Ben Hatton Data Center Trends of 2013

December 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

2013 has definitely been a great year for all of us at Data Cave, and we are all looking forward to exciting new things in 2014, but I wanted to take some time to look back on where our data center industry has moved this year, and look at some of the biggest trends of 2013.

In addition to the changes and trends that we have seen this year at Data Cave, I wanted to get an idea of what other data centers were seeing as well. For that, I turned to the Uptime Institute, an independent data center research organization. Each year they survey over 1000 data center owners and operators around the world on a wide range of topics. The aim of this annual survey is to answer these questions:

Trends questions

The results of this year’s survey (which can be viewed in full here) reveal several key trends that have really started to take shape over the course of 2013. Now before I get into these numbers, it will help to make the following distinction between enterprise and 3rd party data centers, since they get referenced and compared quite a bit:

An enterprise data center is one that is managed by the IT department of  a particular company, and is typically considered “in-house”.  For example, if you own a company that builds widgets, and you have an in-house data center at your physical location, then you are considered an “enterprise” data center.

On the other hand, a 3rd party data center is one that houses equipment for more than just one specific company. Facilities like Data Cave are considered to be “3rd party” data centers.

Here are the key findings of the survey:

1) Data center budgets are going up (or down, depending on how you look at it)

Budgets up and downThe survey found that budgeting for 3rd party data centers went up significantly in 2013, but at the same time enterprise data centers saw budget cuts (roughly 23%). This is a strong indicator that many companies are placing more emphasis on putting their money and equipment into a reliable 3rd party data center, rather than managing their equipment internally.

A likely reason for this shift is also something that we hear often from our clients at Data Cave, is that many companies would now rather leave their data center needs to the professionals, and get out of the data center business themselves. By shifting to a 3rd party data center, a company’s IT department can focus more on their core needs, without having to manage a data center as well. In addition, 3rd party data centers are much more capable of meeting a company’s uptime needs, since it is literally what they do for a living (we’ll get more into that below).

2) 3rd party data centers deliver in a big way on both reporting and energy consumption

Another finding of the survey relates to the level of reporting that data center operators communicate to their upper management (or for 3rd party data centers, the level of reporting to their clients). The types of reporting can include metrics like power usage, level of uptime, data usage, among others. The survey found that, while some level of reporting is taking place overall, it happens far more consistently among 3rd party data centers than it does with enterprise data centers (roughly 23% of enterprise data centers report to their upper management only when requested). Roughly 48% of 3rd party data centers report to their clients on a monthly basis, with others reporting at different intervals.

A similar comparison can be made between the 2 types of data centers on how they approach their level of energy consumption. While the majority of those surveyed ranked reducing their energy consumption as “very important,” few enterprise data centers have seen much incentive or ability to actually do this. A few reasons for this include:

  • More often than not (80% of the time to be exact), the budget for the data center’s power bill is allotted to a company’s Facilities budget, rather than to its IT department. This results in IT Managers having less motivation to take measures to reduce the data center’s energy consumption, because the tangible financial incentive just isn’t there.
  • As we already saw earlier in the survey, enterprise data center operators are seeing decreasing overall budgets , which reduces their financial means as well.
Data Cave facility

Third party data centers like Data Cave tend to excel over enterprise data centers, because running a data center is their full-time job.

On the other end of the spectrum, many 3rd party data centers as well as some larger data centers have taken measures this year to reduce their carbon footprint. This is largely thanks to them having the following:

  • The financial incentive as well as the financial means.
  • A good amount of knowledgeable data center staff in place.
  • An infrastructure that allows for more scaleability, since they are not typically hindered by power or space constraints.

What do these trends all point to?

I think that more than anything, these trends collectively point to one overall truth that we are seeing more and more at Data Cave:  companies are realizing the benefits of making the shift from an internal enterprise data center, to a separate data center managed by a 3rd party. By getting out of the data center business themselves, companies are able to reap many benefits including lower IT costs, higher security and scaleability, and above all, more peace of mind. This shifting mindset is a huge trend that we have seen over the past several years, and a big one that we believe will continue in the future.

If you are a data center operator, what are some other trends you have seen this year? We would love to know! We encourage you to leave a comment, or Contact us to continue the conversation!


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