Over the past decade, Dallas has become one of the most preeminent data center locations in the U.S. The more Americans use the Internet and consume data, the more Dallas benefits from that activity. Increasingly, companies set up their data centers there, taking advantage of the space and access to energy that the city and surrounding municipalities offer.
Dallas is a mecca for data centers
According to The Dallas Morning News, on Tuesday, Facebook started construction on its $1 billion, 750,000-square-foot data center in Fort Worth. It is expected to be on the largest data centers and investments for the state of Texas. North Texas has actively attracted data centers for years, and that effort continues to be rewarded. Data centers are often worth hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, housing high-tech equipment and valuable data for countless businesses and individuals. Fort Worth alone has at least 18 other data centers, with more in the pipeline. John Jacobs, executive vice president at Richardson Chamber of Commerce, explained that data centers are like gold mines for the state. As such, he frequently develops relationships with local businesses and real estate brokers that provide services for data centers.
"They are an absolute gold mine for cities," said Jacobs, according to the news source. "I think a lot of cities have caught on to this."
But Dallas and Fort Worth are not the only cities in Texas to benefit from the data center boom. Frisco and Plano are also capturing some of that market share.
Economic incentives for data centers
In 2011, Texas passed a measure that grants 10- and 15-year exemptions from sales tax and use tax for data centers that invest more than $200 million over a five-year period, noted The Dallas Morning News. Facebook will likely see $100 million in economic incentives as a result. Sally Bane, director of economic development for Plano, stated that it is the city's objective to attract data centers by offering attractive terms.
"They are something that we do encourage because they are high-value projects and add a significant amount of improvements to the tax rolls, and because of that, we find them a desirable project," said Bane, according to the news source. "We certainly make it known that we are an ideal environment for those projects."
Why Texas and data centers go together
Data centers are not a burden on municipalities because they do not create much disruption. They do not create high traffic, they don't emit air or noise pollution, but funnel a lot of money into the surrounding area. North Texas is also conducive for building data centers because there is ready access to fiber networks, the area has a low risk of natural disasters and the cost of land and utilities is cheap. Ultimately, energy is probably the most important consideration. Data centers require lots of energy and Texas is able to provide.
Because data centers need a consistent flow of energy, power outages pose a real risk. That is why it's so important that data center operators always have to make sure they have backups and functional disaster recovery sites as well.
"Having that unfailable backup is critical to their business," said Jacobs, according to the news source. "It could cost them millions of dollars a day to be down, to not be in communication with their customers."
Energy concerns in the future
Data center developers understand that energy efficiency will have to factor into their plans in the future. As of now, electricity is their largest overhead item. The Dallas Morning News pointed out that today, larger data centers tend to have better energy efficiency than older, smaller ones. Facebook's center, for example, will be powered entirely with wind power. The Star-Telegram reported that Facebook has partnered with Citigroup and Alterra Energy to build a 202 megawatt wind farm on 17,000 acres in Clay County, and while the company will not own the wind farm, it will buy power from it. The facility is expected to be Facebook's most efficient, with the latest in server and networking hardware.
Facebook spokesman Michael Kirkland explained that renewable energy will help the company lessen the data center's costs. He pointed out, however, that most users do not think about these things, and just want to log onto the platform and know their information is easily accessible. That is true for most people – we want to use data but often don't consider the massive investments and projects that make that data possible. Such is the nature of data centers.
"Most people don't ask questions about where their data's coming from," Metzger said. "They're just happy to be able to log on to Facebook or Yelp or check their email and not know necessarily how that information is getting to their phones or to their laptops."
At the end of the day, not all tech companies go to Dallas. Google, for example, is considering expanding its data center near the Columbia River Gorge town in Oregon with an additional 23 acres, noted The Oregonian. Google's total investment for this center exceeds $1.2 billion. Regardless, of where data centers are located, the basics will probably remain the same.
Cloud service providers have typically been one of the biggest clients of colocation facilities. However, due to the size and breadth of colocation companies, they will be taking some market share away from cloud providers in the coming years. Colocation companies have economies of scale and will be able to offer a wider range of services at less cost. Interestingly, one trend to surface recently is colocation providers "cloudifying" their operations. Increasingly, colocation providers will offer clients greater control of assets and infrastructure inside their facilities.
