Digitalization Forcing Data Centers to Evolve
The importance of the data center in our everyday life has never been greater. We now live in a global culture that expects on-demand, high-quality and real-time access to content via a multitude of applications across a wide range of devices. Previously, a business could meet user requirements with a few servers in the back office; in today’s digital economy, businesses need a sophisticated infrastructure that can provide the scalability, redundancy and security needed to meet their customers’ demands. This situation has led to a surge in data center upgrades and deployments worldwide—TechNavio forecasts the Global Data Center Construction market to grow at a CAGR of about 11 percent over the next five years. Rather than incur the cost and expense of managing their own data centers, many enterprises are turning to data center service providers.
Retail+ Is Born
Forsythe Data Centers, a business entity of Forsythe Technology, founded in 1971, is one of the largest independent IT integrators in North America, serving approximately 1,000 customers in the U.S. and Canada. The company saw an opening in the market to provide customers more choice, control and convenience beyond the standard retail offerings available, but without the unnecessary footprint of a wholesale offering. In June 2015, it launched the Retail+ data center, an offering that combines the flexibility and agility of popular retail data center services in terms of size and shorter contract length, with the privacy, control and density of large-scale, wholesale data centers. The other “plus” in Forsythe’s Retail+ model is a full range of IT infrastructure services—from managed hosting and managed services to technology proofs-of-concept to data migration, security and much more.
An Adaptable Facility to Meet Clients’ Evolving Needs
To power the service, Forsythe built a 221,000-square-foot facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, with 30 megawatts of critical IT load. The data center has the distinction of being one of only two in the state to achieve the Uptime Institute Tier III Certification for Constructed Facility, recognizing Forsythe’s redundancy and maintainability in its facility. Available suites range in size from 300 to 4,000 square feet, with 200 to 300 watts per square foot of power density, making it appealing to smaller companies and Fortune 100s. Each suite has a dedicated power infrastructure with 2N of uninterrupted power supply and dedicated cooling infrastructure with N+1 precision air conditioning. By enabling customers to expand compute capacity vertically rather than horizontally with fewer cabinets, it provides 700 percent greater rack space utilization, with four times the processing performance.
An All-Encompassing Network
Forsythe wanted to create a data center that would enable businesses to plan, build and run their IT environments in one location. To entice prospects, it needed to build a solution that provided state-of-the-art data center services with carrier-grade, reliable connectivity, superior data center interconnect (DCI), and enhanced security for in-flight and at-rest data. The company laid the groundwork with a large investment in dark fiber to provide its customers with robust connectivity to its data center. A diverse, flexible and powerful network connection would ensure customers have as many options as possible for connectivity inside and outside the data center.
The company partnered with Ciena, a network specialist, to construct a private, secure and carrier-grade network from its Retail+ facility in Elk Grove to 350 East Cermak in Chicago, an important regional exchange point. Ciena’s platform provides high-bandwidth, low-latency 100G connectivity to support applications such as cloud computing, storage networking and big data for businesses. Also, the robust, carrier-grade network makes adding new customers easy. The network can move these customers from their own outdated data center or from another provider by quickly turning up connectivity and shortening provisioning times.
For many industries, security is of major concern. Forsythe had to fulfill necessary requirements to have a network infrastructure that enterprises could trust with sensitive information. It implemented Ciena’s FIPS-certified comprehensive protection solution with robust in-flight encryption. Because businesses are using virtualization and cloud-based applications more than ever, Ciena’s encryption technology provides essential security inside and outside the walls of Retail+ to limit access to authorized users.
A One-Stop Shop
For many companies, running a data center is not a core area of expertise. When leasing or colocating space, businesses can leave the day-to-day operations of running data center to experts, and instead focus on important IT initiatives. Retail+ enables customers to choose from a variety of IT integration services, such as data migration, business continuity and disaster recovery, managed services, managed hosting and more, without giving up choice and control. Individual client-controllable infrastructure, cooling, power, physical security and operations give client their own “data center within a data center.”
Growing With Business
Business owners expect productivity to increase over time. As data center needs change, Retail+ can scale with along with it. The Retail+ model lets clients maximize compute capacity and minimize floor space, reducing overall footprint requirements. Capital and operating expenses are greatly reduced, providing potential millions in savings over the long term. To be able to run a twenty-first-century business, it’s imperative to have a twenty-first-century data center that will grow along with it.
About the Author
Duncan Puller is Vice President of Data Center and Cloud for Ciena.