Aug 28 2023

What Is Data Center as a Service, and Why Are Organizations Adopting It for Their IT Infrastructure?

Different versions of DCaaS can meet the varied needs of organizations big and small, across industries.

Many organizations across numerous industries operate data centers to support their business operations. But most of these companies are not in the data center business.

They may be manufacturers or retailers, law firms or some other business, but their core mission is not to run a data center.

Further, as technology evolves, many organizations find it challenging to build out, operate and maintain the multiple technology elements needed for a data center that can support modern business applications. They need to hire and retain a team of IT professionals who can support a complex data center, which is increasingly more challenging as the IT industry faces a shortage of skilled workers.

To simplify this situation, many IT and organizational leaders are considering the option of Data Center as a Service (DCaaS), in which a third-party provider runs a data center — including servers, networking, storage and other computing resources — for a client, which operationalizes access to these resources.

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“It's really a paradigm shift for an organization and in terms of the support model,” says Derek Hay, a field CIO for CDW. “You're turning over the keys to someone else.”

In a DCaaS engagement, the provider delivers the technology resources a company needs to run its business. The provider may run the data center on the client’s premises or at its own colocation facility, but the resources are consumed as a service, offering more flexibility and scalability, and a more flexible cost structure. The provider manages the infrastructure, assuring uptime to an agreed-upon level, and maintains the operation so the client can use the resources as needed.

“The storage and compute are scalable and provided on a consumption basis. The monitoring, uptime, billing and even disposal of retired hardware are managed by the provider,” says Urban Haas, also a field CIO for CDW. “They handle the full lifecycle of the data center.”

LEARN MORE: Assess whether it is time for your organization to consider Data Center as a Service.

Organizations Are Opting for DCaaS for Several Reasons 

IT leaders who decide on a DCaaS engagement do so for a variety of reasons. These decisions are informed by an organization’s appetite for risk, the size and skill of its IT team, the accounting and funding model it prefers, architectural patterns, and its approach to real estate.

Often a DCaaS engagement will begin when an organization’s current data center equipment is at the end of its recommended life or when IT leaders are looking to expand data center operations.

One frequent motivation is to remove data center operation from the responsibilities of the IT team so it can focus on other priorities, such as tasks that drive revenue for the organization. “They’re looking for flexibility and wanting not to have to maintain technology — they want to have that off their plate,” Haas says. “They don’t want to do capacity planning and care and feeding of the data center.”

This is often a particularly attractive option for small businesses looking to mitigate their staffing risk, Hay says. If a small firm has one storage administrator who is in charge of maintaining its storage environment, having that person retire or leave for another employer would create a significant disruption. A DCaaS provider has multiple administrators on staff to handle this responsibility.

Core Benefits of DCaaS to Know

A DCaaS engagement gives an organization an entirely new way to approach its IT infrastructure. Perhaps the most significant is that data center operation is handled by the service provider, which has extensive expertise and personnel for this task. The provider carries out routine maintenance tasks that are often time-consuming but do little to drive value for the organization.

“Lifecycle management is the responsibility of the service provider,” Hay says. “The customer doesn’t have to patch the platform. They don't have to upgrade the platform.”

Many IT leaders also value the reporting a service provider can offer. These regular reports provide details on what resources are being consumed and how they are being used, giving the organization a deeper understanding of its IT operations.

EXPLORE: Read about how to find a backup as a service option to fit your business.

How to Get Started with DCaaS

Finding a DCaaS provider that can meet an organization’s unique needs is essential for a successful engagement. The first step, Haas says, is to carefully assess the organization’s needs and goals to get a deeper understanding of the data center’s capabilities in terms of performance and capacity.

UP NEXT: Find out how a data platform can balance business and consumer needs.

“We start by listening and seeking to understand their big why’s from a business standpoint,” he says. “Then we advise on alternatives and considerations based on our experience and partner relationship. We can co-design a comprehensive solution to align to their business needs and orchestrate the implementation of the solution in a way that meets their timing and operational risk appetite.”

Ultimately, each DCaaS engagement is unique, but each provides the customer organization with a data center that meets its infrastructure needs so you can focus resources on business rather than IT.

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