A major trade-off to having an onsite data center versus storing your
hardware in a commercial-grade facility, is that you have to worry
about certain threats that can take out mission-critical systems. Some
of these threats are overlooked by IT managers, who end up having to
do some serious damage control or finding themselves scrambling for a
The following four threats have been the bane of many an on-site data
center. If you choose to build or stay on-premise, have a plan for
dealing with these:
Threat #1: Multi-tenant Hazards
Crowded office buildings are some of the worst places for data
centers, and any seasoned data center consultant will likely have
multiple horror stories to back this up. Flooded lavatories can wreak
havoc on data centers multiple floors beneath. Fires set by
neighboring businesses can set off wet fire-suppression systems that
fry infrastructure. Mice in the walls can chew up cords and
connections. These disruptions are beyond the control of the data
center owner, making extended downtime a constant threat.
Commercial-grade data centers insure against multi-tenant threats
either through specialized construction or by being built alone. For
shared construction, data center walls are often reinforced or have
gaps between adjacent tenant-offices. Also, the data centers install a
their own Non-destructive or “dry” fire suppression systems that will
not destroy electrical equipment.
Threat #2: Utilities
Often, what is going on outside an onsite data center is more
dangerous than what is inside. Many offices are just one
lightening-strike away from prolonged downtime. Even with safeguards
in place, a large-scale event like a hurricane can cause utility
outages for longer than most business can survive without technology.
Data centers, on the other hand, have multiple network access points
as well as backup generators for extended outages. So if wind blows
down a nearby utility pole, it will not cause a downtime for a data
center, since the facility has access to multiple carriers and can
generate its own electricity.
Threat #3: Security Risks
Standard office buildings are not built for commercial grade data
security. Drywall can be punched straight through by intruders,
standard do or locks can be manipulated, and monitoring is difficult.
There are many features in a commercial-grade data center that are
not practical to retrofit in onsite data center, such as 24/7
security, mantrap areas, and biometric scanners. The capital costs of
adding these features is so high that it often makes more financial
sense either to simply move the data center to colocation or to
shoulder the security risk.
Threat #4: Limited Scalability
Although not an immediate threat to data centers, space and equipment
constraints are roadblocks to growth. Volume spikes can leave data
center managers scrambling to supply the bandwidth, leading to
downtime and poor application performance. Scalability is a prime
benefit of data centers due to their easy access to compute and
storage resources, and spacious interiors.
Onsite data centers sometimes save money and time, but the trade-off
is reliability and security. Within your own walls, you are often
vulnerable to Acts of God, freak accidents, and internal intruders.
However, if you DO decide to stay onsite, there are at least four
main threats you should be prepared for. Keep your data backed up,
your DR plan tested and ready, and if your having second thoughts,
look into colocation options.
wondering where your critical data and hardware
belongs? Get our free eBook-- Everything You Need to
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