Bruns-Pak: Datacenters vs. collocation vs. cloud computing

Should your enterprise own its data center? Would it be better to use the services of a hosting or collocation company? Does the emergence of cloud computing make this decision easier?
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

I recently visited the Edison, NJ headquarters of Bruns-Pak (BP) and had an interesting, fast-moving conversation with Mark Evanko, president and principal engineer, Paul Evanko, VP of sales and marketing, and several members of the team about how data center design has increased in importance over the years.

Given the emergence of cloud computing, big data/predictive analytics and the rapidly changing world of systems, storage and software, Bruns-Pak urges enterprises to evaluate carefully their options and understand the true costs involved with commissioning their own data centers, renting part of a collocation facility to house portions of their IT infrastructure, or outsourcing and acquiring the services of a cloud services provider.

Long history, amazing customer list

BP has a 35-year history of helping clients design, build and commission their own data centers and helping executives understand the different approaches available to them and the actual costs. Without knowing about the company's involvement, I actually have seen facilities they've designed, built and commissioned.

The company has an amazing list of successful engagements and its customer list reads like a who's who of IT suppliers and enterprises. It was quite fun to discuss the company's engagement with my former home, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), now part of HP. Mark Evanko showed me several "partner" business cards with different versions of the DEC logo and discussed a meeting he had with one of DEC's founders, Ken Olson. What a wonderful walk through history!

Trade offs to be considered

Although cloud computing appears to be all the rage at the moment, BP executives point out that the cloud is not always the right option. Let's review some of the options.

Owning your own

Owning and operating one's own data center might actually be the lowest cost option if the overall cost is considered. This approach, however, is not without its challenges. This approach requires the largest up-front investment as well as the need for the largest staff.

Using this approach makes it possible, however, for an enterprise to take advantage of the reduced costs produced by purchasing systems, storage, software, power and networking in bulk. It also offers the opportunity of potential tax advantages of owning real estate, buildings and the like.

Collocation and hosting

Collocation and hosting facilities offer some flexibility and can reduce the costs of some categories of staff-related costs. This might be the best option if one company works closely with another to offer a joint product or service. Both companies could extend their network to the same collocation facility and communicate safely and securely across the LAN in a single building.

Since the company has to pay for the use of the service provider's real estate, staff and other facilities, the facilities costs might be greater when taken as a whole.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing offers lower risk or a great way to start up a new product or service, but that comes at a cost too. This approach offers a great deal of flexibility -- turn it on when needed and turn it off when it is no longer needed. It drastically reduces the initial costs of an IT solution as well. It may actually be the highest cost option for long-term operations, however.

Snapshot analysis

Enterprises might be wise to engage a trusted advisor when navigating the waters of owning and operating their own data centers. It's not a simple decision. I would suggest that while there are many who would step up and say that they are the people to trust, including many systems, software and services providers, it would be wise to select a partner who understands all of the components of the facility and the software architectures supporting the enterprise workloads.

I'm glad I took the time to get to know Bruns-Pak better.

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