It’s no exaggeration to say that data centers are taking over global IT provision. Driven by the world’s seemingly insatiable hunger for data, greater and greater demand to do everything online or in the cloud, managed data center markets are booming.
In Europe, for example, data center capacity has increased at record annual levels every year since 2016. According to CBRE, in that time the so-called ‘FLAP’ market – the key data center hubs of Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris – has doubled in size. Gartner estimates that between 70% and 90% of companies now use cloud services, which are hosted in data centers, and puts growth in cloud adoption alone at 18% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
Fundamentally, data centers represent a radical break with how IT systems and infrastructure have been provisioned, run and managed in the past. Servers remain the core of any IT service, providing the processing and storage resources to drive software applications, databases, websites, digital communications systems and much, much more. In the past, you had to locate servers close to the end points being used to access and use various programmes and applications, which meant businesses owned and ran their own servers on-premises connected to their own computers.
But now, with the development of IP networks and the Cloud, that is no longer the case. Servers can be located anywhere, set up and managed by teams of technical specialists in purpose-built facilities, with all the IT services they power distributed to end users by third-party providers via IP connections.
There isn’t just one model for how data centers are used to deliver IT services. The main ones include:
- Cloud services: Arguably the most well-known use of data centers, cloud services can be further broken down into categories including ‘Software-as-a-Service’ (SaaS), or the delivery of applications and digital tools via a subscription service (e.g. Microsoft 365, G-Suite), and ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service’ (IaaS), which provides server resources in a highly flexible, highly scalable virtualized form.
- Colocation: Companies hire space to have their own server hardware hosted in a data center, effectively outsourcing technical support and management of their assets.
- Dedicated server: Similar to colocation, except clients lease a server from the data center or a specialist service provider rather than put their own up for hosting.
- Managed server: As with dedicated server, clients rent server hardware from a service host, but unlike dedicated, they don’t pay for exclusive access to a full machine. Sharing ‘bare metal’ capacity with other clients makes for a more affordable option.
Aside from these, data centers are also used as a base for running numerous other services such as web hosting, telecoms, digital content provision and distribution (think Netflix), online and mobile gaming, search engines, social media, ecommerce and more. Some of the biggest digital brands in the world – Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook – are major players in the data center market as it continues to extend its reach across every aspect of our digital lives.
So the big question is – why? What is so great about data centers that is driving this takeover, and what are the benefits to businesses? Here are four key reasons why businesses are turning to managed data center services, from colocation to cloud solutions.
Increased cost efficiencies
Most of the main data center service models – cloud, dedicated server, managed server – eliminate all CAPEX costs, allowing businesses to run IT systems without purchasing, maintaining and upgrading their own server equipment. The switch to an OPEX cost model enables more consistent, predictable expenditure, helping businesses to manage budgets more efficiently.
Even with colocation, where businesses do still own their own hardware, data centers help to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO), with dedicated maintenance and recovery services reducing the burden on organizations to pay for their own technical management, or call out engineers when there is a problem at a potentially high cost. All of this is taken care of as part of the service, again on a consistent, predictable cost basis.
24/7 technical management
Not only does the dedicated technical management offered by data center-run services help to stabilize and reduce IT costs, it also lends itself to better outcomes for the end user. Data centers are specialist facilities kitted out with the latest cutting-edge equipment and staffed by fully qualified, expert engineers who specialize in IT infrastructure design and maintenance.
Service providers base their business models on offering exceptionally high QoS, which includes around-the-clock, 24/7, 365 monitoring of hardware, security, network availability, server functionality and more. The moment an issue is spotted, someone can address it. What is more, technicians are on hand at any time to fulfill any kind of request from a client, be it upgrading components in a colocated server or scaling up a cloud service by increasing hypervisor capacity.
Premium levels of security and resilience
As a result of dedicated around-the-clock monitoring and management, data centers can offer exceptionally high levels of security and resilience for IT system infrastructure. Data center premises themselves are state-of-the-art protected facilities designed with advanced failover protocols in mind. This includes physical protection such as high-tech on-premise security, sophisticated cooling and environmental management systems to stop server banks overheating and uninterruptible power supplies, as well as advanced cybersecurity protections.
Overall, data centers are designed to ensure maximum uptime by mitigating risks and, in the event that something does go wrong, providing system continuity. Data centers employ redundancy measures such as N+1, which means having at least one independent back-up for every physical component. For operators running chains of data centers, they will often run back-up systems in different locations to guard against the risk of catastrophic damage at one facility, and will regularly back-up systems data from one location to another so there is always a safe, secure replica of all services to ensure continuity.
Access to cutting edge technology
From the very best server hardware available to the advanced virtualization solutions like VMWare and Kubernetes used to run cloud services, data centers give businesses access to technologies that they might otherwise struggle to afford to run directly themselves or else lack the technical expertise to make use of. When the data center operator decides it is time to upgrade and update its server infrastructure, end users automatically get the benefit of that step up to faster, more powerful hardware. With cloud services, software updates, patches and upgrades are all part of the deal.
In summary, managed data centers are booming because the services run from them take care of all the technical complexity associated with running IT infrastructure and simply hand businesses the tools and functions they need to operate effectively. They provide a model for IT system management that is not only more cost effective than businesses running everything themselves, it also delivers higher standards of technical support, security, resilience and access to the very best technologies available.
To find out more about the range of services M247 offers from our state-of-the-art data centers, contact us today.