Mid-sized firms are increasingly turning to third parties to meet their data centre needs – Outsourcing Report by Martin Courtney

More enterprise IT departments are choosing to outsource data centre management to third parties, according to new research, with up to three-quarters of UK companies believing secondary data centre will become a standard requirement for business continuity in the future.

A survey of 400 IT directors at companies with 500 employees or more in 13 European countries found that half of Uk businesses are already using third-party data centre management services, with 48 per cent planning to outsource more in the near future.

Carried out by Coleman Parkes and commissioned by Colt Telecom, the research found that finding space internally to house server farms was the most pressing reason for nearly three-quarters of firms outsourcing data centre provision. Security and systems management were cited by 70 per cent of those questioned. Power and cooling were bigger issues in the UK than elsewhere in Europe.

Why IT chiefs feel the need to outsource

Issue Percentage
Data centre requirements exceed available space 74%
Improved security and systems management 70%
Issues with power supply 66%
Cooling problems 63%

Source: Colt Telecom


“The corporates can afford their own data centres; it is the SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] that are outsourcing them,” said Colt head of datacentre services Chris Grant. “It depends on what business they are in, but even small companies that rely on their systems running 24/7 and need to expand their band-width and usage as application demand grows also outsource data centres. They cannot afford the infrastructure, and even if they could, they would never have the economies of scale that we have when it comes to managing that environment.”

Ioko, a company that specialises in digital and on-demand media, employs about 280 people and leases data centre services from Telehouse Europe. It recently signed a three-year contract with the provider that will give Ioko the capacity it needs to cope with additional demand for its digital media delivery platforms that support streamed video, online advertising and gaming services.

“Ten years ago, we started off with two racks, but the past three years have seen significant growth in demand for our services, and our space requirements have tripled. Our current facility is 80 per cent utilised, about 120 racks, but we envisage doubling that again over the next couple of years,”

said Ioko co-founder and director Mark Christie.

Christie admitted that securing a reliable power supply for its servers was a major consideration.

It is the security, scalability and the stability of the power supply that is really compelling to us. The SLA provides some compensation if there is loss of power, and Telehouse has power from dual feeds, generators and backup batteries as well,” Christie added.

According to Coleman Parkes’ research, 76 per cent of UK IT directors expect that they will be required to replicate data and applications to a secondary data centre for disaster recovery purposes in the near future, something that most firms will find difficult to achieve within their own premises and geographical footprint.

You can only do so much with a single data centre when it comes to making sure everything is resilient, so we have other data centres in Manchester and west London to provide disaster recovery for our customers,” Christie said.

This article originally appeared in IT WEEK