Cloudifying data centers for more flexibility
When determining whether to go with colocation and cloud services or building a data center in-house, capital expenditure is a top consideration. As such, many organizations in the past have opted to host all their information on external servers. Forbes pointed out that many organizations that allocated their resources to the cloud enjoy having the ability to add resources and capacity on-demand, often by simply making credit card payments online. Being able to increase server capacity or network speed instantaneously is a beneficial tool that allows companies to maintain greater control over their data management strategy.
Today, organizations that already have their data collections housed in colocation facilities are asking for more cloud-based automation for physical services. Enabling on-demand function to maintain control over IT systems is now referred to as "cloudifying" a data center, noted the news source. Data Center Knowledge mentioned that hybrid cloud adoption is growing and expected to triple by 2018.
Granting colocation tenants greater control
According to Vanson Borne, colocation will be the most popular outsourcing option in 2015 and 2016. Unlike cloud services, colocation grants access to many of the physical elements that make up a data center. Colocation tenants typically purchase and manage their own servers in a colocation facility and make adjustments to equipment when needed. Forbes pointed out that today, while colocation providers allow tenants to control equipment, they do not let them manage capacity. Michael Levy, CenturyLink Colocation Product Strategist, suggested that this is going to change. Colocation clients will be able to purchase more power, space, cooling and other physical services online, whenever they want. The management of outsourced space will be streamlined and made more convenient.
"What this is doing is taking the next-generation automation that cloud has brought to us – the ability to scale up and down using an online portal and applying it to the more physical services, which aren't going anywhere," said Levy, according to Forbes. "So, that's how you can fully cloudify."
Managing data center infrastructure with online tools
As part of the process to cloudify data centers, data center infrastructure management tools will be used, which will allow tenants to see how much power they use, for example, and increase usage dependent on need. In essence, tenants will be more involved in the physical management of their rented space – they will not be confined to their equipment and servers only. Levy explained that the goal is for customers to be able to manage and monitor all their infrastructure needs through sophisticated online platforms.
"The ability to move workloads … back and forth between colocation and cloud is ideal, and any portals that facilitate that process, that's cloudifying the data center," said Levy, according to the news source. "This is the customer-centric vision of where the industry wants to go."
The future of colocation and cloud
It will likely be a couple of years before the data center industry is ready to offer these types of services regularly, but the trend has already begun. Data Center Knowledge pointed out that companies are finding an increasing number of situations where public and private cloud environments are not conducive to their needs. Gartner predicted that big data will reinvent and eliminate 80 percent of business processes that date back more than 10 years. As such, with a growing need for data center services, and standard cloud options failing to satisfy that need, hybrid cloudified colocation will be the way forward. Colocation with cloud functionality offers companies the best of both worlds because it means they can control their own servers, physical infrastructure and still enjoy the cost benefits and freedom of not having to manage data in-house. IDC analyst Natalya Yezhkova explained how cloud offerings will continue to grow in the future.
"The breadth and width of cloud offerings only continue to grow, with an increasing universe of business and consumer-oriented solutions being born in the cloud and/or served better by the cloud," said Yezhkova, according to Data Center Knowledge. "This growing demand from the end user side and expansion of cloud-based offerings from service providers will continue to fuel growth in spending on the underlying IT infrastructure in the foreseeable future."
If you have arrived at that dubious point where you need to decide what your data center strategy ought to be going forward, there are a number of things you should consider. It is essential that you think about what it is you are trying to achieve and what the most feasible, cost-effective solution is for you. Fortunately, you have a number of options that you can choose from. This article is devoted to helping you decide whether colocation is right for you. Accordingly, here are 5 considerations for colocation:
1. Identify your needs and determine if you can manage on your own
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you need and what you can afford. If your main concern is housing your data in a reliable facility, whether for day-to-day access or for disaster recovery reasons, colocation makes sense. Organizations that opt to build their own center tend to have highly sensitive data that they would rather house internally. Additionally, building and maintaining an onsite or nearby data center takes a lot of money and time. You would need to invest in a physical space, hardware, software and trained IT staff. Colocation, on the other hand, offers you the convenience of immediate access to your data without the hassle of managing any of the physical assets. You still own your own servers – they are just located in a fully secure, air-conditioned and well-maintained facility. If you do not have a pressing need to manage data internally, or you can't afford it, go with colocation.
