The early days of cloud computing were a period when many industry experts thought the cloud would mean the death of the colocation provider. After all, businesses that can outsource IT to a public cloud where they only pay for the system resources they use and don't have to manage any of the hardware sounds much simpler than a colocation plan. However, those were the days when the cloud was little more than an early adopter technology and marketing hype. Cloud computing has matured substantially during the past few years and the result has been a more nuanced conception of how the cloud and colocation interact.
Data center colocation is increasingly being approached as a complementary service alongside the cloud, or even as a key cloud enabler. Organizations that want to leverage cloud technologies, but that also need to strengthen their cloud plans, would do well to consider colocation as part of their strategy. A few ways that colocation can support large-scale cloud plans include:
1. Backing up your cloud
Cloud providers handle data backup and recovery in different ways, and they don't always have the strongest solutions in place. The strength of the backup strategy will vary substantially based on how much you are spending on the cloud solution, but it often pays off to have data that is stored in the cloud backed up in a central location where the configuration is controlled by the organization. Colocation is invaluable here because it gives you a flexible data center environment with robust network support systems that can help you gather data from various cloud sources and back it up in a cost-efficient way.
2. Establishing a private cloud
Hybridization is a common theme across large-scale cloud strategies. Businesses tend to like the public cloud for its cost efficiency and accessibility, but they are also aware that it is often ill equipped to handle critical apps, services and data. In many cases, the public cloud will also struggle with performance-sensitive workloads. Many companies are implementing private clouds as their primary IT environment and then supplementing that solution with public cloud subscriptions. The result is a flexible, scalable and cost-efficient technology environment.
A private cloud requires a robust data center architecture that is capable of supporting significant network demands, high power capacities and flexible equipment deployment methods. As such, many corporate data centers are ill equipped to support a private cloud efficiently. Colocation is an ideal option here because it lets an organization take full advantage of contemporary data center resources without having to commit to a dedicated facility.
3. Securing your cloud
Many organizations building a private cloud need the help of advanced security architectures to effectively support the solution. Logical security methods, like network monitoring and anti-malware programs, are available regardless of your data center configuration. However, physical data security methods – primarily access control solutions that extend to the rack or cabinet – can be expensive and difficult to deploy in a corporate facility. Establishing a partnership with a colocation provider gives organizations access to the vendors expertise, staff and facility resources that are devoted to access control. In many cases, colocation providers are experts at offering customers convenient access to their configuration while also providing high levels of physical protection.
4. Integrating your cloud systems
Many experts agree that one of the great challenges facing businesses right now is a need to get public cloud, private cloud and traditional IT systems to share data and work well in conjunction with one another. This often means ensuring smooth data flow between systems across multiple facilities, forcing organizations to adopt a data center without walls concept. While this theory offers considerable potential, organizations can run into significant challenges when their cloud configurations work at an extremely rapid pace while their legacy systems struggle to keep up.
Solving this problem depends on taking cloud attributes – virtualization, automation, high-density computing, flattened network architectures, etc. – and applying them to the enterprise data center. Not every facility can handle the power and cooling demands of such a configuration, and a colocation plan can help organizations establish a cloudified data center to support integration between various IT environments.
5. Moving data between clouds
Cloud computing puts an incredible strain on WAN systems, and the data center connectivity solutions offered by cloud providers are specifically designed to move information over telecom networks as efficiently as possible. This is accomplished through a combination of carrier neutrality, high-performance interconnects and WAN optimization and acceleration solutions. With such systems in place, businesses that use colocation configurations as a hub for their various cloud and non-cloud IT setups can ensure that data moves quickly between diverse locations.
Cloud computing is transforming the way organizations handle their IT operations, and colocation services are well equipped to provide the data center stability you need to strengthen your cloud plans.