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April 11, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:16am

5 things to consider when switching data centre providers

It’s not all about cost, you know.

By Joe Curtis

Switching data centre providers? No problem. CBR speaks to Zahl Limbuwala, CEO of predictive data centre modelling software firm Romonet, about the five issues CIOs need to keep in mind when choosing a new provider.

Cost

"One of the challenges the CIO has particularly with the pressure they’re under from CFOs in the business," Limbuwala tells us.

"CFOs are busy reading the press about how Google and Amazon are fighting each other to reduce the price of cloud services, and are saying do we really need to have the capex as well as the opex?"

That pressure has increased over the last couple of years as cloud has become more widely adopted by enterprises, the exec adds, but it means CIOs must balance cost and the level of service they get.

Switching between data centres is pretty easy these days

That wide acceptance and use of cloud services means a lot more of a company’s services are typically already virtualised in one data centre or another.

" Doing that makes one of the major barriers to migration essentially disappear," contends Limbuwala, because rather than migration on-premise data to the cloud, you’re simply switching between virtual machines.

"Moving virtual servers between essentially homogenous chunks of IT infrastructure can become as easy as pressing a set of buttons on a software console," says Limbuwala.

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Collocation or managed service provider?

There’s a choice – do you continue to manage your own IT infrastructure, and simply rent space in a multi-tenant cloud (collocation) or do you get a managed service provider (MSP) to do it for you?

"With a collocation provider you get the least amount of value," claims Limbuwala. "In terms of the CIO’s motivation, they are highly cost-driven and want to reduce the business cost.

"They can’t just say ‘I’ve been in collocation for years or I’ve been with an MSP for years, all I’ll do is see if someone has a better price.’ Now you should say do I really need to own the equipment, can I just have some of my services provided from the cloud?

"There’s a large cost differential there, it’s very difficult to ignore."

What value does a managed service provider add?

If you’re letting someone else take care of your IT infrastructure, they should be adding some value that you can’t provide yourself.

"The differentiator really is becoming more about how well does that service provider actually understand the services they are providing to you," says Limbuwala. "That’s both from a technology perspective, what value will they add on top of everything else, can they actually become a value-added extension to your IT function?"

Age of data centre

Lastly, a brand spanking new data centre is going to be a lot less costly for its provider to run than one that’s getting old.

Limbuwala explains: "There are some fundamental differences in the way data centres themselves are designed and built. With collocation, there can be some significant cost differences. I’m talking a two to one cost difference between a smart, intelligent data centre optimised from a design perspective versus one that looks more like something designed and built ten years ago.

"While both deliver the same level of service, the cost impact on the service provider and therefore their ability to price it competitively has a big difference."

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