The growth in data volumes coupled with the need for more flexible and bespoke IT capabilities means committing significant investment into managing and maintaining your own internal IT infrastructure is becoming increasingly difficult to justify within the boardroom. Instead, the rise in third party outlets, such as colocation facilities, and the flexibility of terms offered by these providers now means you can pass that responsibility onto someone else, giving you peace of mind of knowing that your IT infrastructure is safe and in secure hands. But once you’ve made the decision to outsource, how do you choose a provider?
Most likely you’ll have a set of requirements – the need for high-tiered facilities offering great connectivity, high broadband speeds, multiple service options and proximity to key business hubs are all these are likely to sit highly on your list. When it comes finding a facility to meet these requirements – all roads might lead to major cities, such as London, but if you look a little closer those hubs are not without their own individual challenges.
Firstly, facilities located in major cities are automatically are privy to the costs and risks associated with city life. In somewhere as land precious as London for example, the rental market is very competitive and because of this the costs associated are then passed onto you the customer. Another consideration is future costs – is your business likely to grow, meaning you may require more rack space? If this is a possibility, you need to ensure that the centre can provide space to grow, because relocating to a new facility can be costly. Centres outside of London are often bigger, with greater capacity to grow and scale, and therefore are easily able to incorporate new technologies.
While the costs associated with location are likely to be specific to a given business, one common concern will likely sit around security and risk. Traditionally, data centre hubs can often be found in close proximity to one another. In London, you’ll find the majority located in the east of the city. While obvious conveniences such as proximity to financial districts and key exchanges will ring true, there are also risks to this – notably the notion of having all your centres in one basket.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where the threat of terrorism is very real. MI5’s current threat level for the UK is severe, meaning an attack is highly likely and could pose a risk to your data. In the event of an attack a city may go into lockdown – the powers of remote working mean the impact of this is lessoned, but what would happen if an issue occurred at your data centre and no one was around to fix it?
Additionally, the natural surroundings of a data centre can also define vital elements of security, inherently increasing or reducing your exposure to risks. Is the data centre located close to a river, like the Thames for example? How is this going to impact the data centre should there be heavy rains and flooding? Locating a data centre on a flood plain is always a risky strategy – all that needs to happen is for flood defences to fail once and your entire IT system could be compromised. Fire is also a constant threat for major cities. While today’s advanced fire prevention systems go a long way to protect the city’s data centres, those located outside of the city carry far less of a risk.
Ultimately, when looking for a data centre partner, these are all things that you’ll need to consider. Your business will have unique requirements, and it is critical that any facility is able to meet these. While major cities such as London might appear to be the obvious choice when it comes to outsourcing your information, it is important to understand that these are not the only choice – recognising this might even allow you to unlock more features and benefits, reduce the threat of risk, all at a significantly lower cost.