Sooner or later, every growing organization must make a choice regarding its data management and IT infrastructure. Will it build out an expensive on-premises facility or turn to more flexible solutions like server colocation or cloud computing? While the latter two options are often thought of as mutually exclusive, moving to a colocation facility opens up a variety of cloud computing choices that aren’t otherwise available to companies trying to build out their own data solutions. One of the most interesting options is hybrid cloud computing, which combines many aspects of colocation services and cloud computing platforms.
Making the decision to shift operations to the cloud is only the first step in a much longer process. An organization must then determine what kind of cloud meets its specific needs. For some companies, especially smaller businesses, a public cloud provider is an ideal solution, offering easy access, scalability, and tremendous flexibility. While a public cloud doesn’t give them much control over their IT infrastructure and requires them to entrust their data with a third party vendor, these may not be significant concerns for a small company that simply needs a cloud platform to provide its services.
For larger organizations with more sensitive data or proprietary data assets, the lack of direct control over their infrastructure is a dealbreaker. They need high levels of visibility and security when it comes to their data, especially in cases where a data breach could lead to a costly compliance violation. These companies need the total control of a private cloud, usually one that’s implemented using their own colocated equipment or through a virtualized server in a software-defined data center (SDDC). However, private clouds lack the scalability and versatility of the public cloud. Even if the company wants to use public cloud platforms, their private system isn’t connected to them, making it difficult to make practical use of their data without building their own custom platforms at great expense.
Fortunately, carrier-neutral colocation data centers offer a unique solution to this problem. These facilities have extensive connectivity options that make it possible for customers to build a variety of cloud data center architectures. One example of this is a hybrid cloud architecture. A hybrid cloud sweeps aside the outdated “cloud computing vs data center” argument by delivering the best of both worlds.
A hybrid cloud model combines the flexibility and scalability of a public cloud with the security and control of a private cloud. This arrangement makes it possible to build a highly customized data solution that meets an organization’s complex compliance needs while still giving them the ability to get the most utility out of their data. Hybrid cloud providers utilize a series of direct cross-connects in a data center environment to extend a company’s private cloud into a secure portion of a cloud platform’s public platform. The deployment allows data to move freely from one part of the hybrid cloud model to another with little difficulty while enjoying the same level of security and visibility throughout the process.
Creating the right hybrid cloud model to meet a company’s computing needs requires a carrier-neutral data center environment with extensive connectivity options. A quality colocation facility should be able to provide access to a wide range of cloud service providers. Once an organization has identified which one they need, hybrid cloud providers can use cross-connect cables to create a direct connection between the company’s servers and the cloud platform’s servers. These connections are highly secure since they allow the company to bypass the public internet. They are also incredibly fast because a direct connection minimizes latency concerns created by distance.
Although the public and private portions of the cloud overlap, data can still be stored securely in the private cloud until it needs to be used. This not only allows customers to keep track of where their data is at all times and limit who has access to it, but also gives them total control over where that data goes when it needs to be used in a public cloud environment. For organizations that make extensive use of predictive analytics and AI-driven algorithms that require the scalable power of cloud computing, controlling the flow of data into these platforms is absolutely crucial.
As an example of how a data center might implement a hybrid cloud model, it’s worth taking a closer look at Microsoft’s Azure ExpressRoute service. Available in a number of data center markets, ExpressRoute was launched in 2014 to provide companies with a direct connection to Microsoft’s cloud services. This connection is highly secure because it bypasses the public internet, directly connecting either physical or virtualized servers to the Azure platform.
For all intents and purposes, ExpressRoute extends a company’s private cloud into Microsoft’s highly secure servers. Since the connection is direct, it also avoids the “last mile” cabling problems that so often introduce latency into a network. The integration between the two environments is all but seamless, delivering better performance and high levels of service uptime. For a company that relies upon Microsoft’s versatile and powerful Azure platform, hybrid cloud computing via ExpressRoute offers a secure, efficient, and incredibly reliable means of connecting to the service.
Carrier-neutral colocation data centers provide their customers with a world of connectivity options, allowing them to build the network architecture best suited for pushing their business to the next level. For many companies, hybrid cloud computing provides unparalleled flexibility and control. Whether they’re using a specialized service like Azure ExpressRoute or simply leveraging the data center cloud computing options available to them, organizations don’t have to settle for a purely public or purely private cloud and all the limitations that come with them. Hybrid cloud computing truly allows them to get the best of both worlds.