2. Research viable solutions and study your options
When comparing colocation providers, there are a couple of things to watch out for. Data Center Journal advised that you find a company whose main function is providing colocation. Some companies offer colocation as an auxiliary utility to IT and telecommunications services. While it may seem that multiple services with one provider is desirable, it is safer to focus on colocation providers that operate predominantly with data center infrastructure. That ensures that they are highly committed to giving you the best-outsourced data center experience. Furthermore, these focused organizations tend to attract the best service providers, giving you the fastest network speeds, best security and most competitive pricing available on the market.
3. Choose a provider that can give you what you need
If you choose colocation, it does not mean that you forego control over your own servers. Your colocation providers should show you how your equipment will be laid out. You can also ask about how certain assets are commissioned, tested and maintained. You can pose additional questions such as: Is there a lifecycle strategy in place? Do they have routine inspections? Is surveillance monitored 24 hours a day? It is important to remember that you are not just paying for a space to store servers, you are also paying for the work that goes into maintaining the facility. As such, you deserve to know how that facility is being managed.
4. Keep track of all your assets and resources
As with all outsourced services, it is still critical that you keep track of your assets. Your IT staff should regularly monitor your network speeds, as well as assess the health of your equipment. Things to keep track of include racks, cabling, power equipment, peripherals, servers and data center management software. You might think that you can outsource all your data needs to a colocation provider and wash your hands of the matter altogether, but that would be ill-advised. Most likely, if you choose a trusted provider, your assets will be safe and well-maintained, but a more prudent strategy involves routinely checking on your equipment. Remember that data is one of your most valuable resources and it should be treated as such.
5. Ask data stakeholders if the solution is serving them well
Once you choose a colocation provider, migrate your equipment to their facility and implement a reasonable schedule to monitor the health of your equipment, the next thing for you to do is talk with your staff members and get their feedback. Are they accessing data with ease? Are network speeds fast and reliable? Do they have any concerns with regard to retrieving valuable information? It is also a good idea to talk to your IT staff and get their views.
Ultimately, more enterprises will look to colocation in the future rather than invest in costly new data centers of their own. With the increasing number of applications, workloads and IT infrastructure, colocation will simply be the more logical and affordable option. EnterpriseTech pointed out that, as per a 451 Research survey, only 25 percent of companies plan to build a new data center this year. Conversely, 41 percent will seek colocation, cloud and other third party services. This means that opting for colocation is a good idea – just remember to manage your affairs intelligently and you are likely to be satisfied with the choice.
Data center colocation services are quickly growing to fill the needs of the market. The evolution of data centers started with the first computer and now seems to be rooted in consolidation. Companies increasingly outsource their data center needs to colocation providers, causing the market to be saturated with large, sophisticated multi-tenant facilities. Colocation providers offer companies immediate access to hardware, reliability and cost savings. Thanks to colocation, managing a data center doesn't have to be expensive and time-consuming. Data is essential, but the hassle of maintaining a site is quickly fading away.
Data center space is increasing rapidly
Wall Street Daily discussed the history of data centers, pointing out that with the introduction of the first computer in 1940 came the data center. Today data centers are, in essence, the same as they were: Large rooms with air conditioning to keep equipment cool and connections running. As the use of data has grown to become commonplace in business, so to have data centers evolved into necessary assets for most – if not all – major companies. These air-conditioned rooms are found everywhere, housing servers for the government agencies and keeping the financial information of countless businesses safe. The rise of Internet use around the world has only made these IT assets even more essential, as data is now at the core of many economic activities.
Due to the massive amounts of data that businesses deal with today, organizations are faced with two options: Hosting their own site or outsourcing their data center needs. However, many companies do not have the knowledge or time to manage their own centers. This is why outsourced colocation services are an increasingly attractive option. Wall Street Daily pointed out that even technology companies outsource data management today, including both hardware and software needs. Tech giants like Amazon, Google and IBM have their own massive data centers, of course, but many smaller players cannot afford to do this and opt for colocation. The result is that the number of data centers has grown considerably over the past few years, climbing to over 8 million in 2013. Interestingly, the trend seems to be that as the size of data centers that are built increases exponentially, their numbers will decline slowly. As more companies participate in the outsourcing trend, the world will see less data centers being built on a case-by-case basis and more colocation.
