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Colocation: The Smart Approach to Outsourced Data Storage

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May 8, 2014
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Hearing familiar industry bon mots tossed about such as “not every workload is created equal” or “just because a workload can be outsourced doesn’t mean it should be” bring back my mother’s voice ringing in my ears. “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you,” she’d say when she thought I was about to do something stupid. Hang gliding and base jumping weren’t popular pastimes back then, leaving me grasping for a snappy retort.

The first two phrases are meant as commentary on the readiness – or lack thereof – of cloud data storage as a viable option for critical and sensitive data. But, like my mother’s cautionary bluntness, they are snapshots in time that reflect the perceived state of things at that moment, at least in the eyes of the commenter. As with cliff jumping, the state of things is always changing.

A company’s cloud computing and storage strategies should be integral to its business strategy. And, just as every workload is not created equal, no two business strategies are likely to be the same. What works wonderfully for one company may cause another to implode.

Similarly, the cloud and data storage industry is anything but homogeneous or static. The range of skills and professionalism among providers is enough to fill a bell curve. The cloud industry equivalent of hang gliders changes the landscape practically daily. The trick is to find the one that fits you best.

Heightened interest in the hybrid cloud is an acknowledgement that IT services, including cloud storage, must be tailored to suit individual goals and objectives and to turn on and shut off services in accordance with strategic requirements. No one size fits all (another witticism!).

Colocation fits into hybrid cloud design extremely well. A hosted primary data center or private cloud places applications close to cloud storage, mitigating concerns over application performance and latency. Aside from providing virtually limitless storage capacity, tiered and managed according to requirements of the data, you have access to the best infrastructure facilities available for a fixed monthly fee.

Always lurking in the background is concern over cloud data security. Can the cloud be trusted? Not necessarily, but individual cloud storage providers who fall to the right half of the bell curve may be trustworthy; the farther right, the better. On the security and compliance continuum, Peak 10 takes pride in being far right.

“Flexibility is an important concern when choosing a colocation provider,” said Aaron Hegler, Peak 10 solutions engineer. “The provider should be able to meet requirements for elastic cloud capacity when pending projects overburden the customer-owned infrastructure. This allows the customer to rapidly deploy solutions to their business users without suffering the long lead times associated with purchasing and receiving new hardware. This flexibility should never come at the expense of compliance, however, whether it’s cloud, colocation, or in a hybrid model.”

Colocation is also an excellent platform for evaluating and staging new workloads going into the cloud as the provider proves itself worthy of your business and trust builds. For this reason, selecting providers with a full complement of IT infrastructure, cloud and managed services is preferred over the long run; that way, speed is on your side and multi-vendor management and monitoring will be less of a chore.

With the increasing volumes of data being generated and stored, together with the associated cost, none but the largest organizations and companies can reasonably conceive of going it alone when it comes data storage. The same goes for cloud computing generally. The economics alone make other approaches impractical. But, economics aside, the possibilities engendered by cloud computing and the freedom to pursue them are among this technology’s greatest benefits.

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest