The City of Paris is opening its own municipal data center. Here’s why, and why it matters.
There was a time when all roads led to the cloud, at least as reported in the trade press. The data center was dead, we heard (but didn’t completely agree). Then there was a tempering of cloud expectations, with hybrid infrastructure gaining popularity. Are we now in something of a retreat?
It is against this backdrop that a decision by the City of Paris, France, to drop their data center provider and create a brand new, on-premises facility, captured attention.
Advantages of the Paris Facility
The reasoning behind the choice makes a lot of sense. For example, city officials pointed out:
- The data center contract had to be renegotiated every four years. If another provider turned out to be cheaper than the incumbent, Paris is required to move its servers, a time-consuming, risky, and expensive process.
- Officials are planning to spend at least 50 years in this data center, a lot of time over which to amortize the costs. They will also rent out space to other public organizations for more financial upside.
- Citizens want to know where their data is housed and are demanding better privacy and security, so wholly owned control of IT systems is a feature.
- The heat generated by the hardware will be captured and used to warm neighboring residential buildings, so there’s an environmental bonus, too.
Paris officials have accurately honed in on key cloud pros and cons, including the pesky issue of vendor lock-in. For them, the cost of shifting to a new data center provider was over $1 million each time. It’s difficult to imagine that many organizations without a legal mandate to use the lowest bidder would consistently make the move to more budget-friendly pastures. Instead, many companies endure repeated price hikes but can’t justify the cost of risks of relocating.
Important to note here, this blogger is by no means anti-cloud. Having been in the industry for some time, however, we are skeptical when any technology is hyped as the solution for every problem. Cloud does many great things, often easing the plight of SMBs, offering incredible elasticity, and even tackling environmental impacts with innovative concepts that would be hard for non-hyperscale companies to experiment with.
Still, there are times when on-premises works better. The cloud subscription model can steadily increase the costs of maintaining data. Security concerns, if not properly managed, have more troublesome implications under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And as more company facilities become the loci of high-volume data creation—think increasingly automated, IoT-laden factors, for example—there will be a push to the edge, siting even more IT hardware on more diverse premises.
Making On-Prem Work, Everywhere
Paris officials admit they are in an advantageous position, having the benefit of sufficient in-house expertise to build and manage a data center. For other municipalities, companies, and organizations, the IT talent gap might pose more problems, but there are alternatives to using solely in-house personnel.
Outsourcing key functions, such as server, storage, and networking equipment maintenance, provides access to additional engineering capabilities. Working with a high-quality provider also addresses another challenge not mentioned in the Paris article—proper management of IT assets. This also falls under the Park Place umbrella.
Sure, we manage spare parts depots worldwide and quickly dispatch field technicians to replace failed components, but our job is actually bigger than that:
- We help clients gain visibility into their IT assets and their day-to-day performance with ParkView, which also supplies proactive fault detection and triage to maximize uptime.
- We give insight unbiased by hardware sales interests to assist clients in determining what equipment can continue to do the job and where decommissioning and replacement should be considered.
- We help clients take back control of the hardware lifecycle, by providing affordable support for over 50,000 different products, ranging from newly post-warranty to long past end of support life (EOSL) with the manufacturer.
Making the most of existing IT hardware investments drives cost-efficiency in on-premises and colocation data centers—yes, often to the point where it beats out the cloud.
Those of us whose geekiness extends to space topics are excited that Paris will soon host the world’s premier aviation and space innovators at the International Paris Air Show. As the city rolls out the welcome mat for some high-end tech, the IT leadership can be proud they’re pushing their own field in new directions, even if it leads them back home.