7 Reasons Why You Need a Data Centre Strategy

Data Centre Consultant Stephen Bowes-Phipps offers his views on why a Data Centre Strategy is crucial for any business. 

The network that connects every device and every business system to each other is now so critical that many CIOs and CTOs can measure every minute of unproductive working in lost business opportunity when the Data Centre fails.
— Steve Bowes-Phipps | Senior Data Centre Consultant

With already so much to juggle, the time to establish a creditable Data Centre strategy is very limited and external help can go a long way in ensuring your Data Centre strategy is able to support your business, manage risks and drive innovation. 


Leveraging over 20 years of Data Centre Experience, Steve Bowes-Phipps leverages his expertise and experience in IT Operations, Data Centre design, configuration and maintenance as well as Data Centre Best Practice to present seven reasons why you need a Data Centre strategy. 


1. No business can operate without IT


Ten years ago, many organisations could have probably survived a major Data Centre outage by reverting back to paper processes. Phone systems would still be on fixed lines, and the fax machine, while beginning to become redundant, would still have been an active part of your office. Fast forward to the present day, and I can’t remember the last time I sent or received a fax. VoIP is more prevalent than fixed line telephony solutions, and email is the written word as far as business communications go. The network that connects every device and every business system to each other is now so critical that many CIOs and CTOs can measure every minute of unproductive working in lost business opportunity when the Data Centre fails.


2. Business Systems are more diverse than ever

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With integration and the growing diversity of business systems comes complexity. It’s great that your main Customer Portal is linked to all your customer databases and runs on a virtual machine with virtual storage and replicated data. However, as these systems are so complex, many support organisations rely on specialist resources that are single points of failure when it comes to understanding how these systems all integrate with one another. Further complexities are added into the mix when it comes to considering where all these systems are located physically, putting your business and career at significant risk.


3. Business agility is measured in days not months

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When I started out in IT Management, the lead times for new equipment were so long, that IT equipment required for the project could ramp up with measured speed, allowing for decisions on architecture, configuration and even testing to be made well in advance and planned with a degree of accuracy. Today’s virtualised world means that expectations are greater than ever before; the virtual machines (VMs) and storage will be made available instantly and then handed over to the testing teams within hours or days to the request being made. IT needs to run at two speeds, to enable innovation and agility, yet protect the business from risk.


4. Data Centre capacity is more constrained by the mechanical and electrical characteristics


A Data Centre used to be ‘full’ when you couldn’t squeeze another cabinet into it. With high density blade systems now the norm for most organisations, capacity limits are less visible. With Data Centre investment spanning 15 years, power footprints have significantly increased, leaving most Data Centres short of Power and Cooling. Coping with high thermal output, high power demand and networking latency issues requires a completely different way of implementing, measuring and managing your Data Centre and its equipment. Can more power be fed into the site? Is there room to implement more condensing units on the roof or in the plant space? How do I transition to a more effective space management strategy without impacting production services?


5. Data Centre Management is a specialist Practice


Data Centre Managers need to be experts in Best Practice in order to squeeze every last bit of capacity from their facilities. There is never a ‘steady state’ in a Data Centres with changes coming from business issues (both internal and external), IT technology and Data Centre technology. However, Facility Managers and IT staff are often either ignorant of what Data Centre Managers are trying to achieve or are too busy implementing or fixing to care. The lack of change control, asset registers or CMSs that faithfully reflect the true IT estate is undoing the good work done in order to make the Data Centre as effective and efficient as possible. At worst, this can lead to critical systems failing through overheating or whole Data Centre facilities failing to cope with the demands being put on the infrastructure by IT.


6. Being efficient in your Data Centre is a 'good thing'

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These days, many organisations have a Corporate Responsibility policy that stresses the need to save electricity and be ‘greener’ than ever before - usually culminating in a ‘target’ for Carbon Management by (say) 2020. Few organisations realise that a large step towards meeting those goals can be taken through applying Best Practice within their Data Centres. Data Centres can account for up to 35-40% of a company’s power usage, so improving the energy efficiency of your Data Centre can not only vastly reduce operational costs, but significantly reduce your organisation’s Carbon output. PTS estimate around 40% savings in cooling costs alone can be achieved relatively easily by most organisations. Instead of being seen as a ‘cost’ to the business, your Data Centre can be seen as part of the solution. Good Data Centre energy efficiency can also become a great marketing tool, showing your organisation operates responsibly.


7 . There are more options than ever before when it comes to the location of your services


What happens when Data Centre capacity is exhausted? How will your geographical strategy integrate with your business requirements for mitigating business risk, disaster recovery and business continuity planning? Who will host your services and how will you cope with variable demand? How do you offer the same business services at a lower cost, and without losing control? How do you meet the demands of the ever-increasing pace of business and be seen as the springboard to growth, rather than the bottomless pit of costs and drain on management time?