The South African data centre market continues to grow significantly, each year, and corporates faced with challenges around cost savings, lack of facilities and streamlining their business operations often look to outsourcing as an attractive solution.
Outsourcing the operations and maintenance (O&M) function for data centres is another cost-effective way to ensure increased uptime, better capacity utilisation, auditable program standards, longer asset life and increased energy efficiency.
When considering cost savings, however, it is essential that organisations weigh up the costs associated with outsourcing, and compare those to the value of investing in their own data centres.
“You need to factor in changes in the cost of directly managing the data centre over time and compare that with the flexibility and pricing model of the outsourcing proposal. Armed with a network of 7,000 globally trained specialists, and 45 years of applied experience, Schneider Electric South Africa’s operational expertise and maintenance processes may be able to extend the life of your cooling infrastructure, for example, presenting significant cost savings,” says Riaan de Leeuw, VP of Schneider Electric’s IT division in the Anglophone Africa region.
When considering an outsourcing partner, corporates should choose a provider who welcomes input from you regarding efficient planning, from service requirement roadmaps to budget forecasts. It is also imperative that the outsourcing partner either provide or leverage existing tools and systems that allow for the free and open flow of information regarding data centre operations performance.
“With Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure and Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software, we are able to analyse energy use and spend, and track carbon, water, waste and other environmental footprints. Through DCIM, we offer customers a reduction in energy costs while monitoring, measuring and optimising their Data Centre’s performance. DCIM can also facilitate the exchange and analysis of data from energy, lighting, fire safety and HVAC, and monitor any networked physical infrastructure device in the data centre.
DCIM software also allows for instant fault notifications of critical infrastructure events and generates user-defined reports and graphs. This helps to reduce unplanned outages and manage power loading, balancing and distribution efficiency.
Increased security and business risk can also be a significant barrier to the decision to outsource, but de Leeuw says that this is one of the most straightforward concerns for an experienced provider to address.
“Schneider Electric ensures secure data processing and storage within the cloud engine. Protected by state-of-the-art firewalls, the network is configured only to allow access from specific sources, and only a limited set of authorised personnel have access through multi-factor authentication,” he says.
Lastly, service providers should offer service level agreements (SLAs) that are consistent with your level of tolerance for brand risk.
“If a data centre event that is within the service provider’s scope of control is impacting your customers, the provider must be at least as responsive and capable as your team in addressing and correcting the issue. SLAs should stipulate response times and service level requirements to ensure the proper response to these events. As Schneider Electric, we work alongside our customers, from the initial assessment through facility operations and maintenance; we are there to ensure that the data centre remains available, efficient, and safe throughout its life cycle.”