Understanding the Role of Data Centers in the Virtual Workplace

By: Ernest Sampera on March 19, 2020

As more organizations continue to strive toward digital transformation, the way in which everyday business is conducted is coming under increased scrutiny. The widespread availability of cloud computing and high-speed, low latency internet connections have led many of them to explore the viability of shifting their workforce out of expensive office spaces and into the virtual workplace of the future.

Virtual Workplace Definition

The most simple definition of the virtual workplace is a workplace that isn’t located in a single physical location. While remote work is often associated with freelance professionals, it is becoming more common among all types of employees and across a wide range of industries. According to a 2018 IWG survey, 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, with 53 percent working remotely for at least half of the week. Thanks to virtual workplace communication tools, it’s easier than ever for employees to collaborate with fellow team members no matter where they’re physically located.

There are many reasons why organizations have embraced the concept of the virtual workplace. Traditional office spaces may have emerged as the normal arrangement for a business in the 20th century, but for many of today’s companies, especially smaller ones, having an office is just one more ongoing expense that eats into revenue without providing substantial benefits. In fact, according to a PGi study, the average real estate savings from shifting to a fully virtual workforce works out to $10,000 per employee each year.

Using remote work also allows organizations to leverage a much broader talent pool. This allows companies based in relatively low-skilled labor markets to gain access to the skilled employees they need to develop innovative products and services without having to physically relocate operations to more expensive markets that might constrain growth. There’s also the added benefit that remote workers tend to be more productive and exhibit higher retention rates.

Given the public health concerns associated with the 2020 COVID 19 coronavirus pandemic, it’s also important to consider the health benefits of the virtual workplace. Many companies have called for more employees to work from home as a way to reduce the transmission of the virus because working from home necessarily means that fewer employees will be exposed to one another directly.

The Role of Data Centers in the Virtual Workplace

Given these trends, it’s important to consider the role data centers can play in the virtual workplace. The first question, of course, comes down to what kind of data center solution an organization is utilizing. A private facility that manages a company’s infrastructure on-premises will face different challenges than a colocation solution that offloads much of the responsibility for managing that IT stack to a third-party provider.

In either case, however, data centers are important to the virtual workplace because they serve as a central point of access for data and essential business applications. When remote employees log into the network for the day, they will typically be utilizing assets that are located in a data center environment somewhere. By making that process as streamlined and secure as possible, organizations can get the most out of their virtual workplace arrangements.

3 Ways Data Center Services Can Help You

Colocation data center services provide a number of services that make remote work much more viable for an organization looking to reduce costs and undergo a true digital transformation.

1. Outsourced Data Center Infrastructure Management

Operating a private data center is a major undertaking for any organization. Even if a company is able to shift away from physical office space, it still needs to store its data and applications somewhere. While some businesses have shifted to a purely cloud-based solution, others prefer to store their essential systems on physical servers that allow them to retain control over their assets. Colocation data center infrastructure offers efficient power and cooling that helps control costs over time, especially compared to private facilities that often lack the latest in energy-efficient technology. More importantly, quality colocation providers provide around-the-clock remote hands support, which eliminates the need to keep an IT staff on call at any given moment to troubleshoot problems. These advantages are crucial for companies looking to “cut the cord” and eliminate the infrastructure and support footprint that’s keeping their virtual workplace tethered to a location.

2. Direct On-Ramp Cloud Access

A carrier-neutral colocation environment provides the connectivity options that allow tenants to access the leading cloud service providers. Cloud computing is an absolute necessity for remote work because it allows employees to access key applications and data as well as collaborate with other people in the virtual workplace. Colocation data centers make it easy for organizations to set up the cloud environments that facilitate remote work, whether that means direct on-ramp access to a single cloud provider or shifting between several platforms within a multi-cloud deployment.

3. Uptime Reliability

Data availability is one of the greatest challenges facing the virtual workplace. If remote employees aren’t able to access the data and applications they need to do their work, they’re going to spend a lot of time sitting around waiting. Since the virtual workforce is geographically distributed, losing access to the network means that productivity grinds to a halt. Many companies embracing remote work think they can get by relying on cloud computing, but many cloud providers don’t have uptime SLAs that meet their needs. Amazon’s AWS platform, for instance, only delivers 99.99% uptime, which means it will be down rather frequently. Every moment of cloud provider downtime translates to productivity and revenue losses in the virtual workplace. Colocation data centers with superior reliability records and 100% uptime SLAs ensure that remote employees will always be able to access the servers hosting the data and applications they need to do their jobs

Overcome the Challenges of Remote Work with Colocation

For companies looking to explore the potential of the virtual workplace, colocation data centers should be considered a necessity. Leveraging a secure, reliable data center infrastructure with robust cloud connectivity allows them to step away from making (or maintaining) the capital investment in their own facility while also making it easier to do away with a physical office. If everyone can log into systems hosted on servers in the data center, there’s no need to have them come to a centralized location.

As organizations seek to realize more virtual workplace benefits, the services provided by colocation data centers will likely become more central to their IT strategy. Colocation offers the flexibility they need to achieve a true digital transformation. With the incentives for shifting to remote work growing each year, companies that align their IT networks with those needs will be in a strong position to remain competitive in the future.

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