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Blurring the lines between colocation and the cloud

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Randy Rowland, president of data centre services at Cyxtera, discusses why a hybrid structure is the IT environment of the future.

Companies’ digital requirements are outpacing the infrastructure available to support them. To keep up, many organisations are moving beyond their enterprise data centres to the cloud.

However, public cloud is not a solution for every situation. This is especially true where critical, sensitive workloads that are subject to GDPR, HIPAA, PCI and other regulations are concerned.

Yet most organisations do not have the resources, expertise or capital budget to support these workloads in their own data centres. As a result, hybrid IT environments that span on-premise, cloud and colocation have proliferated and will continue to proliferate, well into the future.

Benefits of IT innovations at odds with regulations

While the decision to move data out of antiquated, expensive on-premise data centres to public cloud models may make financial and operational sense, it introduces a loss of control.

Organisations must ensure the security of their data in today’s hyper-regulated world where non-compliance can translate into massive fines. The challenge many organisations face is how to address compliance demands, yet still be able to leverage the scale and cost benefits of IT innovations.

The IT model of the future needs to cater to the on-demand, point-and-click nature of modern technology that users have come to expect.

Just as important, security standards must be addressed so organisations aren’t over-exposed to risk. This requirement favours those that have full control over their IT infrastructure.  And of course, this all needs to be achievable on-budget.

Colocation has long been a viable choice for organisations that want better cost, compliance and control. But, a significant change to the way data centre infrastructure is traditionally provisioned is necessary for colocation to play an even more strategic role in hybrid IT.

What is needed is a new method to deliver colocation: one that is on-demand yet allows full control over dedicated infrastructure with the convenience, speed, agility and OpEx consumption model of the cloud. 

The move to point-and-click provisioning 

It typically takes three to six months for customers to get their network and IT infrastructure up and running in a traditional colocation environment. There are many steps to the process, and most are manual. 

There is a new approach, created by pioneers in software automation and networking that brings point and click provisioning to the data centre using a software-defined network fabric.  

This on-demand network provisioning combined with preconfigured hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) compute nodes, shortens deployment time from months to a single business day.

A software-defined network fabric eliminates the time and effort required to connect colocation environments within or across facilities. In addition, HCI reduces complexity because standard server hardware can be used with a software layer that virtualises the hardware allowing easy, linear scaling of all components. 

With this new model organisations can:

  • Speed time to market for new workloads by 90%
  • Retain full control of their collocated infrastructure
  • Lower dedicated IT infrastructure cost 25-50%
Cloud-like speed with control of dedicated infrastructure 

While the on-demand data centre has the speed and agility of the cloud, it’s different in that customers have complete control of their infrastructure.

It’s not ‘shared’ and they can do whatever they like with it, such as use their hypervisor of choice or connect to any network or cloud on-ramp service provider.

The on-demand aspect is like the cloud in that services can be up and running quickly, with lower upfront investment in fixed costs. Equally important is the ease with which the on-demand data centre enables interconnectivity between existing or new deployments. 

Combining colo and cloud

Infrastructure is becoming more distributed and diverse. Traditional colocation has lacked the speed and agility needed, yet the cloud isn’t suitable for every application or workload.

A software-driven approach, with leveraging on-demand connectivity and HCI compute nodes, provides a unique alternative needed for hybrid IT that blends the most appealing aspects of both colocation and cloud. 

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