Beware the pitfalls of hosting your own systems

In believing they are seeking security and cost-savings, the temptation for businesses to host and manage their own in-house server systems and applications is alluring.  However, this is a fantasy, as Paratus Zambia MD, Marius van Vuuren explains: “In the race to keep up with digital transformation, some companies rush their decision to do everything on their own.  The resulting in-house solution is then invariably fraught with frustrations and one that also becomes increasingly more expensive over time, often because they have not considered the ongoing operational and maintenance costs involved.

Paratus invested heavily in its new state-of-the-art data center (DC) in Lusaka, which opened in October 2021, which is one of four DCs owned and managed by the Paratus group in southern Africa. Having made substantial investment in this infrastructure, Paratus, which knows first-hand just how complex the technical and financial considerations are, offers this advice to companies currently assessing how to plan for and handle their digital future.

Planning and Location

Planning and designing a DC can take years. The DC’s location should be in a strategic location with adequate power, security, and accessibility.

Building and Maintenance Costs

The cost of building a resilient 4 to 12 cabinet facility (with power, cooling, fire suppression, access control, security, environmental monitoring and alerting) is between US$300k and US$800k, excluding server hardware or applications.

Every component within the DC needs to be built with resilience, so that that if any one component should fail, there is always a back-up.  As all systems need to be maintained concurrently (ie with no downtime) everything has to be in duplicate, thereby doubling the cost.

Paratus estimates maintenance to cost from US$420k to US$1 120 000 over five years, for a facility of 4 to 12 cabinets (excluding personnel expenses required to manage the facility).

Capex Requirements

To provide ICT services to the various departments of a company, server systems with attached storage are required. Since singular systems do not offer good protection, and therefore a second or backup system is compulsory, this adds to the capital expenditure. Onsite backup also poses an ongoing risk. To construct a future-fail proof server environment, the cost is around US$ 25k–50k, depending upon the size and applications. This would then need to be replaced every three to five years due to the lifespan of the hardware.

Cost savings in using an established DC

In brief, sharing the cost of power, cooling, security, monitoring, maintenance, staff, and the facility demonstrates considerable cost savings that will be achieved in hosting at an existing data center facility. The bonus, above the cost saving, is having the expertise onsite 24/7.  The potential loss of business due to risk associated with insecure back-up systems is incalculable.

Van Vuuren concludes: “There is no merit in spending thousands of dollars on building, managing, and maintaining your own DC when the services you require are already available. Also, by hosting at the Paratus Zambia DC, for example, we take the load off and a company’s IT personnel are then free to focus on users and business systems, and on helping to meet the company’s digital growth goals.”