Ben Hatton Buy vs. Build: The evolving case for Colocation

September 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Cabinet Aisle

Colocation continues to be the ideal option for businesses evaluating their data center needs. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

I came across a great article that was recently written for Forbes, that looks at some of the reasons that colocation is increasingly becoming the ideal option for businesses, as opposed to building or modifying an existing internal data center. This is a topic that we’ve talked about quite a bit at Data Cave (check out our Choosing a data center: build vs. buy post from 2012), and it is becoming more and more relevant for IT departments in every industry. The Forbes article (which you can read here) shows that the data center landscape has changed dramatically even in the last few years, so I really wanted to emphasize what my biggest take-aways were from it that apply to our industry.

How data is created and used has spawned the need for greater density and efficiency in data centers.

There are exponentially more Internet-connected mobile devices  (for both personal and business use) out there than ever before, and the number continues to grow. The people who use these devices expect connectivity to data on a wide range of web services that is fast and always available. In addition to using data, these devices are also constantly creating and sending data as well.

This has spurred the need for increased scalability and growth of data centers, since they are ultimately where all of these communications are processed. Modern data centers are becoming larger, while at the same time adapting new technologies that allow for higher density computing than ever before (essentially handling larger workloads in the same or less space). This is the direction that the industry is moving in, and it is a model that traditional data centers really aren’t able to support without significant investment.

Higher density computing requires scale and redundancy, which in turn requires investment. 

Building a data center infrastructure that is scalable and that allows for high density computing requires a very high level of capital investment, a level that the writer states is “well beyond the budgets of most IT organizations.” We couldn’t agree more with this statement; for a data center to be able to scale and keep up with these new types of workloads, significant up front and ongoing investments are required. Everything from the data center’s physical size, server room layout, power distribution, cooling, and more have to be implemented with high levels of redundancy and scalability in mind. All of this requires an investment level that will far surpass the IT budgets for almost any company that isn’t actually in the business of being a data center provider.

Buy vs. Build: Colocation just makes sense

When addressing the buy vs. build question in the article, the writer makes a strong case for why colocation just makes sense, compared to building or modifying an existing internal data center. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Even if a business opts to invest in building and operating their own facility, it still most likely wouldn’t be as efficient, secure, or redundant as a colocation provider who specializes in data center services.
  • Colocation providers can provide better connectivity options, higher levels of uptime and redundancy, and lower up front and recurring costs than investing in your own data center.
  • To borrow a line from Greyhound, the writer believes that “Leave the driving to us” can be a good tagline for colocation providers as well.

These notions are ones that we have felt strongly about at Data Cave for a long time. While we believe that colocation has always been a better option than building your own data center, the rapid changes in the IT industry are showing the benefits of colocation even more clearly than ever before. If the Buy vs. Build question has been on your mind recently, we encourage you to contact us to discuss the benefits of buying over building in more detail!

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