Finding the Sweet Spot for Your Data Center
DuPont Fabros Technology’s massive data center campus in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo: DFT)

Finding the Sweet Spot for Your Data Center

Which scenario is right for your company? Whatever makes the most sense for the business,

There’s certainly no shortage of options for expanding data center capacity these days. You can renovate an existing facility or add a modular unit onsite or offsite, build one from scratch, lease data center space, or move non-critical data and applications off your servers and into a cloud … and just about any combination of the above.

Which scenario is right for your company? Whatever makes the most sense for the business, said HPE’s Laura Cunningham during her Data Center World session, “Finding the Sweet Spot for Your Data Center.”

So, it’s imperative to know the future direction and financial preferences of your company before meeting face-to-face with a CIO, CEO or CFO to ask approval for any IT project.

“What IT people don’t always get is that everyone in the company is asking for money, so you better make a good case," she said.

Cunningham offered examples that illustrate why Ford, Netflix and most financial firms choose and/or chose their specific strategy to meet core business needs.

In anticipation of the deluge of data expected to be created by new connections between automobiles and technology, Ford is building a $200 million data center in Flat Rock Michigan.

The company has the luxury of embarking on project that can take up to two years to complete. Most importantly, Ford is very motivated to boost the $5.4 trillion in revenue the transportation services market adds to the company’s coffers annually.

On the other hand, when Netflix moved from a snail mail-based DVD rental model to providing an online streaming service, it opted to get rid of most of its data centers and move 100 percent of its customer-facing business to the cloud and became a customer of Amazon Web Services. The company clearly needed a faster turnaround time than Ford, said Cunningham. Plus, its servers are spread across the country, ensuring the shortest connections to customers.

Finally, Cunningham addressed how financial companies—especially investment firms—are clamoring to lease or buy data center space as close to the NYSE Euronext data center in Mahwah, New Jersey, as possible. Because the ability to make spit-second stock trades or get market-moving news before their competitors are key to their success.

“So, they’re willing to pay millions and millions of dollars. It’s that important to them,” she said.

When it comes time to start building your case, keep in mind that, “What’s most important to your company is what’s most important to you.”

Is time a factor? Will a certain location affect the business negatively or positively? What makes sense from a funding standpoint? Does your company treat data centers as an OpEx or CapEx expense? If latency is a key factor, how would you propose to keep it as low as possible?

By knowing the answers to those questions before heading into the boardroom, then making decisions based on business needs, you’ll be that much closer to gaining approval from corporate.

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