Planning your next data centre

Virtualisation, increased equipment densities, cloud computing, all are conspiring to make life harder for any IT manager looking at where to go when it comes to the next data centre facility.  After a prolonged period of economic doldrums, many data centres are beginning to show their age.  Cooling systems are struggling; uninterruptable power supplies (UPSs) can only support a proportion of the IT equipment should the power fail; disaster recovery plans are no longer fit for purpose.  For many organisations it is time for an urgent review – something has to be done; but what?

Will it be possible to just move things around a bit in an existing facility?  Doubtful – power distribution and cooling systems will need to be completely changed to meet the requirements of today’s highly dense equipment.  How about a new build?  OK – but should this be planned for ongoing expansion, or should it be for further contraction as some functionality moves from existing infrastructure out to the public cloud?

A direction that more companies are taking is a move to a co-location facility.  These facilities are built and managed by an external company, but the IT equipment and how it runs remains your responsibility.  Space can generally be rented flexibly: it can grow or shrink as needed.  The facility owner has the responsibility for keeping all the peripheral systems up to date: power distribution; uninterruptable power supplies and auxiliary generating; cooling and connectivity provision to and from the data centre.

However, like most things out there, choosing a co-location provider is not just a case of going to a web listing and choosing the first name that sticks out.  There are a lot of cowboy operators out there along with ones who are offering good deals based on best efforts results.  Can your business afford to depend on such cowboys or promises?

Quocirca has seen some organisation go for co-location as a purely cost-saving exercise.  Like pretty much any activity where the aim is just cost-saving, it can end up costing an organisation heavily when things do not turn out as was hoped.  However, Quocirca does find that when a choice is made based on the right reasons – for example, that the chosen direction is something that the organisation could not do directly itself; or that the chosen supplier has expertise that would be difficult or even impossible for the organisation to source and maintain itself – then the end result is generally very cost effective.

The use of co-location should be a strategically-planned activity.  Due diligence is a necessity – yet for those where it is the first time of looking at such an approach, it is difficult to know what questions need to be asked and what responses should be required.

To help those who are interested in looking at co-location, Quocirca has developed a set of questions and reasons why these are important in conjunction with Datum Datacentres Ltd.  The paper is downloadable free of charge here:

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