Big Data Center Operators Keep Getting Bigger

It is becoming very clear that data center facilities have metamorphosed from small computer rooms to industrialized facilities. Due to the cost and complexity of running such a facility, we believe that many firms will opt to get out of that business and use data centers that are built and run by firms that focus on mission-critical facilities. Most of us are familiar with suppliers like AT&T and Savvis, but very few have noticed the larger data center wholesalers behind the scenes. This is partly because data center wholesalers are more focused on facilities than IT, leasing large chunks of capacity, entire data centers, or even supplying data center space to popular hosters and outsourcers that resell them to corporate buyers.

However, for firms with large data centers that aren't interested in outsourcing IT, it sometimes makes economic sense to go directly to wholesalers like 365 Main, CoreSite, and Digital Realty Trust. Or maybe just CoreSite and Digital Realty Trust. As of yesterday, almost 1 million square feet of 365 Main data center space was acquired by Digital Realty Trust, which brings their portfolio to somewhere just shy of 16 million square feet.

From a technical architecture standpoint, we believe that larger, more efficient, and industrialized data centers are the future of IT. As servers have multiplied and become more power-hungry, we find that firms with older facilities have fewer architectural choices. For them, highly utilized racks of blades are simply not an option because they can not provide the required environment.

We'd love to hear how your firm is planning to address its future data center requirements. Will you lease space from a data center operator or colocation facility? Other emerging alternatives also include moving some applications to public cloud providers or using new containerized data centers to create higher-density zones. 



How will Architects integrate collocation and cloud strategies?

Galen, as enterprises work with firms like DRT, will they stay focused on using server virtualization and evolving gradually toward the ideas of internal cloud? Or should enterprises start to think in an integrated way about combining collocation strategies with their hosted private and public cloud strategies? I'm curious to hear what the Infrastructure Architects are thinking.

Integrating colocation and cloud strategies

Thanks for the comment Frank: I believe that firms will need to supply different "flavors" of computing capabilities. It's a question of how well applications fit into traditional environments, versus public or private clouds. So yes, I would suggest firms incorporate data centers and cloud computing into a larger integrated strategy.

First, you definitely need standards/policies that determine what workload goes where depending on security requirements, cost, and technology fit. I've spoken with a number of firms that are interested in portals and automated rules engines that could assist with selecting the right infrastructure for the job.

For something else to think about, I think this creates a capacity planning question. I believe that our traditionally built systems and private clouds can happily coexist in the same facility. However, certain apps may be more cost-effective to move into a public cloud, thereby reducing the load on our other infrastructure.

As you move more stuff out of your data center, and increasingly virtualize what you have, what is the actual capacity that you need in each area?

We're virtualizing and consolidating while simultaneously growing, which makes this a pretty tough equation to solve.


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