11 april 2012

Want to build your own server room? Think again!

written by Pieter de Haer

Most companies with fifty or more employees have a data centre or server room containing all the company's servers and data. This room is often the company's pride and joy and the flashing lights on the impressive equipment deserve to be admired! For this reason, many a company's server room can be seen from the corridor, with some companies even shining blue spotlights on their 19” racks. How cool is that? Nevertheless, the days of the internal data centre are numbered.

Although server rooms can look impressive, on closer inspection they are too expensive, inflexible, difficult to scale up and insufficiently reliable. Nowadays, a cheaper and better alternative is available – leasing capacity at an external data centre.

The invisible costs of having your own server room

A server room costs a lot of money. The visible costs are related to the construction or renovation of the room, the installation of the power supply and air conditioning, and the purchase of servers. However, there are also many hidden costs involved that are not usually taken into account immediately. Electricity consumption is one example. Let's go through some calculations: An average server uses around 350 Watt continuously, which works out at around 250 kWh per month. The supporting systems, such as air conditioning, also use electricity. As the average server room is not set up very efficiently, it often uses just as much electricity as the server itself. Actual power consumption is therefore 500 kWh per month. The average number of servers in a company of 50 employees or more is 12.5. The total calculation is therefore 500 kWh * 12.5 servers * €0.12 per kWh = €750 per month. It's certainly something to take into consideration.

The size of your own server room

Are you currently facing the decision of whether or not to build a server room? You are likely to base its size on the expected growth of the server park in the next five years. However, there is a considerable chance that this growth will not be realised! As a result of developments like virtualisation and increased use of software that is rented from the cloud, server rooms will continuously decrease in size in future. In fact, they may even disappear altogether. There is a significant chance that you will be investing in a room that will be used less and less. Incidentally, a server room can quickly cover an area of 10 m². Based on a rental price of €130, this would cost €1,300 per year.

The alternative: rent space in an external data centre

As fibre glass connections and other broadband links are available at a low rate throughout virtually the whole of the Netherlands, leasing capacity from a data centre is a good and affordable alternative.

Leasing rack space in an external data centre offers a number of advantages. You only rent the space you need, which could be as little as a quarter rack, and thus enough for around ten servers. It is easy to expand or rent less space without having to make any investments. This solution is both scalable and flexible. In addition, the power supply and cooling systems are much more reliable as most data centres set up the different components to be redundant. An uptime of 100% is more often the rule than the exception. You no longer have to worry about trying to keep your servers cool in these tropical temperatures!

And the costs for electricity? They are often far lower than expected due to the highly efficient layout of the data centre and the use of state-of-the art cooling technology. Based on the above example, you could save more than €280 per month. Add this to the much lower risk of failure, high level of flexibility and greater space (or lower rent) in your own premises and draw your own conclusion.

This blog only deals with a few of the factors that could influence your decision of whether or not to outsource your server room. Previder can help you draw up a complete cost/benefit analysis.

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