.

“Once IT as a service is implemented, business leaders quickly realize the value of IT and they become more willing to invest in new technology,” Ely said. “[Virtualization] is going to be more efficient and IT will be seen as a strategic partner by companies, rather than in some places where IT is viewed as just an expense... The IT professionals that can bring relevant technology to bear against real business concerns will prove themselves invaluable to their employers and the industry as a whole.”

Getting Hooked on IT

Throughout his career, Ely has worked as a systems administrator, user administrator, and with Novell eDirectory management. It was in 2000 when Ely moved into the network engineering side of IT. He’s worked as a network architect at Cardinal Health and Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he helped them design their new data center.

“I never really was interested in technology or the IT industry as a teenager or college student,” Ely said. “When I had to declare a major in college, I thought I would pursue marketing because I enjoyed working with people. As part of that major, I had to take a mandatory IT class. We learned the basics of IT, did some BASIC programming and PC hardware maintenance and I was hooked. I changed my major that quarter to Information Systems and as they say, ‘the rest is history.’ Follow your heart, and if it leads you into IT, hang on because there is never a dull moment.”

After graduation, Ely began his 20 year career in IT as a COBOL programmer at Victoria’s Secret Catalogue, a division of the Limited Brands.

“While there I became involved with Network and Server administration as well as user management. I left the mainframe behind in 1993 and havn’t looked back,” Ely said.