Data Centers as a Service: A Growing Trend
Although “software as a service” (SaaS) has gotten a lot of attention lately, “data centers as a service”(DCaaS) are an equally game-changing trend. Whether it’s a cloud service or a physical co-location, businesses are increasingly outsourcing some or all of their data center needs.
Factors driving the trend
There are a number of factors driving the shift to DCaaS:
- Lack of capacity due to a business’s inability to expand its own data center. Reasons range from a lack of physical space, lack of power or cooling capacity, lack of available capital, to staffing shortages
- The option of switching data center funding from a capital expenditure to an operational expense, which may help some companies meet their financial goals
- The ability of DCaaS providers to customize both space and equipment to a client’s specific needs
- Getting a new data center up and running faster and in a more cost-effective manner than the business could do on its own
- The opportunity for a business to reduce its own carbon footprint, which can provide both financial and PR benefits
Criteria for success
DCaaS can be a highly beneficial choice for business enterprises, but there are some concerns that must be addressed. Most revolve around the risk involved in giving up control – even partial control.
- Detailed service contracts can alleviate a lot of those concerns, but providers can still suffer a disaster, merge, or go out of business overnight. Any service level agreements should include provisions for what will happen if the provider becomes unable to fulfill its obligations. The agreement could specify, for example, that the service will be shifted to a third party.
- Service agreements should also specify what will happen if and when the client decides to change providers.
- It’s incumbent upon the client to verify that the provider employs adequate security protocols. As far as end users are concerned, they’ll blame the client, not the provider, for any data breaches.
- Clients may want to consider maintaining critical functions in-house. That enables them to take immediate, direct action in the event of a problem that affects operational continuity.
- Clients should also develop and maintain in-house contingency plans for what will happen if data hosted by the provider is temporarily unavailable due to provider downtime, WAN disruptions, etc.
Data centers as a service are on the upswing, and the trend is only expected to continue. While there are some risks involved, businesses can minimize them by doing their homework and by carefully negotiating service agreements. When those things are in place, DCaaS can provide benefits in capital, capacity, and expertise.
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