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How Much Is My Server Room Worth?

Jul 12, 2013

How much is your Server Room Worth?

Redundancy and the value of your in-house data

Way in the back of your office--beyond the marketing mavens and chipper CEOs--is a room of servers. There might be a few 4U servers in a closet,  a handful of database servers in a larger space, or even an entire room with “racks on racks”. Most businesses will have a dedicated space for server equipment, and no matter the size, the overall value of the information can far outweigh the actual costs of the server hardware. Think of it in these terms; how valuable do you consider your “big data”, and what precautions are you undertaking to protect the information?

Redundancy is one common method and is typically associated with the concept of Disaster Recovery (DR). In fact, a slew of cloud and hosting providers now tout DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) as a selling point for their solutions. But for the smaller-scale SMBs that utilize an in-house data closet, in-house redundancy can be difficult to produce. In-house redundancy may involve the use of vacant servers and equipment that receives copies of all data transmissions and related information. While this is an important concept to consider for your servers, keep in mind that the duplicate purchases (of identical equipment for failover) can be a costly expense. Remember that  the costs of data loss/leakage (depending on your business size) can be astronomical. Check out these words about data losses from David M. Smith of Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and Management:

“The final cost to be accounted for in a data loss episode is the value of the lost data if the data cannot be retrieved. As noted earlier, this outcome occurs in approximately 17 percent of data loss incidents. The value of the lost data varies widely depending on the incident and, most critically, on the amount of data lost. In some cases the data may be re-keyed in a short period of time, a result that would translate to a relatively low cost of the lost data. In other cases, the value of the lost data may take hundreds of man-hours over several weeks to recover or reconstruct. Such prolonged effort could cost a company thousands, even potentially millions, of dollars.[12] Although it is difficult to precisely measure the intrinsic value of data, and the value of different types of data varies, several sources in the computer literature suggest that the value of 100 megabytes of data is valued at approximately $1 million, translating to $10,000 for each MB of lost data.[13] Using this figure, and assuming the average data loss incident results in 2 megabytes of lost data, one can calculate that such a loss would cost $20,000. Factoring in the 17 percent probability that the incident would result in permanent data loss, one can further predict that each such data loss would result in a $3,400 expected cost.”

And with that said, the cost of redundancy (or rescuing data after a failure or disaster) can be difficult to calculate when you consider the man-hours associated with the recovery. As an aside, big data has come under the spotlight recently as a overused buzzword, and the divide between useful data and well, just data, is a difficult line to draw. Marketers in particular are faced with this problem, and sorting through the mountains of data can be both cumbersome and useful. Some consider "big data" to be overrated, in that the finding of useful information within piles of useless data can be time intensive and wasteful. Regardless, the value of an endless data pool is difficult to calculate (depending on business size and application), but is significant, and ultimately the consequences of lost data aren’t to be ignored. Protect your data, use redundancy, and seek out other methods of reliability and sustainability for your priceless server rooms and closets.

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