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What data centre is right for you?

Data centre design and build: planning for the future

With the growing dependence on technology in the workplace, the data centre has become a vital component in the growth and success of the business.

The amount of data we gather continues to grow, and at some point we all consider upsizing or moving. So how do you make sure your data centre is right for you?

We speak to Matthew Gingell, Director at Colt Data Centre Services, to find out how the data centre has evolved, how design and build is changing and how businesses should plan their next strategic data centre move.

TechRadar Pro: How has the role of the data centre changed?

Matthew Gingell: The modern business has evolved to run on its data and the demands it makes on its data centre has evolved with it. Technologies such as cloud and virtualisation have transformed the operation of data centres.

Now every activity - from research and development to manufacturing and accounts – depends on data. As a result, the data centre has grown into the hub of the organisation.

To support the growing demands from businesses, data centres need to offer scalability and flexibility to deal with emerging technologies and tackle macro-economic variables such as rising energy costs, while also running in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner.

As a result, a fresh generation of data centres have surfaced offering state-of-the art, high quality and power efficient facilities that can be delivered in as little as four months. These are known as pre-fabricated or modular data centres.

Some can even flex to future requirements as the business changes. With the rate of change in the market it is no surprise that this new generation of data centres continue to grow in popularity.

TRP: With aging infrastructure, should businesses look to refurbish existing data centres or relocate?

MG: Now that the data centre had become a vital component in the growth and success of the business, this is certainly something worth asking. For a number of businesses, data centres are approaching the ten year old mark. In fact many go quite a bit beyond.

While these data centres may not quite be at the end of their lifecycle, they are not exactly at the peak of efficiency, or, their operational best- perhaps more risky.

Therefore, businesses need to thoroughly audit the data centre, the compute within it and the short, medium and even long term goals and needs of the business. Only with all of this information can a business decide on the right strategy.

There are plenty of short term steps that can be taken to improve the efficiency of a data centre which can have a significant impact.

Longer term and with a little more investment, refurbishment to some degree can improve operational costs, efficiency, and reliability. What we have found through our own work is that if the business decides to undertake the refurbishment, meticulous planning is key.

Cost control and deadline creep can be major issues, but none as impactful as the risk of downtime caused by carrying out refurbishment without shutting down the data centre – that's just not an option.

One thing is certain - a business cannot stand still and its data strategy needs to keep up. To decide whether refurbishing or relocating/outsourcing is the best option, organisations must first reassess their own capability and growing IT capacity needs.

An outsourced model would involve leasing or occupying space in a third party's facility, with varying degrees of management and control.

Some organisations may be reluctant to allow their data to be housed in a facility that they do not totally own or operate, but for others who view the data centre as a non-core competency to their business, they are usually prepared to allow a trusted third party to build and operate.