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The big data centre con

4 Mins

So, why are the majority of UK data centres still run and maintained internally?

It can’t be cost, that’s for sure. Anyone who knows what you need to take into account and looks at the numbers in the cold light of day would outsource in a heartbeat.

It’s difficult to argue with maths.

There is a theory that it comes down to trust. Why would you put something so important into somebody else’s hands?

There is a clear nervousness relating to the transparency of cost as well. A ‘pay for what you use’ model is an appealing option on paper but only if the company in question can run it more efficiently than you can.

If a data centre isn’t efficiently run (by you or someone else) your costs will forever be unpredictable. Geography also plays its part. If you in-source, you have the assurance (whether it is downstairs or up the road) that any issue is within arms reach. It can be far enough away not to be a risk but close enough to manage.

The initial emergence of data centre providers cottoned onto this paranoia very early on and began to buy real estate in London, or as close as you could possibly get, almost regardless of whether or not it could be run efficiently.

Location seemed to reign. Great right? Wrong.

If you shoe-horn big hot sweaty servers into a location that wasn’t designed to be kept cool, the bi-product is inefficiency that you as a customer will have the privilege of paying for.

It’s easy to see why there would be a reluctance to outsource. If a data centre provider can’t predict your cost or prove that it isn’t clearly more secure or resilient, then why would you bother?

The idea of outsourcing was great but the model was once messy and unpredictable.

Step one is acceptance

Not everyone is a data centre specialist. Why would you be? You have businesses to run. And here is the hard truth, unless you have your own purpose built data centre that was designed to perform purely that function, you can’t compete with outsourcing on almost any level.

That doesn’t mean that any outsourced model wins though, oh no. Like any industry, you have the good, the bad and the aesthetically challenged.

Contract terms can be long and sticky but they don’t have to be with the right company. Any data centre provider worth their salt will take into account that your needs can and will change.

Energy consumption and the cost of power play an awfully big part. Ask the providers how they cope with rising energy prices and their strategy to safeguard any long-term investment that you’re considering. What is their buying power? After all, they’re likely to use more than you, are those benefits passed onto you as a customer?

Did you know that 40-60 per cent of your data centre ‘through life costs’ are solely down to power?

Here’s a big one. Do they own the freehold to the land? In principle it may not make a huge difference to you but if they lease and change is forced upon them, then you share their risk.

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