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Data centres and cloud work hand-in-hand in digital transformation

Jack Bedell-Pearce

Jack Bedell-Pearce

CEO and Co-founder of 4D Data Centres
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Image credit: Blackboard / Shutterstock.com

Most modern decision-makers within a business understand that digital transformation is a necessity if they want to compete long-term with those around them, whether it’s attracting new talent, meeting customer demands or driving greater efficiency.

Very often, digital transformation goes hand-in-hand with cloud solutions. It is a common misconception that cloud solutions are replacing data centres, when in fact the solutions wouldn’t be possible without the support of a data centre.

Regardless of whether a business is pursuing colocation, cloud or a hybrid platform for their digital transformation, they will need a data centre. While it’s possible to action this totally in-house, any long-term transformations will require a business to outsource some of its IT to an infrastructure provider.

According to The Data Economy Report by Digital Realty, by 2025, UK-based data centres could be responsible for the storage of data worth over $135 billion annually, something that is only set to rise as the reliance on data services grows. As the adoption of new technologies and the increasing digitisation of everyday services gains momentum, more data is generated. As dependence on data centres rises, so will revenues as a result.

The acceleration of digital transformation

With the wide scale adoption of cloud and colocation solutions alongside on-premise servers, the digital transformation trend towards hybrid-IT started around a decade ago and has increased steadily ever since. According to Statista, the amount of data created, captured, copied and consumed worldwide is expected to grow from around 59 zettabytes (ZB) in 2020 to around 149 ZB in 2024. 

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are helping data centres to improve system reliability, energy efficiency and security, all while reducing operating costs. To keep up with this, enterprises now have to focus even more on digital transformation and remaining agile.

This isn’t without its challenges, with an ageing IT infrastructure cited as a major hurdle for mature businesses. With technology changing so quickly, lots of in-house equipment has become outdated and can’t cope with the modern demands in terms of server space, power and cooling requirements. Upgrading the infrastructure that supports a business’ IT is essential since it can lead to reduced costs, data and great IT agility. It can also contribute to a more solid foundation upon which to progress digital transformation. 

However, upgrading in-house infrastructure can be costly and time-consuming, but there are cost-effective alternatives. These include taking services from a cloud hosting provider, housing hardware in a colocation facility or opting for a hybrid IT solution – splitting resources between public and private clouds, on-site servers and data centre suites. 

For those looking to keep costs down, physically moving existing systems to a colocation data centre can be the fastest way to get resources into a more reliable (and scalable) environment and the upfront investment will be less significant. It doesn’t even have to be done in one go, with business-critical systems being migrated first and secondary workloads moved later (or replaced with SaaS solutions instead).

Data centres and the cloud

Cloud and data centres are critical parts of the digital infrastructure, so it goes without saying that advances in data centre technology boost the effectiveness of the cloud, and vice versa. 

Across the world, the demand for non-stop data reached incredible levels throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time when countries were locked down and working remotely, it was estimated that each Netflix user streaming in HD used about 9.5 GB a day. And with nearly 70 million subscribers in the US and Canada, that equates to more than 18 million TB of data used in a single month.  

If an organisation wants to operate digitally, distributing workloads across infrastructures becomes a top priority. But before a business starts to worry about AI, the Internet of Things and big data, it should first consider the IT hardware that will support these projects, as well as the opportunity for bigger and more ambitious transformations further down the line.

It’s worth noting that service providers already account for 44% of worldwide spending on core infrastructure technologies according to IDC, and public cloud spending is always increasing. Of these businesses, many are pursuing cloud to achieve the levels of reliability and security they need for their IT, and they are doing so using a hybrid approach. 

Taking a hybrid approach to the cloud involves spreading resources between public clouds for front-end applications and private clouds for sensitive data. Some firms are also using on-site data centres to handle less intensive tasks. 

The flexibility of hybrid cloud solutions has made cloud migration easier and more agile than ever before. With other benefits including costs, scaling, continuity and security, cloud services all need to be hosted somewhere by cloud providers regardless of their form. 

Thinking long term

As cloud spending grows, the data centre industry grows with it and the future of data centres is becoming inseparable from the future of cloud and wider digital transformation. 

Advancements in technology are showing no signs of slowing down, so it’s up to the industry to keep up with digital transformation despite the challenges it will bring. Costs and updating infrastructure will be a big part of the future, not only to meet demand but also to ensure the sector is seen as progressive and operating in line with expectations.

Cloud solutions wouldn’t be possible without the support of data centres, and their importance is often underestimated when it comes to servicing our needs. The future is a collaboration, and with our dependence on the industry rising, data centres and cloud will work hand in hand to create a strong future that will service the current generation and beyond.    

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