Businesses that want to get the most out of their IT should limit the number of datacentres to just two per continent, according to analyst house Gartner.

In general companies run more datacentres than they need to carry out their daily operations, Gartner has found, which can be damaging to their bottom line.

“It’s a fact that most global organisations run too many data centres in too many countries. This is normally the result of business expansion, either organically or through acquisition over many years,” said Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner in a statement.

“While the logic of business growth makes sense, 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.”

That lack of agility comes from duplicate layers of management having to sign off decisions in each datacentre and, in some cases from having to maintain different system architectures at each site.

Most global organisations should aim for two sites in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region, Gartner states. These sites could be run in-house or by a third party.

Having just two sites per continent simplifies management for IT teams, said Gartner’s Kumar, and, because each datacentre will necessarily be a significant size, gives the business bargaining power when negotiating with suppliers.

“The twin datacentre topology provides many benefits, such as allowing for an adequate level of disaster recovery. This can be through an active/active configuration where each datacentre splits the production and development work and can fail over the load of the other site in the event of a disaster.”

The model assumes the twin datacentres are separated by 60 to 100 miles to allow the synchronous copy of data between sites. This proximity may be too close for industries such as banking or secure government facilities, said Kumar, which may require a site further afield in case of a local catastrophe or for regulatory reasons, in which case a third site may be required.

Gartner acknowledges there will be cases where the cost of shifting from multiple datacentres to a twin site model will be too high relative to the benefits gained.

“While these variations are logical and need to be incorporated into the decision process, they should be viewed as exceptions to the ideal model of a twin data centre topology per continent of major business activity, rather than an accepted IT expansion cost,” said Mr Kumar.

A recent report from Gartner also found companies could be doing more to squeeze servers into existing datacentre space, rather than investing in new premises.