Colocation solves many problems
Forbes explained that managing a data center is expensive and time-consuming. This is why many companies prefer to turn the work over to third-party providers that offer colocation. An effective alternative to building and managing a data center, colocation allows companies to enjoy all the benefits of having their own data center, without the hassle of setting up and maintaining real estate and equipment. Colocation facilities use economies of scale to offer affordable data storage, by sharing power, cooling and floor space among their tenants. Tenants still retain full control over their equipment. The news source likened colocation to entrepreneurs sharing office space in a multi-tenant building. Because many companies recognize the value of colocation, it is increasingly being incorporated into companies' IT strategies and overall business plans.
According to 451 Research, by the end of 2017, the global colocation market will be worth $36 billion, an increase of 58 percent over 2015. Forbes indicated that the bulk of the expansion will take place in the Asia Pacific region, due to the need for additional data center space and a highly congested real estate market. Since many companies have already adopted hybrid IT strategies, combining both onsite and outsourced data centers, the trend will have no problem gaining momentum over the coming years. Philbert Shih, managing director of Structure Research, explained that colocation helps companies manage data while freeing up resources to focus on value-added activities, noted Forbes.
"You can imagine the waste when an organization builds a large data center for themselves, and it turns out they only need 50 percent after they've laid out significant capex to build it," said Shih, according to the news source. "Colocation allows organizations to turn capex expenditures into opex expenditures so they can spend resources more efficiently and predictably. It's like letting the experts work on the plumbing so that you can worry about what drives the business."
Wall Street Daily explained that data center operators are able to procure equipment at scale and offer organizations cost savings. Additionally, given that many companies are now reliant on the cloud, that is making the transition to colocation easier and more affordable. Colocation offers companies better access to hardware, speed, reliability and ubiquity of software. Its a win-win scenario for all.
If an organization views data as an essential and necessary asset, then it should have a disaster recovery plan. You never know when disaster will strike and losing all your client records or proprietary information can be devastating. Increasingly, companies look to colocation service providers as an affordable and efficient option for managing their own disaster recovery sites without the hassle of having to invest in new facilities, staff and equipment. If you need a good disaster recovery plan, read on to learn about the ways that a colocation facility may be the answer for you.
Insure your company against potential data loss
Data Center Knowledge pointed out there are several markets where data safety falls under strict regulations. In these industries – health care, banking and government – disaster recovery is often not an option, it is a necessity. Regardless of industry, disaster recovery data centers are just good business. Not having one could mean the end of any company in the face of a natural disaster or other unforeseen event. Some businesses can't go to colocation for their disaster recovery plan, due to the sensitive nature of information, but most companies will benefit from this solution.
If you are thinking about setting up your own disaster recovery site, you should seriously consider colocation services as an alternative to building your own data center. In a colocation facility, you can set up your own network, servers and storage much more quickly than if you were starting from scratch. However, not just any provider will do. You want to pick a colocation data center that isn't too far away from your headquarters and is clearly committed to providing a quality service.
Colocation is good for disaster recovery
The purpose of a colocation facility is to help you migrate and store your data safely without having to break the bank. By outsourcing your data needs, you can effectively lower your overheads and raise efficiency at your company. Colocation providers maintain special sites where multiple customers can store their servers and install their networks. Colocation is particularly useful for disaster recovery because it is based on the idea that the data is not in your primary location.
As previously mentioned, some companies may not want to forego complete control over their data and hardware when information is highly sensitive and confidential, but the vast majority of businesses will benefit from colocation. Because colocation means your data center is in a different location, you will have the safety knowing that, should anything happen, your primary site and backup data won't be affected by the same event. However, you will still maintain control over your hardware, software and communications remotely. You won't be involved in the management of power supply and cooling systems, but that is something colocation providers are more likely to be better at anyway.
Considerations when choosing a provider
You should pick a colocation provider that has a proven track record for safety and reliability. That means they have generators in the right places, facilities are clean and efficient, and video surveillance is monitored around the clock. Data Center Knowledge mentioned that you should make sure they are SAS 70-compliant and certified. If your colocation provider satisfies these requirements, you are well positioned to begin migrating your data.
It is important to remember, however, that proximity is a consideration. Colocation is a great option for disaster recovery because it isn't at your primary site, but you don't want to choose a facility that is too far either. Consider the time it would take to visit your colocation data center. A trip of a couple of hours is far enough away to ensure that a natural disaster in your region won't affect your data center, but more than that will be an inconvenience. You want to be able to visit your data center whenever there are potential issues you must attend to.
