Many businesses are moving datacenters out of the house
The underlying concept of the information technology (IT) datacenter has been gradually but steadily evolving, particularly over the last decade and-a-half as IT hardware and software components have become considerably less expensive. Additionally, regulatory compliance – both at the industry and legislative levels – has increased the pressure on companies to rethink their IT infrastructure.
In a traditional company datacenter, a central server or bank of servers is maintained securely within the business walls, with all the networking, data storage, hardware and software likewise managed, maintained and upgraded entirely in-house by teams of IT staff members. It’s been a proven IT datacenter model for decades, and many companies continue to rely on it today. However, even as IT hardware and software has become less expensive, overall IT complexity has exploded. It’s not uncommon, for example, for a datacenter to be running several operating systems (OSs) at the same time – sometimes as partitions on a single server – as well as a multitude of devices and applications from competing IT organizations.
The upshot of all this complexity is a strain on the in-house IT staff, which can find itself stretched thin and unable to focus on its primary datacenter responsibilities. Companies are therefore opening up to the idea of outsourcing some or even all of their IT infrastructure operations. This can take the form of something as simple as a managed services provider taking on such tasks as backup, storage, security, etc., or it can mean something as all-encompassing as having a third-party build and maintain an entire datacenter facility completely off-site.
For some companies, outsourcing an entire datacenter sounds like jumping without a net, while others are beginning to recognize it as the potential way of the IT future. “In our most recent survey of 300 Enterprise level senior IT personnel, the number reporting that they planned to build their next data center themselves fell by 15 percent,” said Steve Flaig, formerly marketing director for San Francisco-based Digital Realty Trust, a third party wholesale datacenter facility provider.
These firms are recognizing that building their own facilities entails a great deal of cost and schedule risk. Building a data center in a do it yourself mode is a risky proposition. There are a number of nuances associated with the process that a typical IT organization may not be aware of. This includes everything from the permitting and licensing processes to the design and construction of the facility. For many companies, the potential for in-house datacenter build risk is tempered by the belief that an in-house IT infrastructure is inherently more secure, which makes sense when you consider the long-held traditional concept of what a datacenter is.
Not surprisingly, proponents of the outsource datacenter model say the security benefit is more of a security blanket, and whatever security benefit may be realized is offset by the time and IT resources required for a company to build or rebuild a datacenter in-house from the ground up.