Are small in-house data centres on the way out?


Small to midsize companies are finding it increasingly difficult to justify the operating cost of running an in-house data centre as managed service offerings allow them to tap into enterprise class hosting efficiencies. By outsourcing their infrastructure, IT shops are also able to access the expertise of third-party providers. A recent InfoWorld article explored this trend, noting that managed service providers are expanding as organizations consolidate their their data centre operations.


“We are definitely seeing a trend away from in-house data centres toward external data centres, external provisioning,” Gartner analyst Jon Hardcastle told InfoWorld.


Many organizations have found that virtualization and cloud computing have reduced their need for in-house data centres, IDC analyst Rick Villars told InfoWorld. Larger firms and service providers are expanding data centre space and centralizing operations, making their data centres more efficient, and businesses are moving work to colocation facilities or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. It’s simply cheaper to rely on an expert provider to determine how to best manage a data centre environment.


Focusing on core competencies

One major reason it’s cheaper to outsource data centre operations is that doing so allows companies to focus more on core business areas, cloud executive Nitin Mishra wrote in a Data Center Knowledge column. Rather than trying to build a cutting-edge data centre, organizations can better align IT and business by narrowing their focus and reducing the number of operational areas they are trying to manage.


“Benefits not only include protection of IT infrastructure from technology obsolescence, but also allow maximum freedom and flexibility in daily IT operations, while simultaneously lowering their financial and operational overheads,” Mishra wrote.


One of the largest challenges to managing IT in-house is attracting and retaining the talent needed for implementing state-of-the-art solutions. Running a data centre requires a wide variety of highly specialized skills, and businesses may not be able to provide staff to cover each area. One insurance company CIO told InfoWorld that his company was managing around 18 different data centre technologies with about 65 employees, meaning that in many cases just one or two staffers knew how to run certain processes.


“That gave us a lot of concern long-term; we didn’t have the ability to hire backups for these technical platforms,” he said.


According to Hank Seader, managing principal of the Uptime Institute, finding the right people to run a data centre can be difficult. One IT manager InfoWorld spoke to noted that his staff has an average of 10 years of experience, but he acknowledged that it is easier to recruit because he works at a large firm with thousands of employees.


Today, service providers are often attracting the best talent in data centre management, InfoWorld reported. Working with a leading managed IT services firm such as FlexITy can help businesses access the talent they need to compete as they increasingly encounter challenges in staffing their data centres.