The data center facility has emerged as a critical infrastructure for housing computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems, generally including backup power, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls and security devices. HVAC and fire protection systems become critical to system maintenance and recovery.
Any build-versus-outsource decision could be viewed through the prism of core competence-increasing performance and organizational delivery through a focus on its core value activities. Unfortunately, in the past, multiple extraneous factors muddied the perspective. The key difference is that when an activity is core and business critical, it will receive top-level attention and focus. An IT team’s time should be dedicated to the activities that provide a strategic advantage to the enterprise and allow resources to be focused only on those key areas. The decision to outsource a data center requires careful examination of options at a strategic level from a business vision perspective and a thorough tactical evaluation on an operating plane involving asset inventories, facility requirement estimations and budgetary considerations.
Outsourcing Versus Building a Data Center
|Outsourcing a data center||Building a data center|
|A predictable and operational expenditure model with costs that are easy to estimate and that increase at a consistent rate over the life of the data center||Complete control over operating environment, from who can access the facility to the temperature at which it runs|
|Additional capacity can be brought on quickly and only as needed, shielding you from having to build out extra capacity that might not be used for many years||Very low risk of losing your lease and being forced to leave the facility|
|Better access to space and power through the colocation provider’s purchasing power||Ability to use and share existing space, giving IT staff the ability to work in close proximity to the data center floor for a low cost|
|Data center is run by professionals with more experience and expertise in the practice of running an efficient and highly available data center facility|
|An ecosystem of partners in the same facility that can be used with extremely low latency via a cross-connect|
Advantages of Outsourcing Your Data Center
Many organizations—whether small, medium or large and across various industry verticals—have realized that outsourcing their data centers is the best way to align IT and business in the most cost-effective manner. Many important business benefits are associated with outsourcing: organizations can gain higher operational and financial efficiencies, enjoy proactive monitoring and management of their hosted IT infrastructure, and increase customer satisfaction, all while staying focused on their core business areas.
The benefits not only include protection of IT infrastructure from technology obsolescence, but they also allow maximum freedom and flexibility in daily IT operations, while simultaneously lowering financial and operational overheads. Benefits include:
- Align to changing business needs
- Compliance with corporate governance
- Cost advantage
- Custom solutions
- Scalable IT operations to meet growing business demand
- Access to latest technology
- Business continuity
- Accountability through SLAs
- Access to skilled expertise
- Energy-efficient data centers
- High availability and reliability
- Realize the true potential of IT—not just manage costs
What Is Being Outsourced?
Typical areas delegated to managed and outsourced datacenter providers include:
- Trouble ticketing and help desk
- End-user support and infrastructure operations
- Hardware maintenance and network operations
- Monitoring and management (server, systems and so on)
- Disaster recovery, storage management and backup (power, data)
- Full functionality and support of all elements within the data center
The TCO Advantage
Predicting and measuring total cost of ownership (TCO) for the physical infrastructure of network rooms and data centers is required for return-on-investment (ROI) analysis and other business decision processes. In addition, an understanding of the cost drivers of TCO provides insight into opportunities to control costs.
Organizations today will need to assess the benefits of a build or buy decision on the basis of the impact of IT enablement, business continuity, process excellence, privacy and compliance requirements—in line with board vision and cost compulsions. And as businesses look further afield at outsourcing or out-locating their data centers, they need to carefully evaluate the providers in various geographies. The spectrum of decision factors will range from management mandates to energy efficiency.
About the Author
Jayabalan Subramanian is the Chief Technology Officer and cofounder of Netmagic Solutions Pvt. Ltd. He is recognized in the industry as an expert on internetworking and has consulted with leading organizations including BAFL, BPL, Bharti, Worldtel, and Hathway Internet, among others.
Photo courtesy of Mark Hillary