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Whether you call it Software as a Service (SaaS), Managed Service Provider (MSP) or On-Demand Services, your organization uses the service running “in the cloud”. This blog will discuss these services, their benefits, drawbacks and operations. Are we biased? Yes. We believe that some services make sense for most organizations. Email security is one of those. However as Mark Twain said, “All generalizations are false, even this one.” Each Tuesday we will post information and questions about Software as a Service. Occasionally, we will have a "Guest Post" from either a consultant or vendor posting her/his thoughts on Managed Services generally as well as some degree of specificity based on her/his unique perspective. We encourage your insights, comments and feedback. Welcome.

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Can SaaS Help You “Greenify” Your Data Center?


You’ve heard the pronouncement: We need to Go Green! Whether it came from a CxO coming back from a golf outing with his/her leprechaun buddies or from a more serious source, Going Green is a concept worthy of serious consideration. My advice? Yes, take all the steps that make sense for your business. This post is specifically on how SaaS may be some of those steps in your data center. In fact, you may find that looking at SaaS as an alternative to on-premises solutions has your seeing green anyway.

You have seen some of the recommendations on how to “Greenify”. Some are workable and some are straight out of Scott Adam’s “pointy haired boss” in the Dilbert cartoon series: “Turn off the servers at night to save electricity.” (I kid you not.)

You’ve probably been moving to blade or virtual servers to consolidate services on fewer boxes anyway. That is certainly steps to reduce the data center’s carbon footprint. But, some of those new blade racks consume their share of power and demand more cooling. At some point, you can’t reduce the carbon footprint of your data center any further without reducing services. Or can you?

Can you delegate some of the services to a Managed Service or SaaS provider and get them out of your data center altogether? What would that look like? What processes could you delegate without losing security or processing power?

Here are some suggestions.

Website hosting and DNS — You are probably not doing your own DNS resolution so, you are already using a managed service there. Some organizations may be doing their own website hosting at least at a COLO. That’s two services you don’t need to host on one of your servers. Perhaps, you haven’t thought of these steps as using a SaaS but, they are.

Email and web security — That perimeter appliance that just handles email security or web filtering. Can that be securely handled by a SaaS? Perhaps, even the email itself? How about the email archives? Could you move the web security to a SaaS and not have to go to a larger firewall appliance?

Backup services — Do you need on-premises dedicated backup servers? Can the backup process be securely handled by an online service? We’ll be discussing the benefits of Online backups in our next post.

Application delivery — Some large vendors now offer both workgroup application and data storage as a SaaS. Could that work for your organization? Would using browser based applications storage eliminate the need for an on-site server?

Business Intelligence — You can now have your inventory and order tracking handled by a SaaS provider. Retailers such as REI, Anchor Blue, Car Toys & Zones have eliminated the need for on-premises BI servers and software. They have seen financial benefits while eliminating servers in their data center.

So, should everything be off-loaded to a SaaS and eliminate the data center altogether? For a few organizations, that makes both economic and technical sense. For most no, not yet. In Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch (read our review post ) he says that it will take 40-50 years for the largest corporate data centers to disappear.

There are more items to consider in the rush to Greenify.

  • What will be the net cost of the move? No sense spending a dollar to save a nickel.
  • How long will it take to make the move?
  • How much of a disruption to business will the move be?
  • Can you be in a favorable “Carbon Credits” position for the move?
  • Will “Going Green” bring you business?

Clearly, anything a company can do to reduce energy consumption is a good idea. There are a lot of things an IT department can do in this effort. Delegating some services to a SaaS or managed service can eliminate some power consuming and heat generating servers in the data center. Going Green may also gain the organization status in their industry and provide a greater financial reward through better services at reduced overhead. That’s another “Green” we can all appreciate.

What are your thoughts? Have you Gone Green? Contemplating it? Got or need advice? Let us know.

Next Post: On-line Backups — Pros & Cons


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