Should you own your own data center?

Should you own your own data center?

 As a business owner or manager, one of the most critical decisions you will make is how to ensure the integrity, security, and access to your company’s data.  Having been in the ISP, data center, and IT services industry for over 10 years, I’m still amazed that these decisions are often taken lightly or delegated to technical personnel whose only criteria is that we keep everything “in house”.

I’ve seen “in house” mean everything from the broom closet to a corner of the garage at the owner’s home because the cable internet was much faster there than the DSL they had at the office.  I’m talking critical data that, if lost, would cripple or potentially close the business permanently.  This is not where you cut corners; this is the very lifeblood of your business.

Your critical servers should be housed in a data center with proper climate control, power systems with uninterruptable, clean power, backup  generator systems, fiber connections to the internet with multiple carriers and diverse paths, fire suppression, security systems, etc., and lots of redundancy.

Tour a local data center and it won’t take long to realize that building a proper data center is an expensive enterprise. Renting space in such a data center for your critical servers is not just smart, but cost effective.

ZDNet’s CIO Jury in Steve Ranger’s article on the subject comes down squarely on the side of outsourcing for most of us:

When asked the question “Is it always better to own your own data center?” ZDNet and TechRepublic’s CIO Jury panel of tech decision makers responded with a resounding no by a margin of 11 to one.

Matthew Oakley Group head of IT at Schroders said that while you don’t always have to own the data center, what does matter is knowing where your data is “and understanding the controls around securing it and the infrastructure it runs on.”

For smaller organisations it’s an easy decision to make, according to Alan Bawden, commercial director at The JM Group, said: “For an SME it is much better to outsource it and hand it over to the professionals — you will however have to pay a little more to ensure that the provider can meet your security and uptime requirements.” Michael Hanken, VP of IT at Multiquip added: “With the right outsourcing partner you can leverage scale and free up your team from routine operations. The key is, however, to find the right partner.”

For most SMB’s, the right fit is a local data center with a trusted partner, such as your ISP.  Many ISP’s operate data centers or partner with others who do.  Having your data housed in your area gives you further assurance that you’ll have 24/7 access to your hardware without relying on a vendor in another city.

Get to know your local data center operator; they can become your trusted partner and give you the peace of mind that only comes with knowing you’re doing it right.