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

By: Ernest Sampera on October 27, 2020

Shifting employees to a remote work environment and setting up network access is a relatively simple undertaking in today’s technology-rich world. Most employees will likely own a computer and have an internet connection that will allow them to access the files and applications they need to do their work. In order to ditch existing office space and go fully remote, however, on-premises hardware will need to be moved into a new location. That means migrating data servers.

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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. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to rapidly transition to a remote workplace, those that had already undergone a technology transfer found it much easier to react to the situation.

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.

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.

Colocation Data Center Pricing

There are several factors that go into determining colocation data center costs. It’s important to understand which features are being accounted for when reviewing colocation pricing. Some data centers may provide powerful analytics tools to measure infrastructure performance, but force customers to pay an additional premium to access them. 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.

These details are incredibly important when evaluating colocation providers. Every data center provides the bare minimum of space, power, and cooling, but the real differentiator is what other services and support they provide to their customers. 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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