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Trends in Data Centers
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Cooperation in the Data Center Can Reduce Costs, Increase ReliabilityPt. 2: Managing Common Disagreements Between FM and ITPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Survey: Data Centers Taking Steps to Trim Energy Use
Third Party Data Centers Expected to Grow
Increasingly, the cost of financing a new data center is driving many companies to explore other options. One way to save money is to use a co-location model, says G. Kelly Decker, president of Primary Integration. Storing identical data in two locations avoids the necessity of building a Tier 4 center. Co-location also transforms the data center function from a capital cost to an operating cost. "The wholesale data center industry is growing more than the corporate data center," Decker says.
Another trend is for large data centers, called cloud computing service providers, to share a user's application and information over the footprint of their servers, says Decker. "Advancements in technology are driving cloud computing," he says. Cloud computing also eliminates the need for the redundancy provided by Tier 4 data centers, because two data centers in separate locations are constantly replicating each other. In the event that one data center goes down, the other one is still available. Of course, more security-conscious users might be concerned about so much of their data floating around in the virtual cloud.
According to Rick Schuknecht, vice president of the Uptime Institute, third-party hosting of data centers is growing "by leaps and bounds." Whether it pays to keep the data center in-house or sign an agreement with a service provider depends on the company's business objectives. In the financial industry, data centers are not farmed out because of the importance of continuity and "transactional throughput," which is to say that the complexity of banking, for example, makes it necessary for those institutions to maintain full and positive control, says Schuknecht.
Go North, Young Man?
The future will see large data centers migrating north, where power grids are more reliable, temperatures are cooler, and there are better economic incentives for business, says Paul E. Schlattman, vice president, mission critical facilities group, Environmental Systems Design. "In five to eight years we will see data centers migrating to Michigan, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Denver," he says. "You can have your company in Florida and have your data center in Michigan. In cooler temperatures and lower humidity, the cost of operation is significantly less. If I take cooling down, I can save a lot of money."
Maryellen Lo Bosco is an Asheville, N.C.-based freelance writer who covers the facility market.