By Michelle Reid, UK sales director, Telehouse Europe

Outsourcing the data centre is in no way a new concept and has existed for many years. In fact, most large organisations have already outsourced their IT infrastructure to dedicated data centres and have seen substantial ROI from this move1. However, in recent years, companies of all sizes are under close scrutiny from government bodies, environmental groups and customers, and experiencing increased pressure to have a data centre that is cost effective, efficient and most recently, ‘green’. Today, the IT Manager’s limited budget is looking far more stretched than ever before. The amount of new data is continually growing, with the cost of power following suit, legislation is demanding data archives spanning decades and having water-tight security to protect data is becoming paramount. For the first time, both small and medium size businesses are seriously considering outsourcing as a viable solution, and more than half are expected to follow their larger counterparts in the near future.

However, despite the potential benefits seen and already experienced by those that have made the decision to outsource, many organisations are yet to make the move. Michelle Reid, Sales Director, at Telehouse Europe has spoken to numerous customers in the past to discuss and help resolve challenges and fears that may have previously hindered the decision to outsource. As a result of these conversations, she has identified the five most common topics to consider when thinking about outsourcing:

1. The cost and utilisation of power

The storing and processing of data is extremely power hungry. With the amount of data generated growing exponentially along with the cost of power increasing year on year, it will soon become unviable for companies to manage these rocketing fees internally.

Many companies do not realise that providing a power feed for a rack is only the first hurdle: cooling systems, back-up racks, 24 hour monitoring are just a few examples of other vital components that need to be powered to ensure the smooth running of any data operation. To put this into perspective, a 1KVA power feed will need an additional 1KVA worth of cooling and a further 2KVA to maintain each back-up system. Research has shown1 that some IT infrastructures demand as much as 23KVA of power, meaning that at least 92KVA is needed to ensure the rack is fully operational. Most IT departments can only cater for 1-2 KVA per rack, severely under the minimum requirements and putting unnecessary risk on the services they provide.

A purpose-built data centre is developed specifically to ensure all power demands are met. The equipment to house the technology is already in place and many data centres, including Telehouse, monitor usage and efficiency to ensure that customers are not overcharged for more than they actually need/or use.

2. Disaster recovery

Unavoidable downtime is a situation that no company wants to experience, but unfortunately it does occur and there is a high chance that every business will be impacted from this at one stage or another. As such, there is no use hiding your head in the sand and saying ”It’ll never happen to us”. It makes far more sense to face this head on and ensure a recovery programme is in place, as unavoidable downtime can cause irreversible losses.

Nowadays there are more threats to data than ever before, with potential challenges arising from power outages, major IT disruptions, fire hazards, human error and – most recently – terrorism. Realistically though, the highest threat comes from the less publicised issues such as general power failure and human error, and it is these that concern the IT manager most.

Furthermore, increasingly stringent government legislation and industry regulations, such as Sarbanes Oxley and Basel II, enforce organisations to make data accessible at all times. Downtime is not acceptable and the most efficient way to do so is on secure servers, preferably externally.

Purpose-built data centres are designed to overcome these potential problems and automated and manned systems are in place to carefully monitor processes 24 hours a day. Downtime is dramatically reduced due to back-up systems, and the threat of data loss is virtually nil when IT equipment and data back-up is housed externally in an offsite high security environment.

3. Security

Data security is high on everyone’s agenda and of extreme importance to businesses today. To ensure it is carried out effectively, a great deal of investment is required to provide the necessary high levels of physical and virtual security, costing IT managers a great deal of time and money.

In many cases though, when people think of security for data centre servers, clustering, data encryption or anti-virus systems are what come to mind first. However, physical security is just as, if not, more important than virtual security. Human error and IT failures can have a great impact on IT performance and are arguably a greater threat than external attacks.

Data centres have measures in place to eliminate concerns about the security of networks, data and data centre equipment. By using biometrics to identify visitors to the site, high-tech camera surveillance and caged protection for servers to prevent easy access by unauthorised personnel, IT managers can focus on the areas that they specialise in.

4. Flexibility

Many large organisations with a greater need to outsource can financially justify building their own data centre. However, for smaller organisations, outsourcing is the most effective option as it is cheaper and more secure than just storing data internally.

In addition, IT managers already have a broad spectrum of responsibilities as part of their remit and being asked to manage and maintain every aspect of a data centre can be extremely time consuming. Similarly, in smaller businesses there might not be the resources and expertise available internally to ensure data storage is managed effectively.

When companies consider building a purpose-built data centre or upgrading systems already in place, future proofing becomes a serious issue. IT managers all of a sudden become responsible for estimating the amount of extra space needed over a 5-10 year period. Predicting business growth over such a period of time in itself is incredibly challenging, but trying to calculate what server space will be needed from today’s data society is virtually impossible. Then when looking at the funding needed with any upgrade, the final decision is a choice many would prefer not to make.

Through outsourcing, companies are able to easily manage their requirements and can scale the amount of space and systems needed.

5. Expertise

Historically, organisations did not believe in outsourcing services that were core to the overall running of the organisation, such as business-critical data. However, as IT infrastructures are becoming more complex, demanding and expensive, it is becoming harder to find internal resources and expertise.

From past experience, IT managers will gain an instant benefit through outsourcing due to dedicated teams and the latest technologies being in place. The majority of data centre managers and employees have developed a great wealth of experience through countless years in a data centre environment.

For outsourcing to be completely successful, organisations need to be able to trust that their IT infrastructure will be as secure when outsourcing as it would be if hosted internally. By looking at this experience, the level of expertise of a data centre’s employees, and their existing customer base, IT managers should easily see that a data centre is the best option available for them.

About Telehouse Europe

Telehouse Europe offers data centre facilities and connectivity, providing a secure and resilient platform for mission critical IT systems. Established in 1988, Telehouse became Europe’s first purpose-built neutral colocation provider. Today, the company is at the heart of the Internet and telecommunications infrastructure, serving over 700 major customers worldwide, from small start-ups to multinationals across a wide range of industries. It is a subsidiary of Japanese corporation KDDI, a Global 300 company and, with its sister company Telehouse America, is able to offer a global network covering Europe, America and Asia.

In Europe, Telehouse operates five data centre facilities across London and Paris, providing 30,000m2 of high quality data centre services with secure and resilient infrastructure. Telehouse is the most financially robust colocation provider in the industry and has consistently increased its profitability, year on year over the past 12 years.

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