Pros and cons of outsourcing your datacenter

The most recent Business Meets IT seminar earlier this month focused on datacenters, so naturally it caught our attention. Keynote speaker of the day was Luc Verbist, CIO of media concern De Persgroep. After a presentation of their own datacenters (2 fully redundant DC's with 4 cubes in total), he also shared his thoughts on internal versus external datacenters. Some of the arguments sound very familiar: if you need a 24x 7 operations, you will more likely outsource your datacenter. If you don't have enough critical mass, you will too. But the decision will also depend on other variables such as: the availability of skilled resources, building restrictions and regulations, and whether your company has an opex or capex strategy. There are many variables but more often than you's expect, you will be driven to the decision pro outsourcing.


Other thoughts worth mentioning: "Experienced project and maintenance teams as valuable as the product itself" (Serge Bogaerts from Cenaero) and "In the year 2000 only Walmart had 200 terabyte worth of data, nowadays any average company with over 1.000 employees already has more than 200 terabyte of data." (William Visterin, Smart business) And this evolution will only accelerate, so data centers and their suppliers can rest assured: there are challenging times ahead. Not challenging as in 'will we have enough business?' but as in: 'how will we manage to keep on growing faster and faster?' A challenge that we gladly accept and that we're already tackling today.

Outsourcing your datacenter saves enough electricity to power the city of Liege

I recently attended a conference devoted to the theme of energy-efficiency, organized by the Flemish research group Vito.
One presentation, by Dries De Vos, a member of the Vito research team, was particularly of interest. Based on a combination of internationally available data and Vito's own research, he came to some staggering conclusions:
- The entire amount of electricity needed to power all datacenters worldwide adds up to 272 TWH/year. that is three times the amount needed to power Belgium as a whole.
- The average PUE (power usage effectiveness) of all datacenters in the United States is 2,15. We have no exact figures available for Belgium or Flanders, but the PUE value would probably be about the same.
- The average PUE of internal datacenters in Flanders is 3. This implies that the average PUE of commercial external datacenters is far below 2.
- Outsourcing your datacenter to a commercial datacenter will lead to significant energy savings.

Conclusion: if all internal datacenters and server rooms were outsourced to efficiently managed external datacenters, this could lead to an energy saving of about 200 GWh/year, enough to power almost 60.000 families, equivalent to a city almost as big as Liege.
You don't have to take it from me, take it from a renowned research organisation.