How Colocation Can Help Enterprises Transform Their Data Center Operations
The role of IT is becoming more important than ever.
IT leaders must go beyond
simply managing the data center infrastructure—they must
provide a strategy to drive business value. “Megatrends” such as
cloud computing, mobility, social media, big data and virtualization
are defining a new era of information technology—and forcing
a transformation of how IT supports the business. Much of this
transformation is taking place within the data center, where
companies are finding that they need to modernize their infrastructure
to gain greater flexibility and agility.
Recent research supports how important technology and data center
transformation have become to an organization’s ability to compete.
In the 2013 State of the Enterprise study by IDG Research, security and
disaster recovery top the list of critical technologies for competitive
advantage, followed closely by storage and data center consolidation.
Boosting data center efficiency remains a high priority for many
companies. A recent NetworkWorld study shows that IT retains a
focus on consolidation and flattening of the data center.
So critical have data centers become to businesses that a data center
outage of even a few hours will likely have a significant impact on
revenue, according to IT research firm 451 Research. And yet, many
organizations today have not optimized their data center operations.
In many cases, processes are not transparent within data centers and
decision making is complex, according to 451 Research. Imprecise
measures of accountability do not match the importance of the data
center to the business, the firm notes.
The Benefits of Colocation
Data center management is not easy. Rapidly increasing storage
requirements, power consumption and changing regulations have put
heightened demands on data center operations, making it difficult to
accurately forecast growth and manage budgets. Plus, there is added
pressure for the data center to support a flexible “cloud” strategy. This
strategy has to meet current needs and stay aligned with what will be
needed in the future.
Colocation Provides Economies of Scale
- It costs large colocation providers much less to
build their facilities; this is an economy of scale
that most enterprises can’t match.
- Colocation providers also typically have many
more highly trained staff as well as degreed
mechanical and electrical engineers.
For many companies, the solution is to deploy data center colocation
services. By leveraging a colocated data center, companies can lease
space, power and bandwidth from the service provider.
Demand for data center colocation services is on the rise, according
to industry research by IMS Research. These services are growing
for several reasons, the firm notes. For one thing, data centers are
increasingly costly to build and maintain, and colocation allows
companies to shift from having capital-intensive data centers to more
predictable operating expenses.
In addition, the firm says colocation data centers are often built with
energy-efficient designs and equipment that might not be feasible in
smaller in-house facilities. Furthermore, projecting future capacity is
becoming more difficult as IT evolves and requirements change.
Providers are offering colocation services that can help enterprises
optimize their data centers and address concerns around security,
reliability and industry-specific compliance. They provide data center
operations and services through secure, resilient facilities.
Compliance and security are major issues that are addressed in multitenant
data centers, says Dan Golding, vice president of data center
operations at Iron Mountain. “There is a tremendous and increasing
compliance burden on enterprises,” Golding says, adding that users
can be compliant far more efficiently by trusting the facilities of a
large, colocation data center in which customers enjoy the economies
of scale that come from renting space, power, cooling and bandwidth
under one roof.
“The bigger the data center, the less the per-unit cost of security
and compliance becomes, and conversely, the higher the quality
becomes,” Golding says. “At the same time, you get some real worldclass
operational skills. You can leverage all of that DNA, all of those
procedures, and all of those systems have been perfected in dealing
with other organizations’ particular regulatory environment and their
critical business unit data.”
Multitenant data centers are designed specifically to provide the flexibility,
scalability and economics to accommodate the exponential
increase in compute, networking and storage demands caused by
new technologies’ data requirements. “You have to take that holistic
[total cost] approach,” Golding says. “You’re actually paying less for
a much better product.”
A smart data center provider realizes the key to success is not
ignoring the needs of the customer, but rather becoming their trusted
adviser. This means asking questions about their implementation and
taking the time to help them realize their goals, which also include
such items as flexible contracts and configuration options, valueadded
services and meeting SLAs with trained and vetted employees.
“When you become a trusted adviser, and you’re in that circle of trust,
you can offer a solution that is so much more than just colocation,”
Meeting a Critical Business Need
Data centers are critical hubs of business operations, and in today’s
environment they need to be designed to be agile, reliable, secure
and compliant. The inability to achieve this can result in degraded
customer service, lost revenue and failed audits.
Organizations are challenged with creating such data centers
in-house—especially at a time when IT budgets remain tight and it
is difficult to manage rapidly growing data volumes and increasing
numbers of users and applications. On top of that, information
security threats continue to become more sophisticated, and regulations
such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and FISMA put enormous pressure on
organizations to protect data privacy and adhere to strict Industryspecific
For some companies, relocating data centers is a viable solution to
meeting changing needs. But this can come with significant risk, such
as the inability to meet regulatory and business continuity demands.
If you are considering colocation, make sure to partner with an operationally
sound provider that can meet your specific requirements,
especially as they relate to industry compliance.
Be sure to ask questions, not just about the power and cooling
capabilities, but the provider’s ability to provide secure and compliant
services, and whether the provider can meet your industry’s
specific regulations. Also ask if the provider uses trained and vetted
employees to deliver the service.
By tapping into the data center operations expertise of companies
that provide colocation services, enterprises can address their data
center requirements with a secure, versatile, resilient and compliant
data center environment that’s designed to support their everchanging