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Going Fully Remote? Here's What to Do With Your Data Servers

By: Ernest Sampera on March 1, 2021

Prior to 2020, the phrase “work from home” elicited a very specific image for many Americans and included only a small portion of job roles. Many of those images likely bore out: working in pajamas, from our sofas, pets snuggled next to us, interruptions from family and the neighborhood garbage trucks, and an inability to unplug. Gradually, we adjusted. Built routines. Learned, hopefully, how and when to unplug. That is how change happens, typically. Slowly and over time. 

For all intents and purposes the shift to remote work as a normal work option was evolving the same way. Prior to Covid-19, many employers were still testing it out, fine-tuning it, and making it available when and where feasible. Similarly, many workers were doing the same, and reporting that they’d like to see more of it and enjoyed the benefits more than the complications. Then, the Coronavirus swept across the country forcing many companies to shift to a remote workforce in weeks rather than the months or years it would have taken under normal circumstances.

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Adjusting to the Accelerated Shift to Remote Work

Across nearly every aspect of a business there were adjustments that needed to be made, and made quickly, to enable workers to work from home. While some may have been remote workers prior to this, for others the shift was hard. There was, however, no shortage of tips for employees and tips for managers followed shortly. Everyone was facing stress and uncertainty, but one thing was certain, the businesses that could evolve quickly would be more successful.

While everyone was challenged, the bulk of the challenges likely fell on IT teams and the individuals who had to ensure the remote workforce had the tools needed to successfully migrate to a remote environment. In addition to having the tools available, networks had to be ready to handle extra traffic, security protocols needed to be in place with risk mitigation, considering the number of devices, some of them unsecured, connecting to a network. In short, businesses needed to be scalable and agile and a lot of that has to do with how a business is prepared to meet the future and approach a digital transformation.

How Data Centers are Powering the Modern Remote Workforce

For businesses already using a data center or colocation partner, the shift to remote work was, likely, as close to seamless as possible Many of their applications, tools, and data were already being accessed from multiple locations and they were already familiar with how the services provided by a partner could support and expand their business goals and needs. They were prepared to tap into these resources and utilize them to facilitate the shift.

The remote workforce was going to need reliable uptime, shared storage spaces, fast data transfers, strong security, all in a flexible, scalable, and agile IT environment. For some businesses that meant either a significant investment in IT hardware and software or  a quick migration to cloud services. In this way, many data centers were able to support businesses and their remote workforce. Regardless, the remote workplace and remote workforce were going to need data centers. 

While other businesses may have been able to handle the network needs of their workforce working remotely, they were still, in ways, reliant on the services of data centers. Anyone utilizing collaboration and communication software was likely relying on data centers who provide the IT infrastructure for many SaaS providers

man's hand holds data migration text and symbolsWhat to Do With Your Data Centers in 2 Common Situations 

During the COVID-19 pandemic many businesses transitioned rapidly into remote workplaces, while those who had already undergone a technology transfer found it easier to react to the situation. Given that the remote work situation is likely to continue as more employers realize other benefits, now may be the time to consider how a data center can work for you

One of the biggest factors impacting this decision, for many businesses, is how to handle the migration. 

Migrating Servers From Your Office

There are plenty of good reasons to migrate data servers from on-premises infrastructure even for an office that’s not going fully remote. Building and maintaining an on-prem environment is a significant CapEx cost for an organization, one that delivers diminishing returns almost the moment it’s put in place. By migrating to a third-party provider, companies can turn that CapEx cost into an OpEx one while also putting themselves in a position to adapt to changing circumstances. Further, that expenditure is far more predictable and can be better managed even as IT needs grow. 

Separating servers from the workplace allows organizations to set up flexible remote access that can accommodate future changes. If employees are all logging into remote servers, it doesn’t make much difference from a networking standpoint whether they’re doing it at home or in a physical office (although it does matter from a security standpoint). The transition to remote work arrangements, then, presents a great opportunity for companies to ditch the sunk costs of their on-prem data solution and migrate servers into a more cost-effective and versatile environment.

