Are organizations over-engineering their data centers?

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The mass adoption of off-premise computing and the increasing complexity of technology products and systems have given rise to new risks to business functions in the event of a data center, network or infrastructure failure.

The stakes have never been higher. According to RightScale’s “2018 State of the Cloud” report, 81 percent of enterprise organizations have a multi-cloud strategy, with an average of five cloud environments per company. Usage has increased year over year as well: companies reported running 79 percent of their workloads in the cloud.

With such incredible off-premise computing momentum, the potential impact of a wide-spread outage from a major data center provider grows daily. Enterprises are acutely aware of how outages could impact their mission-critical data – security was listed as a major concern for 77 percent of cloud users in RightScale’s report.

Understandably, data center owners and operators have placed resiliency at the top of their priorities and turn to third-party certifiers to help address the most common root causes of outages, including human error, software issues, network downtime, and hardware failure with a corresponding failure of high availability architecture.

However, there are limited offerings for data center operators to get a holistic audit of all factors that contribute to the resiliency of their services. We’ve been hearing directly from providers that existing offerings have not kept up with the pace of change in the industry. Incumbent programs will sometimes require a facility to be unnecessarily over-engineered. It’s not cost effective, and takes the focus away from what truly matters to enterprise users: security and reliability.

Data center providers have historically faced potential over-engineering at several phases of the certification process, from the early design of their facility to the adoption of emerging technologies. Here are three challenges your data center may be facing due to an antiquated certification program.

A big challenge rears its head early in the design phase of a data center. Some programs offer initial certification reviews based on specs or design plans, but lack additional checks once the data center has been constructed. Typically, the design plans do not completely reflect the final constructed center, resulting in gaps in the certification.

This raises questions about the value of certifying a design without a site survey. If providers change their strategy, technology or other elements of their data center to accommodate new types of customers, they might not have a certification program that scales with them. Customers who are selecting a data center then are unsure how their facilities have been evaluated, and operators are forced to incur additional costs for more reviews.

In the operational phase of data centers, utility support requirements have been another common driver of over-engineering faced by cloud data centers pursuing certification. Providers have been beholden to installing continuous power generation in order to comply with most data center certification programs – resulting in millions of incurred dollars. This requirement discouraged the cloud computing industry, which relies on emergency generators, from recognizing data center certification programs.

Finally, as efficiency continues to be a priority for providers across the board, new methods for decreasing facility footprints have become popular. Portable, modular data centers have emerged as a solution to high operating costs. These new types of centers offer numerous benefits to operators and customers alike, including responsive scalability. But, certifications that accommodate these types of centers have been slow to emerge, and reviews based on outdated technologies do not provide an accurate picture of a data center’s operations, and hinder customer evaluations when trying to choose a provider equipped to handle their resiliency requirements.

The data center industry will continue to face massive change as it keeps pace with IT developments. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to have a certification program that not only helps data centers employ emerging technologies at the rate they need to stay competitive, but also provides an end-to-end evaluation of every critical component from the fire safety of the facility to the servers themselves. With a better map to today’s needs, data center owners and operators can spare themselves from over-engineering their facilities.

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