Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

How Colocation and the Cloud Killed the Data Center

As Gartner recommends, don’t relegate your colocation plans to one-off or siloed projects; instead, make them a focus of your broader hybrid cloud and digital business plans.

4 Min Read
How Colocation and the Cloud Killed the Data Center

Laz Vekiarides is Chief Technology Officer for ClearSky Data.

In speaking with enterprise CIOs and IT managers, I hear a lot of the same stories about successful technology deployments and complicated mistakes. As companies scale, they tend to take separate paths to similar ends, eventually running into the same obstacles and undertakings.

One of the most interesting, but not infrequent, stories I’ve heard comes from enterprises that recently built primary or secondary data centers – without considering that in the modern cloud era, there are no circumstances under which a company should build a data center.

A company telling this story likely bought land and constructed its new data center in a remote part of the country, where real estate and utilities were cheap. It entered a contracted agreement with a single network carrier that served the area. Then, as the organization grew and the company sought to work with new service providers, the team was surprised to learn that its site’s so-called valuable location prevented the data center from accessing certain services, ultimately putting a cap on the company’s growth.

Gartner recently noted that the cloud and colocation sites are “natural allies, not competitors," explaining that an IT strategy combining colocation with cloud can help reduce latency, increase security and create cloud interconnection opportunities. If the potential to build a data center site is still on the table for your team, consider the below ways cloud computing and colocation changed the IT game for good, and how your enterprise can benefit from the shift.

Carrier Diversity Matters in the Modern Data Center

It’s clear that the cloud should be part of your IT strategy, even if your team has yet to determine how to leverage it. Many CIOs are stuck, having moved some workloads to the cloud but facing obstacles as they attempt to migrate the rest of their business. According to Gartner, security and IT complexity are the top reasons cloud strategies grind to a halt. For these teams, it’s important to remain educated about their companies’ individual needs, and seek services that can help meet them.

In any case, when you’re dealing with the cloud, you’re dealing with remote IT resources. These require private networks with high levels of bandwidth and resiliency, and support from a robust data center provider. (To avoid vendor lock-in, you’ll want to make “providers” plural.)

When you build a data center, you pay a carrier to run fiber to the facility. Depending on the site’s location, the area often lacks the benefits of competitive providers, meaning you need to work with a major telecom carrier to physically connect your building. However, as reported by CIOs like the one in our example, this agreement can lock you into a relationship with a single carrier and cut you off from connectivity and service options. And, if your team ever needs to recover from a physical disaster or hardware failure, a lack of diverse resources in your data center can severely complicate your backup plan.

Connectivity is Unmatched in Colocation Ecosystems

Colocation environments in major metro areas are quickly becoming the industry standard. The economics of connectivity simply work best in an environment filled with choices. Telecom carriers have a higher incentive to support a facility that includes multiple colocation providers and a wide range of existing customers. In return, those customers – businesses like yours – receive a variety of options that help streamline business in the long run.

In choosing a colocation site to work with, know that location is a major factor in any site’s value and success. Assess the carriers with a presence in the site, and the service providers that can add additional solutions to your IT strategy. As Gartner recommends, don’t relegate your colocation plans to one-off or siloed projects; instead, make them a focus of your broader hybrid cloud and digital business plans.

ROI Comes From Cutting Down Infrastructure, Not Building It Up

In nearly every industry, there’s a pressure to downsize IT infrastructure – which contradicts the fundamental plan of building a physical secondary site. Core functions of IT are now available as a service, reducing the need to depend on on-premises hardware. Data center real estate and upkeep is an expensive game, and colocation sites are successful because of the resources they have available: metro-based locations and service from multiple carriers.

It’s important to consider your company’s specific needs and roadmap before you make a critical IT decision. However, when you consider the ROI of a colocation site versus the cost and maintenance required to build and maintain a private data center, and combine that with the power and prominence of the cloud, the choice is clear. As you choose a colocation provider, be sure to evaluate service options, carrier selection and your company’s plans for the long run. By getting involved with an active colocation ecosystem, you’ll be supporting the future of both your company and the IT space.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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