How to achieve the most flexibility and scalability for your IT infrastructure Featured

9:01pm EDT April 30, 2011
How to achieve the most flexibility and scalability for your IT infrastructure

For years now, enterprises and service providers alike have been leasing data center space from wholesale providers to meet their large-scale IT infrastructure requirements. While this model has worked for organizations with the financial and personnel resources to build out space themselves, the growing demand in the industry is for more flexibility to ramp up space and power on an as-needed basis.

To address this recent demand, providers are starting to offer larger colocation areas — something referred to as a Data Center-as-a-Service approach.

Smart Business learned more from Pete Stevenson, CEO at Latisys, about the difference between Data Center-as-a-Service and the more traditional wholesale leasing models.

What is Data Center-as-a-Service?

Data Center-as-a-Service is an offering that mirrors the features of colocation — providing access to power, cooling and bandwidth within a secure space inside a 24/7 staffed, fully redundant and highly reliable facility — but is designed for customers seeking 250 kilowatts to 2 megawatts of IT load. This size of deployment is typically ideal for the wholesale leasing arrangement, where tenants within what the wholesale providers consider a ‘turnkey’ facility are still responsible for facilitating their own routing infrastructure, racks, cabling, IP connectivity, etc. Data Center-as-a-Service providers deliver all of this under a service contract, leveraging their investments in equipment, technical experts and premier providers to eliminate the need for any customers’ capital expenditures.

Why would an organization choose a Data Center-as-a-Service solution over a traditional leasing model?

The Data Center-as-a-Service model provides the customer with much more flexibility than traditional leasing models. Most leasing arrangements are long-term agreements, ranging from 7- to 10-year-long contracts. As more and more companies are learning about the advantages of server virtualization and cloud computing environments, locking up a significant investment in a lease over several years can prove to be very limiting with regard to taking full advantage of rapidly advancing technologies that offer improved efficiency and reliability.

Providers of the Data Center-as-a-Service business model are often in a better position to offer more reasonable leasing terms, as well as additional IT infrastructure management solutions. From managed hosting to managed services, including storage, backup, security services, monitoring, load balancing and disaster recovery services, the provider’s ability to align different services and solutions according to the customers’ requirements translates into maximum agility for the customer. They are able to take full advantage of the latest infrastructure technologies.

What are some of the key advantages with a Data Center-as-a-Service model?

  • OPEX versus CAPEX: Rather than investing large capital expenditures in building your own infrastructure or turning up and staffing a leased space, you can utilize the technological innovations, dedicated service professionals and efficiencies of scale that a Data Center-as-a-Service provider delivers. You get space, power, bandwidth, cooling, security, 24/7 on-site staffing and more all under a single service contract and monthly service fee.
  • Service Level Agreement: Leveraging a provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) ensures that your IT infrastructure availability and performance sync with your firm’s business objectives. SLAs help guarantee performance delivery by including economic penalties that hold the provider financially accountable.
  • Network redundancy: In a leased environment, you’d be responsible for contracting your own network providers, which usually makes you reliant on a single Internet carrier and susceptible to embarrassing and expensive outages. Most Data Center-as-a-Service providers are able to offer blended bandwidth — multi-gigabit connections through diverse IP providers to ensure reliable connectivity through enhanced redundancy.
  • World-class security: Security processes are essential for the integrity of your mission-critical infrastructure. For the protection of all customers within the facilities, providers typically feature multi-layered security systems, digital video surveillance, network monitors and a 24/7 NOC team.
  • Managed services: Have a single point of contact for all monitoring, reporting, maintenance, performance and availability of the IT infrastructure. And while there may be different specifics per each unique service in place, all solutions are provided under the SLA to ensure the highest levels of reliability and performance.
  • Ultimate scalability: Gain a much more flexible relationship with the provider, as you’re in a place that can scale along with you. Take as much space, power, bandwidth and cooling as you need today — and when you need more, add only as much as you need. Data Center-as-a-Service providers truly become partners, as they are able to grow with you, at the speed of your growing business.

What traits should an organization look for when choosing a Data Center-as-a-Service provider?

All Data Center-as-a-Service providers have different capabilities, so it’s important you find one that not only meets all your current requirements, but that’s building for the future. Make sure the provider you choose is financially stable, has top-notch physical security, clearly defined SLAs, and sufficient growth capacity to meet your data challenges of today as well as the ever-evolving data challenges of the future. That’s when you can be sure you’re in a safe place to grow.

Pete Stevenson is the CEO of Latisys. Reach him at