Hybrid IT Series: Colocation and Network Server Management
In a previous blog, I discussed some of the options to consider when servers are reaching the end of their life cycles. In addition to refreshing or replacing them, you can get out of the server management business and move to an off-premise data center.
While you ultimately may want to move your workloads to the cloud, not all your servers may be at the end of their life cycles. You may still need to maximize your current hardware investment. Or, you may not be in position to go through all the work required in determining which applications can and can’t migrate to the cloud.
That’s why colocation can be a good intermediary step between keeping your servers and moving to the cloud. Colocation allows you to maintain ownership of your assets, but you don’t have to invest in the resources to keep them in-house. Depending on the colocation facility, you may have the option of having on-site experts help manage these assets, freeing your staff to work on more important projects. Implementation is also quicker because you don’t have to take the time to determine what to order, actually order it and get it up and running.
Another benefit is that you can then start gradually moving data to the cloud. Working with the right colocation provider — one that offers cloud services, has a solid track record of success and has the security and regulatory compliance requirements you need in place — will make it all the easier.
Count the Savings
There are cost savings to be had as well. With colocation you get access to highly efficient, technologically advanced data center resources at a fraction of the cost of building the systems yourself. A colocation provider can offer a level of performance and management functionality that most organizations can rarely match, creating a return on investment that greatly exceeds the cost of the colocation plan.
Ordinarily, when you need to expand space, add equipment or enhance security, the project is front-loaded with capital spending. Colocation, however, is currently treated as an operational expense. This means you have much more flexibility in responding to needs for additional capacity, new facilities or new technological capabilities.
In addition, costs are usually divided among departments like general office costs with in-house data centers. Departmental charges are vaguely associated with the true costs of the services performed. When you partner with a colocation center, charges for specific services and service levels are predictable and fully itemized.
There are other reasons for using colocation if you plan to eventually move to cloud services too. One of them has to do with the need for data to move in a variety of directions between internal and external resources. Data needs to move fast and reliably. Few organizations have or can afford to invest in the advanced networking capabilities offered by most off-premise data centers.
There is also the issue of actually moving your data to the cloud or, in the case of a hybrid IT strategy, between internal and external resources. Data center operators that offer cloud services can help on both counts. First, they enable you to put your non-cloud infrastructure in the same facility as your cloud systems, simplifying data movement between the two environments.
Data center operators can also provide you with access to their operator and interconnect networks, which makes it easier and more cost efficient to quickly move data over large geographical areas and between internal and external assets. These private interconnects and specialized network systems get data to corporate WAN and LAN systems, adding a layer of security in how information is delivered.
In some circumstances, regulatory requirements may make colocation a better, or at least more comfortable option than the cloud — at least for now as regulatory bodies become more familiar with the protections the cloud can and can’t offer. Of course, if you can find a colocation provider that offers cloud services and its data centers and cloud infrastructure have all undergone independent assessments for compliance with the requirements of HIPAA, PCI DSS and other standards, all the better.
Colocation isn’t the only option available to you if you want to get out of the server hardware management business. Make sure to check out our blog on replacing or refreshing servers. You can also take advantage of the following free resources from Peak 10: