In-House, Cloud Or Colo Datacenter: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

In a world where information technology is expanding everywhere – except budgets – IT professionals must try and support new requirements like BYOD, Big Data, cloud, social computing and 24×7 connectivity, while managing their data centers’ power and space requirements, maintaining legacy systems and storage. For many CIOs, new options like cloud and colocation look like an increasingly attractive solution, but that’s rarely the case, said Eugene O’Sullivan, who heads up the DataCenter Transformations business at GlassHouse Technologies.

While various data center management options are available, including in-house, cloud and colocation facilities, IT is quickly learning that there isn’t one deployment to fit each of their organizations’ unique needs, he said. Instead, a holistic data center strategy, which evaluates the benefits of using a combination of the three options, is necessary to meet businesses’ ever-evolving demands.

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.7 trillion in 2013, a 4.2% increase from 2012 spending , according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. The news was only marginally better for data center systems, which will grow spending 4.5% this year to $147 billion, and another 4.2% in 2014 to $154 billion.

The Uptime Institute’s 2012 data center industry of over 1,100 data center end users – of which over 75% manage more than one data center – found that despite the fact that 80% have built a new data center or upgraded an existing facility within the past five years, 30% expected to run out of data center capacity at one of their sites in 2012. Data center budgets and capacity demands continue to grow, despite a sluggish economy, which means it’s more important than ever to make your investments count, said the research company. And while cloud computing adoption is steadily growing, driven

primarily by potential cost savings, it remains to be seen whether or not these savings will truly happen.

GlassHouse has produced a white paper that addresses how a tiered data center management strategy will provide businesses with the particular services and infrastructure they need without paying for anything they don’t. The paper originated from discussions towards the end of 2012, said O’Sullivan, whose company has had more than 17,500 engagements with more than 12,000 clients globally.

Customers were saying they know they can’t keep akk IT inside, they want to put it somewhere else, but do they go colocation or cloud; it’s too big a problem for us. “All the hosting options, or even staying in house, all have their pros and cons and absolutely do not apply to all situations, so why try and do just one?”

Some clients have tier-one applications or services that run their business, and the moment that service is down, your business stops, he said. At the other end of the scale, you have applications that are important, but if they’re down for half hour or half day, is it really that important.

While an in-house data center gives the organization total control over storage scalability, power consumption, security and footprint, it also drastically increases IT overhead, has unique security concerns and may pose significant risk for long-term downtime and permanent data loss. Public cloud services are appealing because you only pay for what you use and the service is scalable, but because they share infrastructure and hardware with many organizations they offer little or no control over the underlying technology infrastructure. They’re also more favorable for an organization’s cashflow because they’re an operational expense (OpEx) instead of a capital expense (CapEx). While the major perk of public cloud services is cost savings, the major drawbacks are mapping your security model to your vendor’s cloud implementation and, effective cloud strategies still require process, policy, chargeback and organizational changes designed for a cloud environment.

Benefits of private clouds include the ability to provide services over a private intranet or via a private data center, increased fault tolerance, business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities and increased security. However, private clouds tend to integrate incumbent technologies and are expensive to build and maintain.

Other options include hybrid cloud, multi-tier cloud and colocation. Colo allows organizations to place their hardware in a datacenter owned and maintained by someone else but still use the colocation’s bandwidth as their own. Maintenance and staffing costs are less than an in-house data center but clients are assured of an as-good or better level of reliable power, cooling and communication infrastructure they’d have in an in-house data center. However, colocations require more maintenance than cloud and can be more expensive than basic Web hosting. They also require CapEx and ongoing maintenance OpEx, which increase overhead for the IT department.

The bottom line, said O’Sullivan, is that all the different hosting options have pros and cons, but one size doesn’t fit all. Organizations need to evaluate their needs for storage, power consumption, security, downtime tolerance, data center footprint and overhead capacity to help create a data center strategy that gives them everything they need without paying for anything that they don’t.

 

Author: Steve Wexler

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