data center as a service (DCaaS)

Contributor(s): Stephen J. Bigelow

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 or cooling, lack of physical space, lack of capital, lack of experienced IT staff or other factors. 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.

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.

This was last updated in November 2011

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