Building An Effective Data Center Strategy

Jun 21, 2022
Article by Sales Director Duke Aschan for online publication Cloud​scene​.com

In our technologically-driven world, data is king. As more employees work remotely and many day-to-day operations become virtual, companies are starting to prioritize network security and proficiency. Businesses are turning to data centers and colocation providers to help them adapt to this shift and operate more efficiently in an increasingly digitized marketplace.

atNorth is a Pan-Nordic data center (DC) company based in Iceland and Sweden that enables companies to kick start or improve their DC strategies. We sat down with Duke Aschan, Sales Director of atNorth Sweden, to discuss the importance of an effective and resilient data center strategy.

What is a Data Center Strategy, and Why is it Important?

Data center strategies serve as the foundation of an organization’s overall IT strategy. As Mr Aschan puts it, Think of it like a house. Before you start building it, you need to think about where you want to live (by the water, in the forest, in the city) , what you want to be close to (access to different amenities), how you want it to function, and what you want it to look like. Once you’ve established these things, you can start to put the house together and be confident that it’s going to fit in with your lifestyle. Building an IT and data center strategy is the same. You need to think about where your business is located, where your customers and employees live, and then locate your data center so that it meets those requirements and fill in the rest from there”.

Companies can cultivate an effective data center strategy by partnering with a data center or colocation provider that houses its data and aligns with its business goals. Data centers are physical buildings purpose-built to safely store and connect IT infrastructure. Colocation is a service offered by the data center where the provider hosts a company’s IT hardware outside of their place of business more securely and efficiently. In short, a data center is the building, and colocation is the service.

Although international communication is more accessible than ever, selecting a data center that geographically aligns with your business and customers will facilitate more reliable connections, which often means improving the service level. With this in mind, many organizations employ edge data centers to ensure that all of their customers receive the same level of service, regardless of their location. At the other end, best pricing and long-term sustainability can give you a permanent cost advantage and reliability.

Of course, data center strategies can vary significantly across industries. For example, a multinational retail store will need to set up several points of presence (PoPs) to ensure that each store has a reliable connection. Whereas an automotive manufacturer may establish it’s main data center near the primary assembly facility, but procure services for R&D (research and development) and other business support systems from auxiliary locations that offer lower prices.

Key Considerations

Because the data center and colocation industries are so diverse and expansive, it can be difficult for businesses to select a provider. As previously mentioned, location is a vital consideration when choosing a provider, but many other factors determine whether a vendor aligns with your business or not.

According to Mr Aschan, enterprises should evaluate the following before selecting a provider:

1. What are the overall objectives of your data center strategy?

For example, are you hoping to expand your business to a particular market? Improve connection speed for customers? Collect and analyze data more efficiently? Etc.

2. How are you funding the strategy?

Will the DC strategy be categorized as a one-off CAPEX expense to facilitate the success of a specific project or objective? Or will it be an ongoing OPEX cost that will fluctuate per changing business needs?

3. Is there a specific software or hardware that you’re hoping to use?

Often the time frames of a data center strategy are dictated by the lifespan of the hardware/​software a company uses. As IT equipment improves over time it often becomes smaller and more efficient, meaning it’ll take up less space in a data center.

These considerations are universal to any business looking to cultivate a data center strategy, however, the answers to these questions will vary depending on the industry.

Planning for Data Center Capacity

Once a company has outlined the objectives of their data center strategy, it can start to work with the provider to plan for its capacity requirements. When purchasing space in a data center it can be difficult to gauge exactly how much space you’re going to need.

According to Mr Aschan, This is the million-dollar question. Companies can generally predict how they’re going to operate and what they’re going to require over the next 6 months. Once we start thinking two or three years down the line things get tricky because technology is developing so rapidly. The key things to think about are 1) is your business expanding or contracting, and 2) what new technologies are coming online in your industry?”.

Another key factor to consider when predicting capacity is the impact of IoT (Internet of Things). Data is being produced at a rapid rate as a result of the number of devices and applications going online, and companies need to decide what they are going to do with that data. When selecting a DC provider, many businesses purchase more rack space than they currently need to allow for an expected influx of data that can be analyzed and applied to future business decisions.

By engaging the services of a third-party data center and colocation provider, businesses have the flexibility to adapt their strategies over time and scale up or down as requirements change.

Working with atNorth

atNorth offers customers innovative colocation and data center solutions that cater to their specific IT requirements and business objectives. For more information, get in touch with Duke today!

Duke Aschan | Sales Director, atNorth Sweden

Duke is the Swedish Sales Director. He joined atNorth in 2021 bringing 15+ years experience in sales. His previous roles include Sales Director at Digital Realty alongside experience as a private business owner in the electronics import industry.

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