Colocation disaster recovery offers flexibility
ITBusiness Edge noted the flexibility that colocation offers is why it has become a popular option for disaster recovery. On its own, the disaster recovery market has grown in recent years, amounting to $1.4 billion. It is expected to hit $11.92 billion by 2020. In this trend, colocation services have been particularly attractive for small to midsize organizations that do not have the capital to maintain their own operations. Accordingly, cloud-based solutions that offer the same functionality over long distances continue to capture more data center market share.
If you need a disaster recovery contingency plan, consider colocation. You can give your enterprise a lot of flexibility when it comes to migrating, mirroring and maintaining data in a structured and secure environment. In the event of a natural disaster, you will rest assured that one of your most valuable assets – data – is protected.
When considering your data management needs, finding a colocation provider that is committed to sustainable practices is a good idea. Beyond altruism and environmental responsibility, sustainable colocation providers can help make your organization better.
The colocation data center market is growing bigger
Data Center Knowledge reported that, by 2017, the international colocation data center market is expected to reach $36 billion. A report from 451 Research indicated that the global footprint of data centers will grow by over 40 million square feet to total 150 square feet. Today, the colocation market generates approximately $22.8 billion a year. In only two years, colocation data centers' footprint will grow by 75 percent and revenue will increase by 63 percent.
The news source also pointed out that data center market growth is driven primarily by the cloud. 451 Research estimated that today, less than 50 percent of the world's total space that supports data center IT equipment is located in North America – 43 percent. Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific represent a significant amount as well. It is difficult to say what the implications of the footprints growing faster than revenues may be, but companies should do their part to make sure they are committed to sustainable growth. There are several strategies can companies can use to manage their data centers in more economical and environmentally safe ways.
Sustainable, energy efficient data centers are on the rise
According to IntelligentUtility, 60 to 70 percent of total operational costs for a data center are energy related. Data centers require large amounts of energy to power the computers, servers and network. Interestingly, data centers represent one of the biggest consumers of electricity in the world. However, many organizations today commit to powering their data centers intelligently, have zero waste policies, and do what they can to operate more efficiently and lessen their environmental impact. Not only does energy efficiency fit nicely with CSR initiatives of large corporations, but 59 percent of Fortune 100 companies have already set greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments. As such, data center efficiency is likely to be a priority for many top executives.
Data center colocation is one proven way that companies can use less energy, while still enjoying all the benefits of maintaining a fully functioning data center. Accordingly, here are three things to look for in a data center colocation provider:
1. Look for high computing density
Colocation providers that enable high-density computing are able to improve performance by reducing the amount of resources necessary for each square foot of space. Things like water, energy, maintenance and expenses can be kept to a minimum if each square foot of a data center hosts as much computing power as possible, while still adhering to safety standards and best practices. Ask your colocation provider if they use space efficiently and opt to outsource your data center needs to companies that understand high-density computing.
2. Ask for key performance indicators
One of the best ways to ensure that you are continually working toward your sustainability goals is to receive constant updates regarding operating efficiency and resource usage. Look for colocation providers that track key metrics over time and can provide that data to you through software online. By tracking the performance of your colocation provider and outsourced IT assets, you can find areas where efficiencies can be reduced and improvements made. The more flexible you can be regarding the management of your data center assets, the easier it will be to engage in continuous improvement activities.
3. Plan your data center management intelligently
Having a strategy, and establishing a footprint, allows you to manage your data center needs in a more effective manner. You might find that you can allocate your demand across multiple data centers, receive all the services you require, and still meet your sustainability goals. As previously mentioned, by tracking water, energy and overall resource management, you can ensure sustainability, regardless of where your data center is located.
Ultimately, outsourcing your data center needs is a good idea. Looking for energy smart data centers is even better. In 2015, responsibility is just as important as revenue. Management teams, shareholders, employees and customers want to see a commitment to sustainability. Given that efficiency operations are also good for the bottom line, there is no reason why your data center strategy should not be based on socially responsible principles.
No longer just an option for many companies, data centers are now considered to be essential parts of the corporate machine. Information drives many business decisions and processes today, and making sure that data is stored and secured is paramount. However, some organizations find that the cost of maintaining and upgrading their data center is an ongoing challenge and many companies have to balance the costs against what they actually need to have to continue operating successfully. When choosing between colocation, expanding a current data center or building a new one, it is not always an easy choice.
