Key Considerations for Houston Data Center Clients: 3 Kilowatts to 15 Megawatts

Skybox Houston One True 2N Dedicated Electrical & Mechanical Infrastructure

The Houston data center landscape is booming and innovating. However, there are still key considerations every organization encounters when selecting the right data center for their IT needs. Whether you need 3kW or 15MW, explore this list before selecting a data center.

We like to talk about innovation a lot at Skybox Datacenters. What company doesn’t? It’s what sets the leaders apart from the rest of the pack. But with all our focus on industry-leading technology like immersion cooling, we sometimes fail to address some of the common questions Houston business owners have about data centers. Questions like…

  • Why can’t I just store my data on-site?
  • Is our business big enough for a data center? 
  • Are all data centers the same?
  • Can I buy my own power?
  • How much do colocation services cost?

There’s no short answer to any of these questions, which is why we’re dedicating some space to this discussion. Getting back to the basics can help customers see why data centers aren’t just for enterprise-level companies. It can also help customers understand why some of the building specifications and technologies employed in Skybox’s data centers make a meaningful difference. 

Although many people are confused when you say the word data center, these aren’t new and no “the cloud” isn’t in the sky. Data centers have been around since the early days of computers and are simply locations where computers and networking equipment is housed in a centralized way for more efficient collecting, processing, storing, distributing data and cooling of servers. And yes, many large enterprise companies were early adopters and have owned or rented hundreds of thousands of square feet for their servers and network equipment. But it doesn’t mean small and mid-sized companies can’t also take advantage of these colocation services. 

Traditionally, Houston hasn’t been viewed as a primary market for colocation services, mostly due to a limited number of data center partners capable of providing mission critical low-latency, high-density compute. However, as the city continues to invest in booming industries like medical tech and energy exploration (further driving compute densities unattainable in traditional buildings) the number of data center options has grown to match market demand. These right-sized, third-party solutions provide many benefits that are explored below.

Why can’t I just store my data on-site? 

Plenty of big companies—like Google and Facebook—save a lot of money hosting their data on-site.  These groups have defined the term hyperscale for a reason. Data centers are a core component to their business and their sheer size yields economies of scale compared to renting from a third-party operator. Other businesses who opt for on-site facilities do so because of security requirements or lack of outside facilities in the area, something Houston companies don’t have to worry about with growing access to facilities like Skybox.

So, if you’re an enterprise needing to house your IT hardware, why shouldn’t you build your own space? For the same reason you shouldn’t self-diagnose yourself or others after a few swipes through WebMD.  Building, owning, and maintaining a data center simply is not a core focus of your business or that of a typical landlord.  

When it comes to data resiliency, your office could have faulty power or mechanical infrastructure reliability due to improper maintenance. You could simply run out of power and cooling capacity for servers as your business grows.  And as we consciously monitor the bottom line, you could even end up paying exorbitant utility bills because your business or landlord doesn't get the same discounted rate as some data centers do. 

Third-party providers have experience in site selection, space for expansion, and, in many cases, exclusive contracts with local utility companies. Off-site data centers also have routine maintenance schedules and advanced security offerings. Additional network, physical security, and purpose built redundancy keep your company’s and your customers’ information safe from data breaches, power outages, and are designed to withstand natural disasters. 

Skybox purpose-built security features include:

·       5’ berms around the property

·       Ameristar II Montage Security fence

·       6” concrete roof deck (that can withstand 190 mph winds)

·       Redundant power feeds encased in concrete duct banks (2N, N+1, N)

·       Ballistics-rated exterior windows

·       96 hours of backup fuel (per 10,000 SF data hall)

Our first Houston data center is powered by two diverse substations with feeds reliably delivered underground to, and within, the campus via dual concrete-encased duct banks.

Even if your company currently has a data center, it might not be equipped to handle the load demands or environmental threats of today’s computing environment. Many existing on-site centers might be facing end of life challenges that didn’t exist when the center was commissioned. Gartner Research VP Dave Cappuccio said the analyst firm expects 80 percent of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centers by 2025, versus just 10 percent today.

Is our business big enough for a data center?

If your company deals with any sort of digital records or files, your data mustbe stored somewhere. Even if you operate in a hybrid cloud-based environment, like many users in Houston, the need for local physical data storage still remains paramount for low-latency compute. 

Skybox works with small, medium, and large enterprise customers; those ranging from a single cabinet to private caged suites to fully dedicated data halls. This means regardless of your size; you can fully utilize our premium facility—including disaster recovery and business continuity office space—for any of your IT compute needs. 

  • Locked Cabinets
  • Dedicated Cages
  • Private Suites
  • Full Data Halls
  • Private Suites, Offices, Cubes

Most data center services are agile and scalable, so even if you need only a small portion of data center space on Day 1, you can always add as you grow, which isn’t always possible at an on-site facility. At Houston One alone, the current finished space is 100,000 square feet—but can be expanded up to 150,000 in Skybox Houston I with an identical 150,000SF slated for Skybox Houston Two. 

For enterprise users seeking dedicated space they can benefit from Skybox’s flexible data hall configurations featuring dedicated electrical/mechanical infrastructure per hall. Skybox can support uniform or hybrid data center topologies at server rack densities up to 800 watts per square foot. 

Other benefits of colocation services for small to mid-sized companies? You can rely on data centers for predictable monthly costs, helping you set and stick to an IT budget. Also, if you have several locations across a large geographic space, you can diversify server storage and keep redundant systems near each of your physical offices, boosting speed and accessibility. 

Third-party colocation also reduces your need to hire and maintain a large IT staff to install equipment or manage power and connectivity issues. We aren’t implying you simply eliminate your IT staff, just better focus these resources on the day to day initiatives that make your company money. As noted by Colm Keegan, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, “You’ll always need in-house employeeswho work with third-party providers to provide visibility into operations, insight into new initiatives, and checking for inefficiencies.

Still questioning if your Houston-based company needs a third-party data center? Check out this list of local sectors that use data center services. 

Houston Industries Using Data Centers:

·       Oil and Gas Exploration and Refinement

·       Medical Research and Health Care

·       High Technology

·       International Import and Export

·       Government 

·       Education

·       Banking and Finance

·       Manufacturing and Distribution

Are all Houston data centers the same?

No. All data centers are not created equal. Site selection (outside 100 & 500 year flood plain), access to robust power, and low latency connectivity are just a few that set one site above another.  Our Houston data center and all our facilities are purpose built to provide you with more flexible, reliable, and accessible service.

See what makes Skybox Data Centers different. 

https://vimeo.com/180460321

How much do colocation services cost?

The answer to this question depends on your size and specific needs. Rental costs and energy costs will be the biggest components of a third-party quote. It's important to consider that the price of building out your own facility will far exceed monthly and yearly data center fees. Your own facility will take time and manpower, not to mention the added cost of the operations, maintenance, additional security, property taxes, insurance, etc. 

We would love to learn about your needs and provide you with a custom quote