Grow your data center with colocation

It's quicker and a lot less expensive than building your own

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Outer limits

Most organizations begin thinking about adding a data center as soon as their existing facility starts maxing out its physical space and/or support resources, Stadtmueller says. "Once you see you're beginning to run out of space, run out of server capacity, [or] when you're looking to add or upgrade an application, that's when you begin to look outside."

Sometimes the push comes in the form of a business need -- a new direction that requires a lot of extra capacity ASAP, or enough that it would push your existing data center over the edge of its existing power usage, for instance. Power is usually the gating factor in many older data centers these days, meaning that enterprises run out of power options long before they run out of space.

For a number of organizations, the idea of building out a second site often arises from a desire to create, enhance or save costs on an enterprise business continuity strategy. "With our new site, we really wanted to improve on the response time from any kind of a failure," Burch says. Kemet was also looking for a way to escape a costly relationship with a disaster recovery (DR) services provider, he adds.

Analysis showed that the new facility would trim recovery time from 72 hours or more to a range of five minutes to 18 hours, depending on the system category. The annualized cost of the new facility would be about the same as continuing the current DR contract.

Given all that evidence, Burch decided to go with colo. And in addition to the DR features, now the company has "a modern test and development environment with a three-year refresh cycle," Burch says. "Basically, we got a new data center with new equipment and communications lines with zero change in budget.

"One month after go-live on the new data center we conducted a test recovery of the systems previously covered under our DR contract," Burch explains. "We recovered all of the target systems in less than 10 hours." He notes that the dramatic improvement over the previous recovery target of 72 hours or more included "normal delays from recovering on new equipment in a new location and using new procedures."

To maximize the new data center's business continuity value, Burch and his team decided to place a significant amount of distance between the new facility and Kemet's headquarters. "We felt like we had to go at least 100 miles away to avoid the types of disasters that lead to electrical substation problems -- large storms, those sorts of things," Burch says. The team ultimately fudged a little bit on its distance mandate and settled on a Columbia, S.C., location, some 90 miles away.

Beyond business continuity, Burch says the new data center was designed to fulfill another key goal: to provide a test and development center that would operate independently of the main facility. "Probably 95% of the hardware that's down there is being used for test and development instances of our applications," Burch says. "In the event of a disaster, it will just automatically convert from that role into running our production systems."

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