Chris Wolf, a senior analyst at Burton Group says other vendors would have "a lot of catching up to do" to match CiRBA's granular capabilities in the planning space. "With other tools, you have to manually account for any non-technical issues, and that can be extremely difficult. CiRBA eliminates a lot of the hard work," Wolf says.
Brad Day, a principle analyst at Forrester Research compares CiRBA's niche in virtual optimization to VMware's commanding position six or seven years ago in virtualization technology. The main alternative to CiRBA's envelope-pushing tool is bringing in consultants to put together Excel spreadsheets, do a presentation and leave, he says.
"The worst thing would be if some big services company bought" CiRBA, Day says.
Customers often opt to participate in CiRBA's 30-day QuickStart Program, where they analyze a subset of their servers to learn how to set up the tool and gain a tangible sense of the potential return on investment they can expect.
When UL enlisted CiRBA for its trial evaluation nearly two years ago, Walker confirmed the ugly picture he feared: far too many servers using less that 10 per cent of their processing power. What he didn't anticipate was how rapidly CiRBA's tool would help with analysis and planning, he says.
Server utilization soared to well over 40 per cent, while the server count dropped by 30 per cent within the first year. Even though Walker still fields the same number of server requests, and the instances of server operating systems grew by 23 per cent, the steady stream of hardware purchases ground to a halt.
"We've gotten there a lot faster than we thought we would, and CiRBA is one of the major reasons," says Walker. "I am shoving servers old servers out the door by the truckload. I don't have any storage space any longer for spare servers."
The next phase of UL's consolidation effort seeks to reduce operating system instances by blending similar workloads. Five Web servers might be condensed to one, Walker says.
"Our confidence is getting higher now that we know how to manipulate the tool to get what we want," Walker says. He notes that one especially helpful feature is CiRBA's ability to assess "what if" scenarios, such as, 'What if I have to reduce count of servers by 10 per cent in three months? What can I do?' CiRBA helps you do it right the first time."