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Inward Investment Guides

Critical Partnering of IT and RE in Business Continuity Planning

Sean Ivery, Senior Director, Data Center Advisory Group, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. (Fall 2011)
Our increasingly data-driven world has positioned fail-safe business continuity as an absolute priority across industry sectors. And when it comes to facilities planning, nowhere is the merging of a corporation's real estate and IT departments more evident - or more necessary.

The amount of computing capacity needed to maintain service, consistency, and recoverability is growing. Companies of all sizes are faced with decisions about how they will manage their data - including whether they should house it internally, build their own data centers, or lease wholesale or collocation space.

Leasing can be a favorable option financially and operationally for some companies. Data center developers and operators are providing more options today than ever before. Established players like Digital Realty Trust, CoreSite, DuPont Fabros, Equinix, and others offer portfolios that can accommodate clients with diverse requirements in multiple markets, including Europe and Asia. Simply put, the data center industry has grown up. These companies are skilled at working with large corporate clients. They are Sarbanes-Oxley compliant. They have strict security codes. They are auditable. As such, companies have become much more comfortable handing over their data needs to thirdparty providers.

Still, businesses must examine a myriad of factors when choosing the right solution. Among many other considerations, they need to look at which business units the data center will serve, which applications will be involved, whether those applications will be latency sensitive, and whether the location of the data center is acceptable in terms of general network and Internet reliability. In this respect, data center planning is largely an IT responsibility.

At the same time, cost of power, incentives, and sustainability measures - traditional site selection considerations - are critical variables that fall firmly on the real estate side. Finding the right location for a data center goes well beyond locating an industrial building with heavy power. Corporate real estate departments and their service providers bring expertise in finding the right type and right amount of space in the best location.

Logically, then, the lead for planning and executing data center strategy should be and typically is shared between these two key departments. For real estate service providers like Cushman & Wakefield, this has necessitated an understanding of how IT departments operate, how they procure services, and what drives their requirements.

The learning curve may be steep, but it is a requisite to effectively service clients on this type of project. Ultimately, gaining insight into the objectives and needs of both the IT and real estate sides is the first step to crafting the best data center solution in this rapidly evolving, diversified arena.

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