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Selecting Your Data Center - Part 1

Understanding the Market - Navigating the Outsourcing and Data Center Colocation Industry

Data Center Automation on Ulitzer

The data center industry continues to evolve with mergers, acquisitions, and a healthy crop of emerging companies. New data center products and services are hitting the street, an aggressive debate on the model of selling space vs. power, and alternatives to physical data center space in the cloud are giving us a confusing maze of alternatives to meet our outsourcing needs.

The data center market is not unique. For example, in Southern California we have a wide variety of supermarkets and grocery stores including VONs, Ralphs, Albertsons, Jons, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and lots of others. All grocery stores basically sell the same kinds of products, with very few exceptions.

Old Data CenterWhat makes you go to VONs, rather than Whole Foods? Is it location? Prices? Image? A social issue?

The data center industry is not significantly different. In a city such as Los Angeles you have Equinix, Switch and Data, Savvis, BT Infonet, CoreSite, US Colo, Digital Reality, Level 3 – just to name a few. What makes one facility more attractive than another to fulfill your collocation needs?

Data centers, at the most common denominator, have traditionally offered:

  • Concrete (space for cabinets, racks, cages, suites, etc)
  • Power
  • Air conditioning
  • Interconnections

If all data centers offer the basic components listed above, then what discriminates the data centers from one another?

Now we can add additional alternatives to the basic data center model - the public cloud services provider/CSP and Software as a Service/SaaS.

As a potential data center tenant (this includes "virtual" data center tenants living in a CSP infrastructure) we have to evaluate all the above components, and determine which collocation or data center provider will best meet our facility, budget, and connectivity needs.

The Sense of Urgency

The CIO of the United States, Vivek Kundra, recently pressed the case for data center consolidation within the US government, as well as offering a strong recommendation that the US data industry strongly consider moving their operations into either consolidated data centers or virtualize within a cloud provider.

It is clear that data centers used by small and medium companies, as well as most content delivery companies, find better efficiencies in bringing their eCommerce and Internet-facing parts of their business into the data center, and locally interconnect with the Internet service provider community.

The cost of building a data center, providing staffing to manage the data center, and ensuring the efficiency of power and cooling usage is beyond the core competence of most companies. The need for disaster recovery plans, offsite storage, and other business continuity planning are just a few of the long list of items we need to consider as part of an overall information technology/IT or general business plan.

The potential waste of operational expenses, capital budgets, and resulting market "opportunity cost" justifies all companies at least consider outsourcing all or some of their IT operations – particularly as data center and CSPs increase their capabilities.

With the availability of netbooks, online applications (SaaS), and server-based office automation products, all companies should put this on their annual review list. Even the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) recently announced their decision to outsource the email to Google. This model does not appear to be going away anytime soon.

The "Selecting Your Data Center" Series

This series will walk through the process of identifying the need for outsourcing, identifying the best location for your data center, discriminating between the alternatives, and finally getting to your decision.

We welcome all comments, experiences, and discussions related to the data center community that would provide productive feedback for a potential data center or CSP tenant.

John Savageau, Long Beach

More Stories By John Savageau

John Savageau is a life long telecom and Internet geek, with a deep interest in the environment and all things green. Whether drilling into the technology of human communications, cloud computing, or describing a blue whale off Catalina Island, Savageau will try to present complex ideas in terms that are easily appreciated and understood.

Savageau is currently focusing efforts on data center consolidation strategies, enterprise architectures, and cloud computing migration planning in developing countries, including Azerbaijan, The Philippines, Palestine, Indonesia, Moldova, Egypt, and Vietnam.

John Savageau is President of Pacific-Tier Communications dividing time between Honolulu and Burbank, California.

A former career US Air Force officer, Savageau graduated with a Master of Science degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and also received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Asian Studies and Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland.

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