Well, that can really depend on who you are. If you are a very big company like Microsoft then you can afford to have your own data centres and you will probably have your own secure server room but for most businesses it makes economical sense to outsource.
Paul Lightfoot, Managed Services Director at The Bunker, explains how costly it can be keeping your data secure on site. He says, “If you put that system in your own building, you’ve got to have security around it, you’ve got to have the back up generators, you’ve got have the cooling, the power into the building and the people to look after it 24/7 potentially, that is a big cost and if you’re a publishing company or a payment gateway why would you want to have those headaches when you’re not a specialist.” Over the years the cost of the internet has decreased considerably while its reliability has increased which makes outsourcing the servers a more legitimate route to take.
Of course, if you are a large company then you can afford to have servers on site that are looked after securely. Sharp is one example. IT Systems Analyst, Andy Guyett, says, “In terms of security, local data provides localised access without the need for data to travel over a potentially open connection such as the internet. This removes one potential security ‘hole’. We have local control of where the data is stored and can limit the number of individuals who have physical access to the server locations.”
If you are not as big as Microsoft or Sharp then employing the services of a data centre such as The Bunker can be an incredibly smart move. By having enough clients they have the advantage of economy of scale creating a very secure site both physically and virtually. The starting price for having your servers located at a remote location can start from £10,000 – £12,000 a year, which would be significantly cheaper than employing a team of security guards and technicians on your own premises.
On top of this, The Bunker has two electricity supplies in case one breaks down, two generators if both mains supplies fail, uninterruptable power supplies (large banks of batteries) and back-up servers from another site in the unlikely scenario all prior safety measures fail. Also, being located in the hinterland, outside Sandwich in Kent, gives The Bunker that added security. Lightfoot says, “There is obviously a high risk in London with floods, terrorism, power shortage, tube strikes, the Olympics etc, all those things don’t exist out here.”
The Bunker also has certain accreditation that companies would find very hard to earn off their own back. For example, The Bunker has PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) which is needed if a business wants to receive online payment from a customer via debit or credit cards. Ray Welsh, Head of Sales and Marketing, explains, “It is a very prescribed standard, there are 12 requirements that break down into over 200 points and you have to pass each one. If you don’t you’re not supposed to be processing credit cards and you will be fined.” Surely then, for many new businesses it is much easier to automatically receive this accreditation by placing your servers in a place like The Bunker than go through the expensive rigmarole of earning them independently.
There is no doubt then that for most businesses it is far cheaper to outsource their data processing to secure, safe and reliable data centres but what does this mean for the IT manager as a vital member of any burgeoning company; will they become redundant?
Both Sharp and The Bunker seem to think not. Guyett says, “I believe there will always be a need for an IT Manager. The role will always be required to help drive innovation and direct the business in terms of infrastructure and technology. Even if a remote data-storage topology is adopted, there will always need to be someone leading the way forward for new ideas, methods and techniques for the business to function, otherwise there is a danger of stagnation and therefore being left behind.”
All it means is that the IT manager’s role will evolve. Welsh agrees, “They need IT to support the business, so instead of the IT managers being technicians working with servers they are able to do strategic business planning and become expert buyers of outsourced and cloud computing as a service.”
Reflecting, he adds, “The world is changing and people are adapting. IT skills are changing but that has always been the case.”