Information technology outsourcing reduces data center energy draw

Outsourcing is a way to reduce hardware in the data center. The benefits will save you more than just space.

As energy costs climb, IT managers must grapple with increasing business demands while working on long-term goals to reduce data center energy consumption.

Data center operators have a growing suite of energy-saving initiatives that can reduce monthly operating expenses and even save precious capital in future technology refresh cycles. Beyond the data center lie outsourcing options.

Information technology outsourcing represents a shift in culture and the way that companies approach data center management in general, so this can be a more significant decision than updating hardware or virtualizing workloads.

Benefits include capital savings, lower administrative overhead and lower energy demands. The real challenge is to use information technology outsourcing in a way that is most effective for the business.

There's more than one way to approach outsourcing IT. Some businesses use servers and other computing resources provided by a third party through colocation, managed services or the public cloud. With colocation options like Data Center as a Service, a business rents or leases resources, meaning it needs less equipment in its own data center and can buy fewer new servers. A business that needs more computing is allocated more servers, storage or other resources -- and it pays the correspondingly higher monthly expenses.

When facilities are stretched too thin, other colocation services like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allow businesses to use their own servers and other equipment in third-party data center space. Even though the business may still own and manage remote equipment, IaaS reduces its data center energy and cooling requirements. As businesses' needs change, they can usually negotiate adjustments in resources and space with the colocation provider.

Public cloud computing is another information technology outsourcing option. Quickly accessing remote computing resources on demand allows businesses to run a workload for minutes or hours, and pay only for that use. Cloud computing is generally considered to be a true expression of "utility" computing.

Although outsourcing is now a well-established computing strategy for lowering equipment counts and conserving energy, it's important for businesses to consider the implications of outsourced workloads. For example, connectivity problems between the business and the provider can render outsourced workloads inaccessible, seriously disrupting operations. In addition, data security and regulatory compliance concerns may require mission-critical workloads to remain in-house. Look at outsourcing as one of any combination of options to meet energy-conservation goals.

This was first published in March 2014

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