Most global organisations have "too many data centres in too many countries", according to analyst Gartner, and that in order to cut costs and optimise service delivery, they only need two data centres on each continent they operate in.
Gartner analyst Rakesh Kumar said many firms had too many data centres as a result of business expansion, either organically or through acquisitions over many years.
Kumar said, "Having too many data centres results in excessive capital and operational costs, an overly complex architecture and, in many cases, a lack of business-IT agility."
Gartner said many companies have stated that having too many data centres inhibits their ability to respond quickly to business changes. This is because of too many organisational layers signing off on decisions, and because solutions designed for one data centre may have to be completely re-designed for another site.
Because of the significant costs involved - often hundreds of millions of dollars - and the possible savings through a more streamlined architecture, Gartner said there is a huge financial incentive to change the topology to that of a dual data centre system.
For most organisations, said the analyst, the adoption of such a toplogy would mean two sites each for North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region.
Although many global organisations will typically own all of the sites, in some cases it makes sense to use a hosted site that provides the physical building, power and cooling, while the global organisation owns the IT assets.
This has been the case for many organisations entering regions such as India and China, said Gartner. In other cases, a service management contract may be appropriate, where no assets are owned and a third party will provide IT services through two data centres in a region.
"The twin data centre topology provides many benefits, such as allowing for an adequate level of disaster recovery. This can be through an active/active configuration where each data centre splits the production and development work and can fail over the load to the other site in the event of a disaster," said Kumar.
"However, this pre-supposes a synchronous copy of data and, so, a physical separation of about 60 to 100 miles. This may be too risky for certain industries, such as banking and government security, and so a third site may be required," he added.
Gartner will be hosting data centre conferences later this year in Las Vegas and London to discuss its recommendations in greater detail.