Information Technology is an essential part of any business today, from the small computer behind a coffee shop counter to the several computers at the head office of an insurance agency. Almost every business starts off with just a few computers which usually have multiple roles, perhaps the most common being file sharing, serving databases, and being used as an office workstation. This however changes as business grows and soon enough it becomes a complex array of systems and devices. One way to simplify the management of IT is to move it to a Data Centre. I will go over the pros and cons of doing so.
First I want to cover the alternative of moving to a Data Centre, which is essentially the most common approach to start managing IT when it becomes complex; an in-house IT department. Usually consisting of just one person, an in-house IT department takes care of managing your IT infrastructure. This can prove efficient in the short term but in the long run can be costly as well as risky.
Advantages and benefits
The main advantage of moving your IT infrastructure to a Data Centre is peace of mind since you don’t need to worry about the equipment and can focus more on the productivity of your business. By locating your IT infrastructure in a Data Centre you inherit the same level of service and reliability that the facility has to offer, including a controlled environment which ensures that your equipment runs at the ideal temperature and humidity levels, as well as uninterrupted power and guaranteed uptime.
With a Data Centre you have access to professional IT people who can assist you with anything you may need, and who can provide a level of expertise that is not easy to find elsewhere, also at a fraction of the cost of employing people with same skills.
Another advantage is the freeing up of space in your premises that you can easily assign to other functions. You are also free to change premises without having to worry about downtime, damages, expenses and other problems related to moving your IT infrastructure with you.
Having your IT infrastructure in a Data Centre also gives you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, as long as you have access to an internet connection.
Disadvantages and challenges
Depending on the size and importance of your IT infrastructure, the major disadvantage could be the cost of moving to a Data Centre. When you locate your equipment in a Data Centre you are renting out the physical space, which usually comes at a fixed rate, but you are also paying for services such support, maintenance and network connectivity or usage. At first glance the cost may seem to outweigh the benefits but one needs to assess all aspects prior to making the decision.
When you move your IT infrastructure to a Data Centre, you are usually exporting sensitive data with it. Your business intelligence is located outside your premises so you need to take extra care not to make it inadvertently available to third parties. In the event that you are also outsourcing the management of your infrastructure to the Data Centre staff you might also want to bind them with a non-disclosure agreement to ensure an extra layer of protection for your data.
As with any other thing in life, moving your IT infrastructure to a Data Centre has its pros and cons. So how should you decide whether or not to move your IT infrastructure? Having your IT Infrastructure entrusted to professionals who are available on a 24x7 basis, along with all the other benefits will definitely outweigh the cons, especially when realising that such a move will allow you to focus more of your time on the productivity of your business whilst at the same time having peace of mind that your data and your information is safe.
Mark Bishop is the head of the Alert eBusiness Data Centre.