In an ideal world, you’d locate your data centre wherever it was the cheapest to operate, and choose whether to build a new one, refurbish an existing site or move to an external host based solely on cost calculations. Reality is messier. Here are 10 key factors outside of basic expenses that can drive your data centre decisions.
Data centre picture from Shutterstock
This list comes from a presentation by Robert Bunger, director of data centre solutions and science and Schneider Electric, which he gave at Data Center World in Las Vegas. (I’m attending that conference this week as part of Lifehacker’s ongoing World Of Servers coverage.)
If your data centre is beginning to max out, you typically have three choices: building a new one, refurbishing your existing site, or using a cloud or colocation facility. Schneider’s calculations suggest that for comparable sites, over a 10-year period you’ll pay $62 per watt for a colocation facility, $42 per watt if you build a new site, and between $17 and $27 per watt if you refurbish your existing site. That might seem counter-intuitive, the time frame is important here; if you’re looking at a shorter lifespan, then the calculations are likely to favour a cloud or colocation solution.
In reality, as Bunger pointed out, very few businesses get the option of considering all three choices equally, or even of making basic operational cost the sole consideration. Here are the ten factors that can influence that choice and steer people towards a particular approach.
- Corporate culture Resistance to changing approach can be strong and “server huggers” may win out.
- Colocation security concerns Willingness to sharing equipment on-site requires a strong level of security and a basic level of trust.
- Accessibility of data centre site A site that’s difficult for IT staff to access can be a deal breaker for some organisations.
- Contractual concerns Support options need to be well-defined.
- Lack of facilities expertise If you can’t find good data centre staff, external providers have a clear advantage.
- Regulatory concerns Legal issues with off-premises or offshore hosting are often overestimated, but remain a valid issue.
- Expected length of project For short-term deployments, cloud is almost always going to be the most sensible choice.
- Deployment timeframe Again, if rapid deployment is required, using a third party makes sense.
- Perceived size of capital investment Many businesses will balk at the up-front cost of a new data centre, even if the 10-year figures suggest a lower TCO.
- Cash flow model preferences Companies with a strong capex culture are more likely to build than use external providers, though this is an increasingly rare scenario.
Lifehacker’s World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I’m in Las Vegas for Data Center World, looking at how the role of the data centre is changing and evolving.