Consider the financial aspect
There are a number of financial considerations that go into deciding the best data strategy for your company. You should ask yourself what your immediate needs are. If your current infrastructure is not enough to support your operation, it will take time to implement any solution. However, colocation will take significantly less time than building a new facility. A new facility can take months to become fully operational, whereas a colocation provider can make several servers available much faster. The Data Center Journal explained how backend infrastructure factors into data center management.
Perhaps you think you need to have your own site, but will that be too costly? Will the implementation time affect your operations? Consider the return on investment and scope of any project before you commit serious capital.
What is your organizational need?
Some companies utilize data more intensively than others. In an industry where revenue is earned through managing large amounts of data, owning your data center assets may be more important than in industries where you just need to access your data and know it is secure. If your business is not primarily about managing data, then consider colocation as a faster and less costly option.
The solution also does not have to be cut and dry. Some companies prefer to use a combination of corporate-owned and colocation services to meet their data needs, noted Data Center Knowledge. Certain pools of data are highly sensitive, and must adhere to stringent regulations. Some of the data belonging to government agencies, banks, hospitals and health care companies may be too sensitive for colocation, but the vast majority of data does not fit this description. Accordingly, it would be a good idea to outsource some of your needs to a third party provider. If your business model allows for it, take advantage of what the market has to offer today. Colocation is safe, reliable and will not break the bank in the same way that building your own facility will. Don't buy space, servers and hire IT staff if you don't need to.
Do you have the physical space?
Data Center Knowledge explained that most companies looking to increase their data center capabilities consider expanding their current infrastructure, as it is less costly than investing in new facilities. However, a company must think about whether it has space to house new servers and staff to cater to the additional assets. Power consumption also can present a certain dilemma. Data centers require a lot of power and ensuring that there will be sufficient energy, as well as backup power in the case of an outage might be beyond a company's capability.
If your company can pay for the upgrade, operate efficiently, and accommodate for the changes, then expansion might be the correct solution. If you do not have enough physical space of if you don't believe you have the additional resources to cater to the increased IT demand, then colocation might be a better idea.
It is important to remember, that when talking about data centers, operational efficiency and time management are key. Whether you choose colocation or housing your own data center, make sure your business objectives and technology needs are in sync. Not doing so could end up costing you more than you expected.
Most businesses today need to have disaster recovery plans for their data. A few types of companies do not consider data their most valuable asset, but the vast majority store confidential client information, proprietary knowledge, financial account breakdowns and scores of other files that, if lost, would be devastating for them. Earthquakes, floods and power outages present a looming threat to your data. Having an effective disaster recovery plan is essential – but it does not have to break the bank. Cloud technology offers you a more affordable option in the short term. Maintaining your own secondary data storage site has its advantages, but requires much more upfront capital investment. You should thoroughly assess your needs, but remember: Having no disaster recovery plan is the worst and most expensive plan of all.
Safeguard your data because you never know…
It's not always easy to know when disaster will strike. That's why small business owners embrace private cloud-based disaster recovery solutions, because they can rest assured that they will be able to access their data and work remotely in the event of a sudden disruption to their systems. Artur Matzka, director of infrastructure development at Integrated Solutions, told ComputerWeekly what a brief interruption of a technology network can do to a business.
"The cost of data loss or lack of access to information can be dangerous, and not only in financial terms. For companies operating in a really competitive market, even 10 days without access to key data could cause an outflow of customers and the death of the business," Matzka said.
Disaster recovery doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive
Forbes explained that in the beginning, disaster recovery solutions were inaccessible to small- and medium-sized enterprises because the costs of setting up a secondary data center was too expensive. The process involved finding a backup location far enough away from the initial site, investing in hardware and ensuring that all the main data was backed up. Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT explained that, in the beginning, secondary storage was simply too costly for midsize enterprises.
"For many years, that separation was a leading cause in disaster recovery costs being so high, especially if synchronous replication was required," said King, according to Forbes.
SearchDisasterRecovery noted that many companies maintaining secondary sites, often have facilities that are not suitable to their needs. Those assets may require more IT staffing, better equipment and extensive upgrades to network, storage and server infrastructures.
