Data center as a service (DCaaS) is the provision of offsite physical data center facilities and infrastructure to clients. Clients rent or lease access to the provider’s data center, using the servers, networking, storage and other computing resources owned by the DCaaS provider.
A DCaaS provider is typically engaged by a business that can no longer expand its own data center. This may be due to a lack of power, cooling, rack space, capital, bandwidth, experienced IT staff or other factors. A DCaaS provider can typically provide these services, tailored to the client’s need. DCaaS may also provide data management tools for incident and problem management security and server utilization and optimization.
By turning to a DCaaS provider, a client essentially outsources some portion (or perhaps all) of its data center to the provider. The client then accesses the provider’s computing resources remotely across a wide-area network (WAN).
For example, a business may choose to focus on maintaining a small number of mission-critical applications in-house. Rather than staff up or invest capital in additional computing hardware, the business will rent resources from a DCaaS provider to handle secondary or transient applications.
Advantages and disadvantages of DCaaS
Advantages of utilizing a DCaaS include the fact that a DCaaS can offer additional expansions for data centers that experience limitations. Additionally, IT workers utilizing a DCaaS can focus less on data center management and more on other needs. DCaaS products tend to have a pay-as-you-go model, so users only have to pay for what they use and can have the flexibility to ramp up or down the use of the DCaaS service.
Some of the biggest concerns with DCaaS providers involve availability and business continuity. For example, provider downtime or WAN disruptions can leave some applications unavailable. Even when availability is clearly defined by a service-level agreement (SLA), the implications of unexpected downtime should be considered carefully. DCaaS providers are also businesses, and they sometimes merge with other businesses, endure staffing issues, and occasionally go out of business, leaving clients with the challenge of recovering or restoring affected applications.
Two examples of DcaaS providers include IBM SoftLayer and Vault Networks. IBM SoftLayer provides automation tools with their service, but also allows customers to integrate their own tools in the SoftLayer API. SoftLayer also supports bare metal servers. Vault Networks is a DcaaS provider who provides a 99.999% network and facility uptime claim in their SLA. For additional security, Vault Networks uses an N+1 infrastructure.