The true cost of a datacentre

The Middle East has a reputation – sometimes deserved – for being attracted to all that is new and shiny, regardless of cost or practicality. And while datacentres are neither particularly new or shiny by objective standards, larger regional enterprises are rushing to build them. But is there really a business case for such a complex and expensive installation, or is the datacentre just a symptom of organisational vanity?

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By  Eliot Beer Published  June 4, 2007

|~||~||~|The Middle East has a reputation – sometimes deserved – for being attracted to all that is new and shiny, regardless of cost or practicality. And while datacentres are neither particularly new or shiny by objective standards, larger regional enterprises are rushing to build them. But is there really a business case for such a complex and expensive installation, or is the datacentre just a symptom of organisational vanity?

Consolidation is the aim behind a centre – put all the major IT and infrastructure components in one main hub, and the efficiencies role in. Space, power, cooling – and not least management – become easier to tackle with everything in one place. In theory.

In reality, a datacentre is such a complex beast that without adequate planning, it can potentially cause more problems than it solves. But high-level decision-makers will often give no thought to some of the finer aspects of actually deploying a datacentre.

Take cooling as just one example – something that was unlikely to have troubled a CEO’s mind when he decided that his enterprise absolutely needed a datacentre – or the CFO’s mind when he budgeted the project.

When dozens of servers, routers, switches, security appliances, UPS systems and the like are put into one room, the heat generated is enormous. Without adequate cooling, a datacentre will go into virtual meltdown even in colder countries – in an Arabian summer, the meltdown is more likely to be literal.

So throw some aircon units at the problem: not enough, the cold air isn’t going where it should. So bring some consultants in to make it flow correctly: ok, and now the datacentre needs to be completely redesigned. And moved to a bigger room.

Suddenly, the CFO cares a great deal about all these bills he’s being asked to sign off – air conditioning, consulting services, new racks, new room, specialist technicians, more consultants. Meanwhile the CEO is getting impatient – he wants his datacentre up and running, especially with the vast amounts of time and money that have gone into the project.

That’s cooling. Now imagine space, power, infrastructure, structural concerns, backup, disaster recovery, redundancy…

At the end of the day, it’s not the CEO’s job to care about cooling, or power – or any of the other technical issues related to the datacentre. But if decision-makers are demanding these highly-complex projects, they should have some idea what they’re letting the organisation in for.

While datacentre deployments in the Middle East may occasionally be vanity projects, there is a significant business case behind the principle – if it’s done right.

Next month, ACN will be launching a new section, dedicated to datacentres, and what high-level decision makers need to know about them.

We will be covering the critical aspects of datacentre deployments and the business cases behind them. Alongside opinion and advice from some of the world’s datacentre experts will be insight from business and IT professionals from around the region who have already gone through the datacentre process.

The section will give CEOs and CFOs some hard questions to ask of their IT staff – and will give the IT staff some of the answers as well.

If you or your organisation have been looking at deploying a datacentre, or have already taken the leap, we want to hear from you – let us know what your burning issues are, or what the pain-points were in your project.

Write to us at acn@itp.com. ||**||

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