Data Centers -- Who Needs 'Em Anyway?

Data centers: they're expensive, hard to power and cool, and full of cranky hardware and software that requires ceaseless attention. But what can you do? Make it somebody else's problem.

Andrew Conry-Murray

September 27, 2007

2 Min Read
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Running a data center is for suckers. They're expensive, hard to power and cool, and full of cranky hardware and software that require ceaseless attention.

Salespeople mouth platitudes about ITIL, CMDBs and service management (translation: Give us more money). Virtualization vendors want to throw another layer of software at you -- which will require a whole new set of nonintegrated management tools. The CFO thinks "Cost center, cost center, cost center" every time she talks to you. And, oh yeah, global warming is your fault, too.

OK, you say, but what am I supposed to do? Business units need apps. Employees need e-mail and phone service. And everybody needs more storage.

Here's what you can do: Make it somebody else's problem. The software-as-a-service market is growing by leaps and bounds on this exact premise. Is there any reason to waste your time sorting spam from ham? Or hosting HR applications? Do you really need to build your own SAN when a Web-based service can automate backups and restores?

Of course, you can't outsource the entire data center. Some apps and services need to be held close to the vest for competitive advantage, compliance mandates and so on. But imagine how much leaner and more streamlined you can be by shedding the management of commodity functions.Yes, SaaS has its problems. There are privacy issues to address. Will you be able to get someone on the phone who knows what he's talking about? And Salesforce.com outages are big news for a reason. But let he who is without outages cast the first stone.

Preparing for SaaS takes time and effort. You need to do due diligence, calculate TCOs, ensure that the provider can do at least as good job as you and scour SLAs for sneaky clauses. You must be ready to customize and integrate apps and have emergency procedures in place if the provider goes belly up. And IT will still be on the spike if something goes wrong.

But IT is already on the spike when it does everything itself. So take a good look around the data center and start making a list. Not every problem has to be yours.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Conry-Murray

Former Director of Content & Community

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