Will cloud computing Eliminate Server Rooms?
It's obvious but easy to overlook the fact that cloud computing systems aren't actually up there in the cloud. As we've pointed out in other blog posts, 'cloud' is really just another term for 'running on somebody else's hardware.' There are many ways in which companies can use off-site systems to help run their operations, and the changing pattern of provision is giving rise to some noteworthy changes in the industry.
Cloud or Co-location?
As demand for increased computer power continues to rise and providers rush to open new data centres, a huge amount data is being migrated to the cloud. For many companies, this is often the right choice.
But as we point out in our Cloud Services section, there are plenty of exceptions. For example, some companies are large enough to be able to justify running banks of servers in their own data centres. In other cases, companies' IT needs may not be expected to change very much in the medium to long-term, so a one-off investment in a fixed capacity on-site system might be a safe and cost-effective bet. For other businesses, basing some of their own systems at a remote data centre (known as 'co-location') may be an excellent compromise solution.
Larger companies with plenty of IT experience often favour co-location because it's a solution that offers lots of flexibility. The data centre provides the premises, the connectivity and the maintenance services, but the company provides the hardware and the software; it's a much more affordable solution than building a purpose made data centre, and the company only needs to pay for the service as long as it needs it. With co-location, the company will never find itself saddled with a building for which it has no use.
Nevertheless, much the same argument can be made in support of cloud services, which don't require companies to supply their own hardware either. Ease of activation means fewer technical barriers for new and smaller companies that want to make the transition and, as a result, cloud solutions are gaining quickly in popularity.
Co-location facilities won’t vanish completely but the rise of cloud services means that the number of customers who use them is likely to decline over time. Dedicated data centres will still be built by businesses that can support and manage their own infrastructure, and where economies of scale make such approaches cost effective. However, the tide has undoubtedly turned, and large and small companies alike are finding cloud platforms much more affordable compared to enterprise data centres.
The most immediate impact is likely to be felt by the small scale providers who have been using storerooms and other re-purposed parts of their buildings to accommodate small co-location data centres. Developed opportunistically, rather than as part of a specific service-focused plan, these are the providers that may be most likely to expose their customers to downtime and associated losses. In an industry where reliability is everything, and in which the cost of cloud services is falling steadily, they could be amongst the first to go.
In short, the general direction of the industry is towards scale, convenience and reliability. As David Cappuccio from Gartner states: “By 2025, 80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centre, versus 10% currently.”
Trends and transformations
The growing uptake of software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) have contributed to this trend, and the fast growth of the internet of things (IoT) will continue to sustain the cloud computing platform.
The increase in cloud computing has added to the rise of hyper-scale data centres, meaning large-scale public cloud data centres, run by providers such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook. A Cisco report suggested that the growth of the hyper-scale data centres could support 53% of data centre servers by 2021, accounting for 65% of all data stored and 55% of all data centre traffic.
Should I be migrating to the cloud?
This is a question with no easy answer. So much depends on your individual business needs. However, it is fair to say that cloud-based IT solutions can offer some important advantages, particularly to growing businesses. Situating some elements of your IT infrastructure in a remote, off-site location can give you rapid scalability and a much improved disaster-recovery capability. A cloud-based solution eliminates the need for significant capital expenditure on new hardware, and it places the responsibility for maintenance and continuity on the provider, so you won't have to hire your own IT staff to manage it. As a result of all this, your business could become more secure and you’ll often enjoy significant cost savings, too.
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De-clouding (also known as ‘un-clouding’) may be a more ccost-effective option if, for example, you can be confident that your workload and the size of your organisation will remain relatively unchanged. If you don’t need the flexibility and the scalability that the cloud offers, and if you don’t often need remote access to your software and files, then a co-located or ‘on-premises’ solution might sometimes be a better, cheaper option. If so, we can help to make it happen.
If you need help to make a key strategic decision about how and where to host your IT, please talk to us. We're experienced, we're impartial and we're very good at helping our customers to make the right choices. Call us today on 0800 368 7730.