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The Great (Data Center) Debate: Buy Vs Build?

When considering colocating your data center, first you must understand your technical needs and requirements. Successful colocation requires planning and due diligence.1 This is accomplished via synthesizing current as well as future facility requirements, which also encompass audit requirements, security, redundancy, and server profiles. Gathering this critical data ensures that you are able to contract with a facility that meets your requirements and delivers the services you need to support the growth of your organization.

Determining Your True Cost of Ownership (TCO)

A data center is one of the most expensive pieces of any organization. It is vital to everyday operations from maintaining your Virtual Private Network (VPN) to data storage and backup. Costs typically affect multiple departments from IT / Networking to Facilities and Building Management. Colocating within a data center may offer efficiency in your resiliency process by offering a turn key location for your equipment, redundant of power and environmental systems and lowered costs for power and cooling due to the shared cost of all clients. Building a custom location may also provide the proper location for your equipment and help to support staff productivity and department growth.

“Other significant costs must also be included, such as architectural and engineering fees, interest during the construction phase, land, inert gas fire suppression costs, IT build-out costs for racks, cabling, internal routers and switches, point-of-presence connections, external networking and communications fees, electricity costs, security costs, and operations and maintenance costs for both IT and facilities.” Uptime Institute

Defining the total cost of owning your own data center “on premise” versus maintaining your infrastructure “off premise” is crucial to moving your IT plans forward. Approaching the design of this equation will permit the most logical decision for your organization to buy (lease) or build data center facilities.

The Build

Independent Construction

Customer has to address and manage many factors that add to the overall timeline of the project’s execution. Included below are some of the logical benchmarks that an organization should address prior to beginning the construction phase of a project.


  • Design to permit standards

  • Design to industry standards

  • Design to environmental standards

  • Design to audit standards

  • Construction execution

  • Construction change orders

  • Construction commissioning

  • PUE and DCIE continuous measurements


  • Locate fiber providers within proximity of build location

  • Negotiate fiber builds to site (primary and redundant/diverse pathways)

  • Negotiate access to high levels of bandwidth for current need as well as growth

  • Negotiations of additional fiber builds for diversity with additional providers


Developing and implementing metrics for success with a data center build can be costly.

Keeping in mind the day to day operations and support the growth of the company. It can be difficult to develop and implement industry audit requirements and standards while also balancing the labor and focus on day to day operations.

  • Balance imperative IT needs, regular duties and standard definitions

  • Maintain budget for operational infrastructure as well as construction budgets

  • Maintain audit standards for operations and construction

  • Labor + materials = $$$

  • Create and maintain flexibility to support IT growth or consolidation

  • Continue the permitting and contracting process for upgrades or decommissioning

  • Maintain engineering standards for the transformation of business

  • Define standards for growing or shrinking footprints between facilities and IT staff

The Buy- "Off Premise" Colocation Facility

Choosing to co-locate at a data center facility off-site ensures your equipment and data are in the most reliable, secure type of facility and eliminates the need to build out.


In a single tenant data center, all of the costs of the space, power, and environmental infrastructure are absorbed by the user. A colocation service provider allows its clients to share in the lower fixed costs of facility management, maintenance, security and costs of infrastructure.a center, all of the costs of the space, power, and environmental infrastructure are absorbed by the user.

  • Existing infrastructure, ready for move-in

  • Existing Raised Floors

  • Existing Redundant Power

  • Existing Fire Protection

  • Existing Cooling & Environmental Systems

  • Alleviates construction contracting concerns

  • Allows time to be allocated to other critical items

  • Regulatory Compliance to meet your needs


A Carrier Owned facility offers:

  • One service provider for your inter-connectivity

  • A Privately Held facility may be carrier neutral

  • Retain your current contract or

  • Select your preferred provider from multiple offerings

  • Multiple Fiber Vendors

  • Connectivity Diversity = Optimal Traffic Routing & Lower Access Costs

ABILITY TO SCALE • Grow or shrink your footprint pursuant to lease terms • Support the growth of the company • Create and maintain flexibility to support IT growth or consolidation •Contract or cancel Power Provisioning & Connectivity upgrades as business changes • Facilitate Business Continuity Solutions between premises • Define standards for growing or shrinking footprints between facilities & IT staff


Support in defining your business needs to match compliance and fiscal needs can be provided in your colocation facility!

  • Utilize your Colocation Provider’s Business Continuity Testing & Consulting

  • Utilize your Colocation Provider’s On-site Training Facilities & Meeting Spaces


For many organizations the thought of outsourcing their data center brings two main concerns:


Enterprise level data centers offer a level of security and privacy to meet state and national standards based on the industries we serve. (Healthcare, Financial, Government, etc…)


All data security falls solely on the customer.

Including staffing, surveillance systems, access points and audit trails.


24x7 Uniformed security, full video surveillance. Badged access and bio metric security to all areas within the building. Physical access is monitored and audit reports can be provided upon request.


Physically touching your equipment is often not required to implement changes, such as program installation, maintenance or back-ups. You will have to manage more than just your servers should you choose to have a data center space within your own facility, from electrical installations and cabling to the high maintenance climate controlling systems that keep your IT equipment functioning.


Provide your own staffing. Provide system maintenance for the location. Pay on-going operating costs.

ON-SITE SUPPORT — COLOCATION FACILITY (BUY) On site electricians, On site maintenance engineers and On site system engineers

7 x 24 x 365 security personnel

Though many data centers in the marketing place are only offering managed services as their entry level service, data center offers basic colocation services (redundant, climate controlled, secure technical space) that suits small to mid-sized organization’s needs. An organization may purchase power, rack space, and connectivity while all the administration of equipment is done by you or your chosen vendors.

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