Should your outsourced data center provider also be your IT services provider?

Should your outsourced data center (colocation) provider also be your IT services provider?

Your purchasing department would probably say yes. Your legal department might too. One throat to choke. They're looking at the problem from a vendor management perspective, and fewer vendors is better. Or is it?

Ask yourself these questions:

What if you love the data center facility but the quality of the IT services offered are marginal?

What if you already have vendors for specific IT services?

What if you prefer to choose best of breed vendors for specific projects and technical support?

What if your staff does most of the IT work?

Would it be more sensible to separate the choice of data center provider from the choice of IT services provider?

Most companies that choose wholesale data centers over self-built data centers make the decision based on the uptime they get per dollar spent. That's because these pure data centers, also known as wholesale colocation, concentrate on one thing: mission critical facilities. 99.995% uptime requires incredible attention to detail with hardened data center buildings, redundant power, cooling, telecom access, and data center regulatory compliance. But not all colocation providers are alike; data center reliability varies greatly based on the companies power, cooling, telecom systems, and compliance. If data center uptime is important, then the sensible approach would be to pick the best-designed facility for your needs.

Does it make sense to reject the best-fit data center facilities provider because they don't do router work, or AS/400 support, or eCommerce platform support? The answer could be yes. It depends on your organization's applications and your own staff's talent in supporting these business-specific applications and their platforms. When considering full-service providers, make sure that you understand the quality of the data center behind the provider's services. You have the option to pick your own wholesale colocation facility and require your vendors to support the hardware in your colocation space.

If you're purchasing rack space from a full-service provider, you may be paying too much for your colocation space. Especially if your provider maintains a large staff of IT Support Engineers. Bench time is expensive, and unless these Engineers are fully utilized, your rack space pays for part of the Engineers' wages. Make sure you consider competitive pricing from other colocation facilities. Data center pricing models are excellent indicators of what vendors value and how they handle their overhead.

Your outsource data center provider does not have to be your IT services provider. You have options. You can choose the best among data center vendors with a little homework.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.
Alex Carroll