Cloud and Colocation
Cloud and Data Centers are the siblings of data storage and services. Data Centers provide the environment that allows for physical server location and support while cloud allows users not to be concerned with the environment and support of the functions.
Data Centers are the older sibling. They were the first to allow companies to move their IT backend functions to an offsite location where space was less expensive and there was the option of trained support staff available as required. This option saved the costs of a full time staff capable of handling contingencies and moreover saved the costs of constantly upgrading knowledge levels and certifications. This last mirrored some of the savings derived from the offsite space. Here, the companies avoided the costs of using prime space for non-revenue generating functions. In addition, the companies avoided the costs of keeping the space at current standards (electrical, cooling, fire protection and security) which required attention and expense: when located in the data center, security, fire protection, cooling and power are their prime business services and they have to meet and exceed standards to be competitive. Similarly, staff qualifications levels are also a competitive issue.
Further, because it is their primary business, Data Centers have to have more redundant and hi speed connectivity than any single user could have. They tend to have many major carriers that customers can utilize. They also tend to have duplicative redundant electrical service, more backup generating capacity, reliable or duplicative fuel delivery contracts and redundant cooling than any private company could justify. If “N” is the capacity amount for a critical service, data centers have a range of support ranging from “N” to “N+1” to “2N” to “2N+1” and sometimes more. Again it is a competitive issue.
Cloud Services evolved from Data Center capacities. Once companies realized they did not need their servers “on site”, they began to realize they were not interested in the services at all. They were only interested in what the servers did and produced. This belief was reinforced when they looked at their server per cent utilization and the excessive capacity they needed for peak loads. It was more cost effective to only pay for the capacity.
This was first illustrated in Hosted Services. Here companies let the data center host the services they needed and free themselves from worrying about standard software, operating system support and support of non-custom applications. The Data Centers provided the functionality of various operating systems and standard programs. The Companies interfaced over the web and operated as before with reduced costs.
The Cloud provides the capacity of “virtual” servers (a number of which can be on one physical server or spread among several physical machines). These virtual servers are software defined and are extensively protected from cross contamination. Moreover, the virtual servers achieve higher levels of physical server utilization than any private server would achieve. Cloud Users only pay for the capacity used and can easily expand capacity for peak loads and periods.
There is some administrative load in using large commercial clouds and a number of Data Centers have Staff members who are trained in handling these issues for the users. Again at a lower cost than retaining their own staff and continuously upgrading skill sets.
The beauty of the combined systems of Cloud and Data Centers is the ability to interconnect private corporate data centers, commercial data centers , private clouds and public clouds to provide the most cost effective, responsive and secure processing and service environment for operational efficiently.