Cloud computing is no more a harbinger of the demise of colocation than it is of the corporate data center. As the computing world presses on toward hybrid cloud strategies and infrastructures, these IT service models and others yet to be developed will all have their place at the hybrid table.
It seems quite certain, however, that cloud usage will increase either more quickly than or at the expense of growth in colocation and on-premise data centers. Without limitless resources upon which to draw, the cloud is the only way to affordably achieve scale in orders of magnitude, which the processing, storage and application of spiraling data volumes require.
Colocation is very much alive and well, just the same. We see this clearly at Peak 10, where more than half of our thousands of customers use colocation services alone or in combination with cloud computing and storage. Without having to bear the entire burden of rising costs of networking, power, cooling, back-up, compliance, staffing and physical security – not to mention the headaches — colocation consumers are better able to leverage their investments in software and hardware to produce business value without ceding control to a third party. It’s a well-proven strategy that’s been used since long before cloud computing.
Cloud computing will not be denied, however. And for those colocation consumers, as well as on-premise data center operators, for whom control, security and performance in the cloud was an issue in the past, their concerns have largely been addressed in spades. A question for users of colocation to address now is the who, how, where and when to migrate some or all of their workloads to the cloud.
If your colocation provider also offers IaaS services, then how you were treated as a colocation customer is a good proxy for what you can expect from them for additional services.
- Were you treated like a renter or a guest?
- Did you have to chase down help to address issues, correct problems or just ask a question, or was your provider proactively engaged in assuring your satisfaction?
- Were there periodic reviews of your current situation, business requirements or growth objectives?
- Was professional or technical assistance available to you for the asking?
- Could you reach someone in the event of an emergency or when you needed a helping hand onsite to resolve a problem for you?
- Were you satisfied with the frequency, scope and thoroughness of infrastructure maintenance and system testing?
There are advantages to having your IT assets in close proximity to your cloud service provider … speed and performance of applications and data transfers, as well as vendor management among them. Regardless, don’t assume that moving workloads off your systems and into the cloud will be a walk in the park. Even under the best of circumstances issues arise and getting out in front of them can help deliver a smooth transition.
So, whether in the same location, across town or across the country, you may find it beneficial to engage with a cloud services provider that takes a direct interest in making your cloud implementation as productive and value-creating as you expect it to be, and more so. Here are a few signs to watch for:
- Discussions begin with what you need your cloud implementation to accomplish over what period of time, not how many VMs you want.
- The cloud solution is built for what you need – no more and no less – rather than what they have to offer; keeping your solution ‘right-sized’ is a shared commitment.
- Clear lines of responsibility, timetables and benchmarks are defined, as are performance metrics that must be achieved.
- Workload migration and technical assistance is available.
- Initial deployment is followed up with a review meeting, and subsequent meetings and technical reviews are scheduled throughout the year.
- The vendor is transparent in terms of issue handling and resolution, compliance auditing, maintenance processes and protocols, etc.
- Infrastructure, operations and security are all professionally staffed 24/7/365 and available to assist customers.
For some, the progression from corporate data center to colocation to the cloud is a natural, evolutionary one. For others, circumstances may demand that some combination is the ideal solution, at least for the time being. In any case, it’s not an either/or proposition. And given the mega trends of mobility, social media, Big Data and the cloud, all joining forces to drive the Age of the Customer and the Internet of Things, there clearly can be no “right” answer but, rather, only the answer that is right for you.