That's a significant shift in mindset from years past, when the largest companies tended to keep data center development in-house. "We see a lot of people looking at [colocation providers] and third-party data center service providers who wouldn't have before," Stansberry says. "These are people who traditionally have run their own data centers, but that's shifting pretty rapidly."
Even companies such as Google and Yahoo, which are known for building their own cutting-edge data centers, are supplementing in-house development with third-party providers including Equinix, which specializes in network-neutral data centers and interconnection services.
"They'll come to Equinix for the network hubs when they need low latency and access to multiple networks," says Mark Adams, chief development officer at Equinix. "We're a critical component in many of the major content companies' architecture and infrastructure."
Other reasons large enterprises are considering third-party providers include the high cost of constructing a private data center and the continuing lack of enterprise capex funds. In addition, the colocation market has matured, and enterprises are more comfortable handing over non-core, engineering-heavy construction tasks to data center providers that specialize in that kind of work. "There weren't that many colocation providers five years ago that could provide enterprise-class data centers for a financial organization," Stansberry says.
Certifications by the Uptime Institute, which offers a tier system that ranks data centers according to their expected levels of uptime and availability, show evidence of the trend. In the last couple of years, certifications for colocation and third-party providers' facilities have jumped significantly, and today account for roughly 50% of the certifications Uptime conducts, according to Stansberry.
Another trend catching on is containerized data center capacity. In the Digital Realty survey, 41% of respondents reported plans to use a containerized module as part of their expansions. Uptime Institute notes a similar uptick, though not as drastic. "About 10% of our market said that they have deployed modular, prefabricated data centers, and another 8% said they're planning to," Stansberry says.
The managed data center services the enterprises are tapping "run the gamut from somebody just building a raised floor and handing you a key to the building, to something as specific as cages in a site that's fully staffed," Stansberry notes.