A major trade-off to having an onsite data center versus storing your hardware in a commercial-grade facility, is that you have to worry about certain threats that can take out mission-critical systems. Some of these threats are overlooked by IT managers, who end up having to do some serious damage control or finding themselves scrambling for a safer alternative.
The following four threats have been the bane of many an on-site data center. If you choose to build or stay on-premise, have a plan for dealing with these:
Threat #1: Multi-tenant Hazards
Crowded office buildings are some of the worst places for data centers, and any seasoned data center consultant will likely have multiple horror stories to back this up. Flooded lavatories can wreak havoc on data centers multiple floors beneath. Fires set by neighboring businesses can set off wet fire-suppression systems that fry infrastructure. Mice in the walls can chew up cords and connections. These disruptions are beyond the control of the data center owner, making extended downtime a constant threat.
Commercial-grade data centers insure against multi-tenant threats either through specialized construction or by being built alone. For shared construction, data center walls are often reinforced or have gaps between adjacent tenant-offices. Also, the data centers install a their own Non-destructive or “dry” fire suppression systems that will not destroy electrical equipment.
Threat #2: Utilities Infrastructure Vulnerability
Often, what is going on outside an onsite data center is more dangerous than what is inside. Many offices are just one lightening-strike away from prolonged downtime. Even with safeguards in place, a large-scale event like a hurricane can cause utility outages for longer than most business can survive without technology.
Data centers, on the other hand, have multiple network access points as well as backup generators for extended outages. So if wind blows down a nearby utility pole, it will not cause a downtime for a data center, since the facility has access to multiple carriers and can generate its own electricity.
Threat #3: Security Risks
Standard office buildings are not built for commercial grade data security. Drywall can be punched straight through by intruders, standard do or locks can be manipulated, and monitoring is difficult.
There are many features in a commercial-grade data center that are not practical to retrofit in onsite data center, such as 24/7 security, mantrap areas, and biometric scanners. The capital costs of adding these features is so high that it often makes more financial sense either to simply move the data center to colocation or to shoulder the security risk.
Threat #4: Limited Scalability
Although not an immediate threat to data centers, space and equipment constraints are roadblocks to growth. Volume spikes can leave data center managers scrambling to supply the bandwidth, leading to downtime and poor application performance. Scalability is a prime benefit of data centers due to their easy access to compute and storage resources, and spacious interiors.
Onsite data centers sometimes save money and time, but the trade-off is reliability and security. Within your own walls, you are often vulnerable to Acts of God, freak accidents, and internal intruders.
However, if you DO decide to stay onsite, there are at least four main threats you should be prepared for. Keep your data backed up, your DR plan tested and ready, and if your having second thoughts, look into colocation options.
Colocation can re-define a company’s IT operations for the better. Start your due diligence with this comprehensive whitepaper.