When it comes to choosing a direction for burgeoning data center needs, many companies decide to keep it in house. Instead of outsourcing, they elect to manage their own servers and infrastructure. For many enterprises, like banks, it's often due to security concerns. Corporations may already have infrastructure and space available while others may be driven by perceived cost benefits. However, few companies are likely to consider the potential conflicts that can arise from enterprise data centers.
Unlike a managed hosting environment, where data center energy, infrastructure, security and performance are handled by a dedicated operating team and the enterprise's IT team takes care of the in-house technology needs, a corporate data center could be a site of potential internecine problems. These businesses are likely to have two departments that have control over aspects of the data center – the data center operational and infrastructure overseers as well as a separate facilities department. The facilities management functions with the business' overall energy, space and budget in mind, meaning that their interests could end up butting heads with data center employees' objectives. Facilities management could restrict electricity usage or put updating wiring infrastructure on the back burner.
In a recent interview with the Data Center Journal, Jeff Klaus, general manager of data center solutions at Intel, spoke to industry concerns about competing data center directives causing conflict within enterprises, and the detrimental consequences that such sustained behavior could cause. Often, he said, different enterprise divisions simply aren't on the same page.
"In the data center, the tension has definitely ratcheted up to the point where it is creating toxic conflicts," Klaus said. "IT and facilities seem to continually push up against each other, especially when they are given opposing objectives. In some companies, IT is pressured to deliver more services while facilities teams are being told to skinny down allocations and stretch finite resources over a growing base of users."
Ongoing conflicts can create particular problems for data center finance, as further data center development is hamstrung by budgetary concerns. Organizations that don't do their data center research are at risk of trying to blend competing facilities, IT operations and end user interests without fostering the kind of working environment and shared language that promote an open dialogue and an understanding of each side's challenges and expertise.
Why businesses need to do their data center research
Research shows evidence of financial losses directly stemming from an organization's inability to maximize their data center investments to optimize their core business needs. A global study of IT decision makers by data center provider Brocade found that 61 percent of data center workers said that their corporate networks were not fully compatible with their data center requirements. In addition, 41 percent said that network downtime resulting from such unsuitable conditions had contributed to financial losses.
"In the data center, the only certainty is uncertainty or change," Klaus told the Journal. "The rapid pace of change shows no signs of diminishing. That means that companies need to define their functional teams to maximize agility. For some that might mean combining IT and facilities, especially if a major site or data center transformation is on the horizon. For others, it might mean that IT and facilities should have the freedom to work independently."