However, now with private cloud-based solutions, disaster recovery is a viable option for many companies – not just large enterprises. The cloud enables small business to ensure the same degree of functionality, while keeping capital investments in check. Using the cloud, companies can back up their customer records and other vital data, should the worst happen.
"By engaging a cloud service provider, companies can avoid the substantial costs of building, outfitting, managing and maintaining data centers, including employing information technology staff," King added. "As business-computing usage continues to grow and IT becomes increasingly complex, cloud and other hosted services look more and more attractive."
The cloud turns capital expense into operating expense
Before the cloud, setting up a secondary data storage facility meant a company had to invest in a place, new hardware and hire highly skilled IT professionals to administer the site. Now, companies can simply outsource their data storage needs to private cloud and colocation providers – achieving the same ends for a fraction of the price. It is important to point out that the cost of rebuilding data, should disaster strike, is significantly more than the cost of backing up information with a cloud provider.
"Rebuilding transactions and files if disaster recovery fails is hugely expensive and time consuming," King said. "But over time, replication solutions have generally become cheaper, faster and more dependable to the point that a number of cloud-computing players can now offer various disaster recovery solutions."
Ultimately, some companies will choose to maintain their own secondary sites over cloud-based solutions because, if they can afford it, there are certain benefits. However, colocation services let organizations get the best of both worlds – off-site backup and cloud technology. Colocation providers can host private clouds in their facility, letting customers lease the data center space instead of paying to build a dedicated facility.
There are many reasons why companies choose to outsource their data center needs to colocation providers. The task of setting up and managing a data center can be very costly and complicated. Housing IT equipment and data at a third party colocation provider, on the other hand, can save companies considerable money and allow them to spend their time on other value-added activities. Interestingly, an added benefit of working with a colocation provider is it is more environmentally sustainable.
This article explores 6 reasons why you should consider data center colocation for your business.
1. You will free up resources and staff
Data Center Knowledge explained that colocation can allow you to focus on your core business. Your IT team will not have to spend their days dealing with the ins and outs of managing a data center because the colocation provider will take care of all the details. Unlike most organizations, colocation providers have teams that are available around the clock to reboot servers, manage disaster recovery plans, assess power needs and continually run diagnostics on the network. By outsourcing your data needs, you will spend less time worrying about the hardware, and more time devoted to the platforms on which you do your work – the operating systems, applications and databases themselves.
2. You will lessen overhead costs
According to SearchDataCenter, colocation is appealing for finance directors because it allows them to realize instant cost savings, while still utilizing state-of-the-art infrastructure. Instead of investing heavily in equipment, a company can outsource its data needs and immediately gain access to shared uninterruptible power supplies, auxiliary generators, cooling systems and physical security. Colocation facility owners will be responsible for maintaining these assets and you will only pay for them through standard billing. Additionally, another hidden value in data center colocation is the sharing of resources. May providers manage multiple accounts and, as such, may be able to offer other services at a discount. Data Center Knowledge mentioned that, with respect to power supply alone, outsourced solutions clearly win out over in-house options. Sophisticated dual generators, air conditioning and battery backups are just icing on the cake.
3. You will gain better connectivity
Colocation almost always ensures that a business is connected globally and securely, noted Data Center Knowledge. Alternatively, in-house data center server rooms often don't have access to a strong Internet connection, nor do companies have the resources to specifically dedicate IT staff to monitoring network speed and traffic. If you choose to work with a colocation provider, you will likely benefit from a faster and more resilient network offered to you at competitive pricing. In your office, delivering 100 Mbps of bandwidth may prove costly, but with a provider you will have better service at a premium.
4. You will be more sustainable
SearchDataCenter pointed out that by outsourcing your data center needs, you will effectively shrink the environmental footprint of your facility. Working with a colocation provider, you will not have to invest heavily in servers, cooling systems, power supplies, generators and other utility-intensive technologies. Additionally, most colocation facility owners design their infrastructure intelligently. Owners will plan their building based on anticipated occupancy. For example, if the owner anticipates 20 percent occupancy, the internal resources will reflect that need. When occupancy increases, the owner will accordingly raise his data center capability to match the demand. This approach is not only cost-effective, but reflects a more sustainable way of doing business, where resources are only used as they are needed. Only when newer data center technologies are unveiled, or additional geographies must be covered, do owners build new facilities. According to Data Center Knowledge, companies that move their to colocation facilities typically save 90 percent on their own carbon emissions. Many data centers invest in green technologies, because they have the incentive, time and money to do so as well. Peter Gross, vice president at Bloom Energy commented on the green nature of colocation.
