Twin Data Center Strategy Best for Businesses: Gartner

There is a huge financial incentive for businesses to change their current topology to that of a dual data center strategy, the report said.

In order for enterprises to save costs and optimize service delivery, they need a twin data center topology for each continent of major business activity, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

The report warned most global organizations have too many data centers in too many countries, and for many companies, having too many data centers inhibits their ability to respond quickly to business changes.

"It's a fact that most global organizations run too many data centers in too many countries. This is normally the result of business expansion, either organically or through acquisition over many years," Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "While the logic of business growth makes sense, having too many data centers results in excessive capital and operational costs, an overly complex architecture and, in many cases, a lack of business-IT agility."

For most organizations, it will mean two sites each for North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region, the report noted.

Because of the significant cost involved—Gartner estimates it could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars--and the possible savings through a more streamlined architecture, there is a huge financial incentive to change the topology to that of a dual data center.

"The twin data center topology provides many benefits, such as allowing for an adequate level of disaster recovery. This can be through an active/active configuration where each data center splits the production and development work and can fail over the load of the other site in the event of a disaster," Kumar said. "However, this presupposes a synchronous copy of data and, so, a physical separation of about 60 to 100 miles. This may be too risky for certain industries, such as banking and government security, and so a third site may be required."

The twin-site approach can also allow the central IT organization to better manage data center operations because the number of sites is limited and each is of a significant size, and so will be able to negotiate well with suppliers and attract good skills. In addition, the report noted the details of how the sites are owned and managed are important but should not be confused with topology of the data center architecture.

Further variations come about because the cost of changing from a multi-data center topology to a twin data center topology per major geography is too much, or the resulting cost structure actually does not justify the change, according to Gartner.

"While these variations are logical and need to be incorporated into the decision process, they should be viewed as exceptions to the ideal model of a twin data center topology per continent of major business activity, rather than an accepted IT expansion cost," Kumar said. "By adopting this dual center approach wherever possible, the whole growth strategy will incorporate a belief system that will help to create an optimum data center topology."