Jun 7, 2012

Build, buy, colocation or cloud?


Build, buy, colocation vs cloud?Trying to decide among the many IT Infrastructure options out there can be dizzying. Should you build your own data center, buy space from a wholesale provider, utilize colocation space or venture into the cloud? So many choices — I know my head is spinning! Lucky for you our own Randy Ortiz, vice president of data center design and engineering, recently broke it down during our webinar, Top Ten Data Center Strategy Success Criteria. Randy has successfully designed and project-managed over one million square feet of mission-critical space and provided technical guidance for the Data Center Journal as its president and executive editor, so he’s pretty much the top dog on the subject.

According to Randy, you must first weigh the pros and cons of each scenario. Here’s a rundown of the options:

1. Build your own data center

Building a data center is a time-intensive process, not to mention expensive. Plus you need expert consultants to walk you through the build and most certainly a dedicated staff to maintain the place. Think large capital investment. Although, you will have all the space you want (indoor rollerblading anyone?), and you can build to suit your individual requirements for security, capacity, redundancy, power… the list goes on and on. Data centers price tags can range wildly depending on which options you choose. Bottom line? Pricey, but highly customizable.

2. Buy wholesale space

Offering lower price points than building your own facility, wholesale can be a great option for those in the market for lots of space but not quite enough to accommodate your own personal marching band. A wholesale provider sells you space in large chunks, otherwise known as “pods.” We’re talking upwards of 5,000 – 10,000 square feet of space here. Another benefit is a lower operating expense if in fact the provider is helping manage the facility for you, but watch out for difficulty in scaling, cooling and power. Wholesale space is available in most key markets, but if you need a presence in small town USA you may be better off considering another option.

3. Purchase colocation services

So to those in the biz, this is also known as purchasing “retail” space. Typical colocation space agreements range from a single cabinet on up to 5,000 square feet. Colocation or “colo” is more cost-effective compared to options one and two, offers high levels of scalability, uptime guarantees, and in almost all cases, can meet certain industry compliance requirements depending on the provider. It’s great for those who want to maintain some level of control over their environment, but don’t need to pick out the wallpaper pattern — so to speak.

4. Host in the cloud

Ah, the almighty cloud. Great for scalability, zero provisioning costs, reduction of IT staff and a plethora of providers to choose from. Be careful which applications you choose to deploy, however, since all applications don’t play nice with the cloud (Quick aside: Check out our eBook The Top 5 Mistakes You Want to Avoid When Becoming a Cloud Superhero for more on this topic). You’ll also want to ask about compliance and security as different cloud species such as private, public and hybrid exist in the wild, and your choices can yield different results.

From here the next step is to examine your own requirements using Randy’s top ten data center strategy criteria, which you can conveniently get by listening to the webinar instant replay. Happy strategizing!

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