The prospect of reducing overhead costs and increasing infrastructure flexibility is leading many companies right out the doors of their own private data centers. The Uptime Institute’s 2017 Data Center Industry Survey reports that, while the majority of workloads still run in enterprise-owned data centers, 60% of companies have either discontinued or throttled back their investments. The question is, why are they doing this? Or, better yet, what alternatives are they seeking?
There are a variety of technical and business reasons why companies are transitioning away from owning their own data centers, and many of these reasons have become associated with the cloud. The advent of virtualized and cloud-based hosting solutions gives IT viable options for improving network speed and performance. Arguably, they also equip teams to deliver greater business value by helping reduce overhead and CapEx and enabling infrastructure scalability. Not to mention, operating a data center isn’t a core competency for many businesses, and cloud-based solutions certainly remove data center management tasks from internal IT talent’s to-do list.
But, if hosting infrastructure in cloud environments is so beneficial, why did Uptime’s study find that only 13% of IT assets are deployed in the cloud?
The truth is, the cloud offers a variety of technical and business benefits, but it isn’t the right fit for every business. In fact, RightScale’s 2017 State of the Cloud Report shows that companies’ cloud deployments are still dogged by lack of expertise, security concerns and wasted costs. Even so, potential cost savings and improved network performance can be hard benefits to turn down, which could explain why RightScale reports that hybrid cloud strategies are the preferred deployment method for most businesses. In short, businesses are wanting to capture the benefits of a cloud deployment without moving all of their infrastructure to the cloud at once.
A colocation provider can be the “x-factor” in optimizing this hybrid cloud deployment, equipping IT teams with the interconnection and connectivity to spin up cloud environments quickly and affordably while maintaining local infrastructure.
A misconception about both colocation and the cloud is that they’re an “either-or” investment. As mentioned, the two can be deployed together as part of a hybrid cloud model, enabling more streamlined application management. For instance, a business may want to run its mission-critical systems within the walls of their colocation facility but use a cloud environment for development and testing. A colocation provider can create a secure path to the cloud and allow this business to move necessary applications and data to and from the cloud seamlessly.
Greater Scale and Support
Many colocation providers offer a variety of managed services in addition to space and power. This creates a total data center solution for businesses, equipping them with the power, space and cooling solutions to scale infrastructure when needed plus the expert, on-site support to manage the environment without requiring bandwidth from internal IT talent. Furthermore, moving to a colocation facility can help reduce your CapEx and simultaneously tap into to the latest data center technologies.
Colocation providers also offer customers “burstable” cloud services — businesses gain the ability to use and pay for cloud services as necessary, as opposed to investing in a maximum-level, year-long contract. This gives businesses a cost-effective cloud option that can scale with their demands and doesn’t force them to move all their infrastructure to the cloud at once.
One of the greatest benefits of colocation over many cloud solutions is compliance. It can be tricky to align cloud deployments with the strict compliance and security requirements many companies face. Top colocation providers are often certified under the industry’s most stringent standards, giving businesses a viable option if they’re considering moving infrastructure off site but still have security or compliance concerns.
Colocation offers many benefits, but identifying the right provider can be challenging for companies. Perhaps the greatest challenge in selecting a colocation provider is resisting the urge to approach the investment as a commodity. The right colocation provider can offer much more than just power and space — seamless integration with existing cloud environments being just one of many potential benefits of working with the right provider. It’s important for businesses to clearly and proactively define the technical and business requirements they’re attempting to meet, then evaluate potential providers based on their ability to help achieve those goals. From there, comparing pricing, feature sets and service options becomes a whole lot easier.
Whether colocation is a new consideration for your company or you’re looking to knit together a colocation strategy with an existing cloud model, it’s never too early to understand your options. You can build on the information garnered in this article by reading our guide.