Preparing for a Technology Transfer

Of course, migrating servers is rarely a simple undertaking. Any technology transfer presents a number of potential risks that need to be identified and mitigated before a single piece of equipment is unplugged. That’s why IT departments spend so much time developing comprehensive data migration plans that follow proven best practices.

A few common steps during any preparation period include inventorying assets, identifying legacy applications, and mapping network dependencies. One of the most important questions to answer is how much downtime can be tolerated during the transfer. Today’s companies often can’t afford to lose key functionality in their networks or access to essential data. Luckily, there are many data migration tools available to facilitate parallel and swing migrations that keep critical systems and data available by using backup resources while servers are being moved.

enclosed server stacks Colocation vs Cloud

When the time comes to migrate data servers from an on-prem solution, organizations need to decide whether they want to move the servers themselves into a colocation data center or if they want to transfer the data stored on them into a cloud environment. While both options provide much more flexibility than an on-premises environment and are each suitable for remote network access, they represent very different approaches to remote IT infrastructure.

Colocation

Migrating data servers into a colocation infrastructure provides a number of benefits. In the first place, colocation data centers are generally far more efficient in terms of power and cooling performance, which translates into long-term cost savings due to superior energy utilization. A carrier-neutral colo facility will also provide a wide range of connectivity options, allowing customers to link their servers and data to a variety of cloud platforms, which enhances their flexibility and scalability. With the right connections, a colocation data center can provide all the advantages of a cloud computing service while also delivering more control and visibility into infrastructure performance.

Another advantage of colocation is that customers don’t have to rethink their network infrastructure too much. They’re migrating servers they already own that are configured to run their applications. There’s less concern about compatibility issues since the underlying operating system will remain the same. For an organization that needs to transfer legacy applications into a new environment, colocation is a much more reliable (and less headache-inducing) option than a cloud migration. Since colocation data centers feature extensive infrastructure redundancies and backups, they are less prone to downtime that can cut into both revenue and productivity.

Cloud

Organizations have been making the transition to purely cloud-based infrastructure for many years now. As cloud platforms have matured, many longstanding security concerns have faded and less-established vendors have fallen to the wayside. For an organization that’s tired of dealing with physical equipment, doing away with their data servers and migrating to the cloud sets them on an OpEx path that will allow them to scale their infrastructure more easily in the future.

Shifting to the cloud carries some complications, however. In the first place, not every application can be expected to run smoothly after being “lifted and shifted” into the cloud. There’s also the risk of having data locked in with a specific platform, making it difficult to migrate in the future. While most cloud platforms do a good job of patching security vulnerabilities, many IT departments are justifiably wary about handing so much cybersecurity control over to an external team. Right-sizing cloud capacity needs can also be a challenge, leading to unexpectedly high bills when actual usage exceeds estimates. And since few cloud providers can deliver better than 99.99% uptime in their SLAs, many organizations simply won’t be able to accommodate the downtime risk when it comes to accessing their essential data.

Simplify Your Shift to a Remote Workforce With vXchnge!

Your data center partner should be well-versed in handling a migration and choosing one that can advise you on best practices is vital. vXchnge has significant experience in assisting our clients with migration and migration strategies.

Further, for many organizations, migrating to a colocation or cloud setup is scary. There can be worries about control and transparency. At vXchnge, by contrast, all data center customers get access to the powerful in\site intelligent monitoring platform as part of their basic colocation services. in\site provides real-time reporting, rather than a snapshot, of your system allowing you to address concerns before, or as, they arise.

Companies looking for a quick solution for migrating their data servers to accommodate a remote workplace may put too much of a priority on convenience and price, failing to think ahead to what their capacity and performance needs might be in another year or two. Given the work involved with executing a successful data center migration, it’s good to vet a colo provider thoroughly before committing to a migration.

As an award-winning colocation data center, vXchnge has several facilities located across the US to help businesses support their increasingly remote workforces. Our carrier-neutral colo environment allows them to build the remote access networks that meet the performance and security needs of their distributed employees. To learn more about how vXchnge can assist with your migration and set up your remote access network, talk to one of our colocation experts today.

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