data center services

What are data center services?

Data center services provide all the supporting components necessary to the proper operation of a data center. They include all activities associated with data center implementation, maintenance and operation and involve hardware, software, processes and personnel.

Data center services are responsible for providing IT organizations with data backup and recovery, networking, website hosting, data management and more. Because some data centers are hosted on the cloud, data center infrastructure management can also be used as a service for the same requirements. Managed service provider (MSP) and colocation services provide these cloud data center services.

Who uses data center services?

Data center services are provided and used across all segments of data center operations, ensuring the smooth functioning of an organization's IT infrastructure. Various teams or departments use these services to manage and support the data center environment. IT teams that use and provide data center services include the following:

  • IT operations. This group is responsible for day-to-day monitoring of the data center environment, including server maintenance, network management and systems administration.
  • Networking. This team manages an organization's networking equipment and network infrastructure, including routers, switches, firewalls and load balancers.
  • Applications. These IT pros are responsible for deploying and maintaining enterprise applications, such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and business intelligence.
  • Security. This group establishes and enforces access control policies, data center security monitoring and incident response procedures among other security and cybersecurity policies and procedures.
  • Storage. This team manages an organization's data storage infrastructure, including storage area networks, network-attached storage systems and backup systems.
  • Databases. These IT professionals maintain the database infrastructure, ensuring proper data management and availability.
  • Cloud. This group manages all cloud infrastructure, including public, private and hybrid clouds used for various apps and workloads.

Why are data center services important?

Without data center services, a data center facility is unlikely to perform optimally. Users could have difficulty getting the results they want from the systems and devices they use, and the company likely won't perform at its best and experience unwanted disruptions, outages and downtime.

Considering how much organizations depend on IT and data center services, the provision of best-in-class data center services is a goal all IT organizations should strive to achieve.

Examples of data center services

There are many different types of data center services. Some of the more important, mission-critical ones are the following:

  • Hardware installation and maintenance.
  • Managed power distribution.
  • Website management.
  • Backup power systems and uninterruptible power supplies.
  • Data, system and network security management.
  • Network service and connectivity management.
  • Data storage, backup and archiving.
  • Managed load balancing to increase uptime.
  • Optimized internet access.
  • Email and messaging services.
  • User authentication and access management.
  • Perimeter security, including firewalls and virus, malware and ransomware prevention programs.
  • Outsourcing and colocation of data center services.
  • Coordination with cloud service providers (CSPs), MSPs and colocation facilities.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity services.
  • Technical support.
  • Regulatory and standards compliance.

Data center services work across the enterprise

Some data center services are available to employees across an organization. These can be provided on a self-service, on-demand basis. There is often a chargeback of these IT services to the requesting departments. Each type of data center service is implemented and used in a specific way. Some of the more common ones are the following:

  • Help desk. Help desk services are perhaps the most widely used data center service. They provide the interface between IT and company employees. Once a service request ticket is established, various data center services can be provided. These include testing, installing, upgrading systems, connecting devices to the network, training, reactivating user accounts and resetting user passwords.
    A diagram of the help desk event management process
    How the help desk workflow for event management works when using help desk software
  • Engineering and design. Large IT organizations have engineering and design teams to help take ideas from concept to reality. These professionals also serve as technical consultants and advisors when a particularly challenging issue arises. They can be key players in digital transformation and automation initiatives.
  • Research and development (R&D). R&D teams typically partner with engineering and design teams to learn what new technologies and strategies apply to the organization. They also work with business units that look for ways to improve their customer service. R&D is typically part of teams to introduce new platforms to the organization and optimize existing ones.
  • Technical support and consulting. The data center can provide consulting services to business units that need help figuring out how to improve service, obtain better results from a specific application or add resiliency to existing systems. Often, consulting services are provided by technical support teams drawn from the ranks of the IT department.
  • Employee training. Training teaches employees how to operate computing devices, network connections, virtual private networks and other technical activities. Training is often coordinated with human resources departments as part of employee onboarding.
  • Financial support services. When IT staff assist with designing or upgrading the data center, they can provide guidance on leasing or capital expense activities to an organization's finance department.

What is data center as a service?

When an organization outgrows its existing on-premises data center and needs additional infrastructure, it can opt for a data center as a service (DCaaS) offering to obtain the needed services. CSPs, MSPs and colocation facilities provide these services.

Each of the third-party providers bundles hardware, software, network services, rack space, technical support and other resources into a monthly payment. The DCaaS providers handle all operational issues. They coordinate with the client if the added resources must interface with the existing data center.

How to select the right data center service provider

When using a third-party DCaaS provider, organizations need to select one that best matches their needs and budget. The following steps can help identify a suitable third-party vendor:

  1. Establish a team to handle the project.
  2. Secure approval from senior IT management and company management to move forward.
  3. Assess the current environment, and compare its performance to current and anticipated demands. It's important that business requirements form the basis of any changes to a data center.
  4. Perform a risk assessment to identify factors that could negatively impact the project's success.
  5. Develop estimates of what additional data center resources, like processing, power, data storage and networking, are needed.
  6. Prepare a request for information that delineates the short-, medium- and long-term requirements.
  7. Identify suitably qualified candidates from among cloud computing vendors, MSPs and colocation services.
  8. Submit the request for information, and review the responses, which may shed light on an effective way to address the requirements. It may be that a phased approach is the best plan, and vendor candidates should be able to easily scale their services to serve the needs in each phase.
  9. Once a short list of candidates is identified, prepare and submit a request for proposal.
  10. Determine which financial proposal makes the most sense and if the available budget is sufficient.
  11. Interview existing customers of the various vendors to gain insight into each vendor.
  12. Ensure that service-level agreements are acceptable to the vendors, and carefully read SLAs and contract documents the vendors provide.
  13. Prepare an analysis of the proposals with a recommendation to management for approval of a vendor.
  14. Once a candidate has been selected and approved, develop a project plan to deliver the new services.

Many more steps follow in the course of planning, implementing, testing, accepting and maintaining the new services involved in a modernization effort.

Learn how the adoption of generative artificial intelligence in the modern data center is likely to change the way data center services are provided and used.

This was last updated in March 2024

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