By Tim Huffman
Data center outsourcing is a growing trend, with many large enterprises embracing the financial and operational benefits associated with wholesale co-location solutions. The resulting demand has created U.S. data center hubs in Silicon Valley, New York / New Jersey, Northern Virginia, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Phoenix.
There are millions of square feet of available data center space in these centers, providing Fortune companies with a variety of benefits. The following is a best-practices guide that highlights the key elements that differentiate an outsourced data center solution from an in-house operation.
Outsourced data center operators are required to offer service level agreements related to all the key environmental and infrastructure elements of the building. When an SLA is missed, the operator is required to compensate the tenant. Consequently, the building design and systems are generally state-of-the-art and maintained at the highest level to avoid downtime and subsequent financial penalties.
According to a Ponemon Institute study, the average recovery time for a total data center outage is 134 minutes, with costs averaging approximately $680,000. Corporate owned and operated data centers might not be built or operated to the standards of third-party data centers, since many were built more than 10—or even 20—years ago.
The Uptime Institute has created a tier rating system to grade the resiliency of data centers. Here are the basic requirements for the system.
Tier1: Basic site infrastructure with expected availability of 99.671%
Tier 2: Redundant site infrastructure capacity components with expected availability of 99.741%
Tier 3: Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure with expected availability of 99.982%
Tier 4: Fault-tolerant site infrastructure with electrical power storage and distribution facilities with expected availability of 99.995%
2. Risk Mitigation
Creating distance between a company’s corporate headquarters and its production data center eliminates the risk of a single event—such as a utility blackout or a natural disaster—taking out both facilities. Having a 25- to 500-mile distance between the headquarters and the data center is ideal, as this allows the team reasonable access to the data center, as well as a buffer of distance from the main hub.
The distance between facilities must take into account the latency tolerance of the applications that are running in both locations. Today, many companies are mitigating that risk by setting up data center hubs and co-location facilities in key markets where outsourced data center operators offer high-quality inventory.
3. Tax Incentives
The leading data center markets offer tax incentives that include relief from personal property taxes on IT gear, sales tax breaks, tax benefits for job creation and a variety of additional elements that are not available in secondary markets.
4. Speed of Delivery
Building a new data center or upgrading an existing one can take up to two years. Today’s data center operators provide an available inventory of space and power, offering the flexibility for expansion and a scalable growth platform that can reduce the time to occupancy by two to four months.
5. Discounted Power Costs
Power is one of the largest cost components in a data center. Large-scale data center operators typically consume 100 to 200 watts per square foot of space, which enables them to negotiate very favorable rates with public utilities. In a data center hub market, power can cost 40 to 60 percent less than the national average.