With its promise of scalability, flexibility, and agility, cloud computing has disrupted enterprise IT like no other technology. Over the last decade, the cloud has not only grown but become all-pervasive. While the cloud has gained immense popularity and is becoming the preferred choice for all hosting requirements, not all apps are created equal and not all apps are fit for the cloud. This is where colocation as a hosting model comes to rescue.
Colocation brings to the table several benefits for organizations like ability to own their infrastructure, complete control on the entire stack (from hardware to application) and better TCO over the long term. Organizations often face the issue of deciding between colocation or cloud for an application. Understanding the characteristics of the workloads is critical to deciding which hosting environment works best for that particular workload. Organizations need to look at each individual application and ask questions like how often it will be accessed, what are the security requirements, the architecture of the application, to decide which environment works best for that application.
When to consider colocation
The biggest plus with colocation is that organizations have the ability to own, use and maintain their equipment in a shared space. This enables the organizations to benefit with the dual advantage of complete control over equipment while having the option of sharing the cost of power, cooling, communications and data centre floor space with other companies in a well secured and professionally managed data centre.
As control and management of equipment (servers, storage, switches and software) remains with organizations, colocation proves to be a viable option for applications that include sensitive information and data and are governed by strict regulations.
Hosting some legacy applications on colocation also make business sense as either they need to be re-written for cloud or running them on cloud turns out to be more costly. Colocation is also a viable option in cases where an organization needs to augment the capabilities of the current data centre. A colocation environment can help the organization ensure significant savings as it doesn’t need to invest in building a new data centre. Colocation also makes sense for organizations that have recently invested in hardware but want to expand the capabilities of the present data centre.
When cloud works
The main benefit of the cloud model is that the service provider supplies and manages the customer’s full hardware infrastructure and is responsible for the administration of cloud environments. This enables IT, teams, to focus on strategic business initiatives. Further, the cloud offers the advantage of anywhere, anytime accessibility for applications and the flexibility of spinning up or down capacity as per requirement, delivered on the cost-effective pay-as-you-go model. Thus, the cloud is a perfect fit for applications that need resources to be scaled up and down as per the business need. For instance, for industries like e-commerce, which witness significant peak and trough periods, the most beneficial and cost-effective hosting model is cloud.
Cloud also proves to be a viable option when an application requires to be accessed and collaborated upon from multiple locations. Getting quick and easy access to business insights through analytics and dashboards is another big plus of cloud as it offers highly scalable solutions without large investments for infrastructure. Cloud also makes business sense when organizations need to adopt containers to benefit from its ability to launch applications at a speed that matches business demands.
Getting the right mix of colocation and cloud
The real opportunity for businesses lies in getting the right mix of cloud and colocation for different workloads. Organizations can arrive at the right mix in the distribution of workloads across cloud and colocation upon analyzing the workloads on various parameters. For instance, due to licensing constraints, performance demands or platform compatibility, certain workloads cannot be moved to the cloud. For such workloads, colocation on dedicated hardware becomes a viable option. Other workloads that are not bound by regulatory clauses or require frequent updates need to be hosted on the cloud. Workloads that need instant scalability or are short term in nature also benefit from the cloud model.
Let’s take an example of a bank. While it can run its non-customers identifiable data apps on the cloud, it can leverage colocation server hosting for critical and sensitive customer data. This configuration is a win-win as with colocation, the bank can ensure a dedicated platform for business-critical workloads and ensure security and total control of the infrastructure. At the same time, it can tap into the always-on advantage of the cloud.
Colocation server hosting in conjunction with multicloud strategy is being deemed to be the most powerful configuration. By adding multiple clouds in the mix, organizations can further benefit from the flexibility of choosing the right cloud for the right workload. Moreover, organizations can avoid vendor lock-in and gain the ability to choose the appropriate provider, deployment model or technology stack for a particular application.
Using colocation services and multicloud together in the right way can help organizations achieve a true hybrid infrastructure. Much depends on choosing the right partner. Look for a provider that is cloud-agnostic and has a partnership with leading cloud services providers. It must allow an enterprise to run all workloads on a variety of clouds including public clouds, hosted private clouds, and colocation servers while managing them through a single pane of glass.
The provider should have a powerful combination of world-class facilities, well-defined and measurable SLAs, advanced security and support, and multiple levels of redundancy. Additionally, it should have the capability to convert data from different data formats and transfer them efficiently and quickly across cloud and colocation platforms. This will help organizations to achieve the best of both worlds and create a truly integrated infrastructure.
By Mr Nitin Mishra Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer, NTT – Netmagic