Data Center Build or Buy: Factors to Consider

Decisions made in the design and build stages will not only affect the total CapEx of the data center, but will forever impact its energy efficiency and long term operating costs, as well as limiting the functional life of the data center. Below are a few excerpts from the Data Center Knowledge Executive Guide on Data Center Build vs Buy.

Many studies have shown that energy costs are now the largest expense related to operating a data center. In fact, in older, less efficient data centers, the energy costs for a typical server exceed the cost of the server over its typical three-year operational life. A new building offers the greatest opportunities to incorporate the latest sustainable and energy saving LEED building practices, as well as installing the most efficient power and cooling systems. Designing and building for energy efficiency is no longer a political nicety to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to social responsibility; it is an operational necessity in this constrained economy.

Concerns over ultimate control and responsibility for the data center are valid issues and should be weighed carefully. One of the advantages of owning and operating your own data center is complete control of all aspects of your site. However, it should be considered cautiously against the ongoing cost and responsibility of maintaining the properly trained facilities personnel required to support all the various critical systems on a 7×24 basis. Moreover, should an emergency occur, such as the failure of a major system, it is likely that a larger provider can draw upon a bigger pool of skilled support personnel to expedite.

Here are a few questions to ask when deciding to build or buy your next data center.

It should be part of the build vs. buy analysis to investigate a number of “buy” options that are offered in today’s market by a wide array of facility providers to lease and operate fully managed sites. While there are a multitude of factors to be considered, in the end you will have to ask if building, owning and operating your own data center is a strategic advantage to your business, or just a burden on internal resources and capital, perhaps best to be outsourced to a qualified external organization. This fundamental question should help you make the ultimate decision, by closely examining your core business goals and the best use of key internal resources in your own organization.

To read all articles in the Data Center Knowledge Executive Series on Data Center Build or Buy click here. Or, you can download the complete Data Center Knowledge – Data Center Build vs Buy PDF, which includes all the articles in the series plus additional sidebars and analysis, compliments of Digital Realty Trust. The next guide in the Executive Series will look at Data Center Total Cost of Ownership, due out next month.

Julius Neudorfer is the CTO and founder of North American Access Technologies, Inc. and writes for Data Center Knowledge on issues and strategies relevant to senior business executives.

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  1. Julius, as usual a well written article on whether to build or buy data center capacity. It is a complex question and there isn't an answer for 100% of companies. However, the vast majority of businesses shouldn't build their own facilities anymore. This recent blog of mine gives some additional thoughts on the matter