My team want a Data Center, all of their friends have one

There’s a CTO that I meet up with occasionally when I’m in London, we discuss all sorts of different aspects of IT, I think we both really get a lot of of our discussions, I know that I do.

During the last one we were talking about the ‘Evolution of IT’ and more specifically how this is happening within his organisation and he told me about one of their IT groups that serves a growing part of their foreign business and I loved this comment that he made “My team want a Data Center, all of their friends have one”, this IT group have been growing and growing, investing in more and more equipment and have now reached an inflexion point…

Continue to invest in equipment and build a Data Center? or work out how to better utilise Service Providers to deliver services to them?

We discussed this at length, at NetApp we’ve been delivering huge efficiency for many years now so we talked about whether this could delay the need to build any Data centre right now, we all know how expensive building these kind of facilities is right? we also talked about the Data Centers’ that NetApp have built, such as the new Global Dynamic Engineering Lab we’ve just brought on line in RTP

But the more we chatted the more we got round to the idea of IT moving away from being an ‘Builder and Operator’ to becoming a ‘Broker of Services’ and more specifically how NetApp is enabling this through the 275+ partners that have built their infrastructures on NetApp and our strong partnerships with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. We can deploy NetApp Private Storage systems into colocation facilities with direct connects into AWS and Azure, for companies that want tap into their resources on demand, moving data is really difficult because its really big, a common data platform with ONTAP greatly simplifies this

More details here

NetApp Private Storage for AWS and NetApp Private Storage for Azure

and if you want to see this in action, check this out “SQL Server Cloud to Cloud Failover with NetApp Private Storage

This really appealed to him and became the most significant part of what we carried on discussing, however I couldn’t get his original comment out of my mind. This group of IT people in his company want a Data Center, now I can’t make assumptions as to whether this is the right thing for them to do or not, I’ve not met them and don’t know enough about their environment, but I couldn’t help but keep asking myself the question as to the real motivation of this group. A Data Center is a massive investment, sometimes this is the right thing to do, but to build one just because your IT has reached a scale where people somehow believe they are entitled to one and are getting excited about the prospect of having one just doesn’t feel right to me, it doesn’t feel connected to the business.

Technology and its ability to link companies to many different Service Providers is now a reality, choosing how to deploy a service is something that must be considered much more broadly than ever before, do we really want to do this ourselves? would it be better, faster, cheaper to have someone else deliver this service to us? are questions that have to be asked.

The technology is ready, the Service Providers are ready, the Clouds have been built and we have great technologies such as our Data ONTAP in order to connect them together, but how do we encourage a different way of thinking with our people. IT people like to build stuff, its why many of us got into IT in the first place, but businesses want a service, they want it as soon as possible and they want it at a low cost, building it yourself on many occasions will not be the right option.


  1. Your ‘friend’ needs a colocation provider, not a cloud service provider. The cloud service provider marketplace is very immature, with abusive Ts&Cs, inflated prices, and opaque (at best) service-delivery commitment. Colocation providers can give his internal IT staff the experience of owning a data center without putting his CFO through the trauma of actually owning one. Places like Sungard, Coresite, Equinix, QTS, ad infinitum, would love to give him a free tour at one of their facilities.

  2. Exactly right, Seymour. For many uses co-location is a great answer to the challenge Matt is talking about. A big win from that plan is that the user controls their environment as the want in the co-lo and can also attach to hyperscale cloud providers like AWS and Azure to tap into their tools and services too! The data owner gets the best of both worlds is what we envision. Your data, your cloud is our mantra and I absolutely agree co-location with great partners like Equinix and others is an important part of that plan.

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