"Companies are increasingly turning to data center colocation services to interconnect with other businesses and they want to do this in an environmentally responsible way," said Gross, according to Data Center Knowledge.
5. You will know that your data is secure
One of the best ways to establish trust is to share risk. With that in mind, you can trust a reputable colocation provider to protect your assets because they are stored in the same facility as theirs. In other words, your servers and their servers share the same walls. Colocation providers have added incentive to protect your data center hardware because they use the same infrastructure to safeguard their own. SearchDataCenter mentioned colocation providers rely on having multiple customers in their facilities. If they don't, their business model is not that strong.
Colocation is not for everyone, but for companies that simply cannot allocate all the necessary resources, outsourcing data center needs is a good idea.
Increasingly, companies use data centers because of the numerous benefits they offer. In addition to allowing for safe and effective storage for massive amounts of data, these beacons of operational efficiency also speed up application deployment time and facilitate access to important information, regardless of user or center location. Due to the prevalence of data centers today, small sub-sectors have sprung up to cater their creation and maintenance.
Many companies choose to protect their information with data centers today because not doing so could result in a loss of valuable assets and, resultantly, lost customers and diminished revenue. With cloud technology, many of the initial concerns about setting up data centers have been addressed because installation costs and lack of skilled staff are no longer entirely necessary. All that is needed for a highly scalable solution in 2015 is an Internet connection and the foresight to seek a colocation provider.
Considerations for companies that outsource their data management
Data Center Knowledge provided companies that outsource their information storage to cloud providers with suggestions on how to make the experience as problem-free as possible. The idea behind the advice was to inform companies that even though they are relying on a third-party provider for their data storage, they still need to act like stakeholders in the project – outsourced does not mean forgotten.
It is important to point out that there are, however, some serious limitations to protecting data in the cloud. Companies still need to manage their files carefully. A cloud provider may not turn out to be too helpful if a company cannot store or backup its files responsibly. Just like renting an apartment, the landlord cannot be held accountable for how the apartment is cleaned or used on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, not all cloud providers are the same. Public clouds are multi-tenant, so if another data user experiences a security breach, all the other data could be at risk of contamination as well. Companies that know certain files or folders are highly sensitive should take precautions to ensure they have backups. They should also stay aware of the fact that not all cloud providers are reputable. When it comes to bargain hunting, data storage is one area where penny-pinching can seriously backfire.
While it is obvious, it should be said that the cloud is dependent on Internet connectivity. Companies that cannot ensure a reliable connection at the office or for remote workers should take measures to guarantee access to needed documents at all times. An ISP outage is not a good reason to take a day off.
Companies that want to take measures to protect their most valuable assets should pay attention to these three areas:
1. Keep track of storage devices.
Hard drives and other storage devices should be handled with care. Because these devices are portable, they are prone to contamination and can end up affecting larger pools of data. They are not to be used as long-term storage options.
2. Schedule data protection efforts.
Data protection requires a set plan, detailed processes and accountability. The plan should include a schedule of backups, and identify who is responsible for managing storage assets. If data is lost, it is important to know who to speak with.
3. Avoid duplicate effort.
Because businesses are likely to be pulling data from many different locations like social media, email, mobile and shared drives, it is important to make sure that information is stored in one centralized management location. This will help eliminate redundancy and duplication. It is also much easier for staff to access data from one central reservoir of information.
Growth in the data center industry is evident
Ultimately, the rise in the number of data centers is made evident by the sub-sectors that cater to this industry. WhatTech pointed out that the cooling process is responsible for approximately 40 percent of the electricity required for a data center. Cooling solutions are used to reduce heat in data centers and use air, water and liquid cooling systems to achieve this end. According to a Research Beam report, the global data center cooling market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.30 percent from 2014 to 2019. Similarly, the data center construction sector is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent per year, reported Facility Executive. The growing need for Cloud services has resulted in a surge in this market, covering things like design and architecture, as well as the installation of electrical and mechanical systems.
Data Center Knowledge noted that cloud infrastructure spending is expected to reach $32 billion this year. Not only are data centers the new way to manage important information, but they are actually where growth in the computer chip industry is occurring. This is why Intel is acquiring server maker Altera for $16.7 billion.