As growing numbers of organisations begin to make positive plans for the future, is the office really the best place for the data centre, asks Joanna Sedley-Burke, managing director of Sovereign Data Connect.
Organisations cannot afford any constraints on expansion (e.g. mergers) and one of the key areas of agility must be within IT. Why retain the computer room within precious office space? Why overspend on electricity because the internal computer room is, by default, far less efficient than a dedicated specialist provider’s data centre? Why place your servers in an environment that isn’t managed and monitored 24/7?
Don’t be constrained by space
There is no doubt that many housing providers have become far more flexible over the past five years, from the use of hot-desking to the adoption of flexible, remote and home working. However, when organisations need to increase staff resources, the reality of squeezing new individuals into already overcrowded offices is an increasing challenge.
Yet many of these organisations will also have a significant amount of floor space dedicated to housing computer equipment. Indeed, to the frustration of the rest of the business, many of these computer rooms are actually less crammed than in the past because organisations have used virtualisation to reduce hardware.
Of course, should a major expansion be required, it is highly unlikely that the current infrastructure will be able to scale, despite virtualisation, to meet requirements without massive capital expenditure and significant upheaval.
There is a growing fear that too many organisations are, perhaps unwittingly, going to find themselves constrained by continuing to locate the computer room within expensive office space. From cost to scalability, risk to skills, keeping the server room ‘in house’ fundamentally compromises the concept of an agile business.
Not designed from the ground up to support the needs of IT equipment, the internal computer room is unlikely to be power efficient, however innovative the cooling design and air conditioning technologies, and certainly consumes far more electricity (at a significant cost) than the equivalent equipment located within a state-of-the-art data centre designed to achieve the best PUE (power usage efficiency) ratings.
Indeed, the most recent figures reveal that while the PUE rating of a good, modern data centre is between 1.3 and 1.4, the average in-house computer room has a PUE of between 2.0 and 3.0. This demonstrates the huge additional and unnecessary levels of power consumption needed by an internal computer room, and the business is unlikely to have access to the wholesale electricity prices enjoyed by a dedicated data centre supplier.
Dedicated data centre services
By relocating the equipment to a dedicated data centre outside a major urban conurbation, an organisation gains access to a more energy efficient design and lower electricity prices, and also gains the economies of scale of the dedicated data centre resource to manage the infrastructure. It also automatically achieves the essential disaster recovery and business continuity planning that so many businesses do not achieve.
Furthermore, freeing up that space for revenue-generating personnel provides an immediate financial benefit to the business. Indeed, as one company discovered recently, removing the computer room from a central London office to a dedicated data centre not only enabled the addition of new staff without adding space, but also improved its disaster recovery strategy and created a fully-scalable model to support future expansion plans.
Flexibility is key
Even with a more optimistic outlook, economic growth is unlikely to be smooth. Organisations need to build in far more flexibility to the model; to add revenue generating staff without investing in additional space and extending IT capability without requiring significant capital expenditure. In reality, the argument for locating a data centre within the office makes no sense given the quality of colocation and hosting services now on offer and the wide access to fast, reliable communications.
Moving the data centre to a dedicated provider gives the business the ability to expand without incurring additional costs, and gives the IT team access to the scalable, flexible, well-managed data centre resources required to respond to fast-changing business needs. Critically, by removing the data centre from the office, housing providers can get one step closer to creating a far more agile and responsive business model, an approach that will undoubtedly be essential to exploit emerging opportunities for growth.
Joanna Sedley-Burke is managing director of Sovereign Data Connect.