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August 10, 2015

Putting 5 data centre myths to rest

Carrier neutral hubs, doomed data centres and glorified server rooms, CBR puts a break to some long-lasting myths in the industry.

By Joao Lima

Even the data centre industry has been victim of myths and conspiracy theories that are nothing more than a myth.

Rob Bath, VP of Global Solutions at Digital Realty, told CBR: "The data centre, together with the network, form the foundation layer on which the entirety of the digital economy is built."

CBR brings down five myths surrounding data centres.

1. Are they just glorified server rooms

Businesses often have their own server room in the building in which they are based, but a data centre – at its basic level, is also a server room although it generally offers a higher standard of physical security.

According to the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, the general approach to data centre protection is one of ‘defence in depth’. Most facilities have fences built around them with very strict access to the inside of the building. For example, TelecityGroup uses multi-layered physical security including a secure perimeter, biometrics and video surveillance.

At the mechanical and electrical level data centres have more capabilities to cope with downtime (by using generators and other sources of power to guarantee uptime.

Patrik Sallner, CEO of MariaDB said: "A lot of these SaaS [data centres] have built redundancy and disaster recovery. If there is a failure in a data centre – if a server as a physical problem, if there is a connectivity problem, or if there is an electricity supply problem – all data centres have reserved generators in them."

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2. Renting is always the best way

In November 2011, Rakesh Kumar, Gartner’s research VP, estimated that if some customers paid a hosting provider for four years of service, they could have paid for a new data centre within that time. But could this still be the reality today?

Running a data centre is not just about buying out a building, servers and racks. There are a lot of costs associated with it from licenses to cooling, energy and power.

Steve Webb, Ark Data Centres CIO, told CBR: "In modern day data centres, energy and efficiency is probably the biggest driver of cost. Putting aside rents and other over costs of running a data centre, energy and energy consumption of the IT equipment and the associated overhead cooling of the IT equipment probably represents 40% to 50% of the total overhead of that piece of infrastructure."

In a white paper, Schneider Electric explains that both quantitative and qualitative factors play a significant role in the decision of whether to keep IT equipment in-house or in a collocation provider’s third party data centre. Data centres should always first assess the feasibility of making upgrades to their existing facility, as these generally provide quick, cost effective means of adding capacity.

When comparing common upgrades to the expense of a collocation provider, the cash crossover point is less than three years.

3. One data centre only offers one carrier

Some might do, but not all operators are carrier biased. As long as data centre providers allow any customer to use any carrier within the data centre, then that data centre is carrier neutral, according to Colt Data Centres.

Collocation America explains that a carrier neutral facility helps customers’ businesses as they have the opportunity to choose to whom they connect to better satisfy their connection needs.

Interxion’s UK MD Adriaan Oosthoek told CBR: "Carrying neutrality is a very important for us and we are truly neutral to whatever carrier that our customers want to use. We don’t favour one carrier over another and we want to have as many as possible, so our customers have many options to chose from, in order to organise their connectivity."

4. Distant data centres are better

When looking for a data centre, the hub does not need to be right outside a company’s headquarters but at the same time it does not need to be on the other side of the world, as this will have an impact on latency and potentially interfere on mission critical loads.

"At more than 100 km, even with tuning capabilities, latency issues will begin to impact performance and make any synchronous or active/active recovery model unrealistic," according to Gartner.

In the financial services – especially if dealing with the stock market – the closest to the facility the better, hence, for example, the existence of several data centres in Central London.

Oosthoek said that if two customers deploy in the company’s data centre next to the City of London, the latency between them will be less than one millisecond, but "if one is here and the other one is in Slough, it will be around three times longer. It is quite important that they are in the same data centre and we call that proximity hosting".

5. Data centres will end with the cloud

Wrong. Data centres will not end with the cloud. In fact, the cloud will create new business opportunities for operators and customers.

An example of this, are the recent multi-million investments done by firms like Equinix to expand its footprint to answer the demand for cloud services as interest on IoT spikes worldwide.

Oosthoek told CBR: "We do not see it [the cloud] as a threat; we see it as an opportunity.

"What is appearing now is what we call hybrid cloud where customers make a choice between what they want to outsource to a cloud provider and what they want to keep to themselves. However, there needs to be some kind of interconnection; it needs to work together, because often these workloads are not working in complete isolation."

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