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Colocation doesn’t have to be an either-or decision where cloud is concerned

By Lilac Schoenbeck.

Having recently read a lot of articles debating the pros and cons of colocation versus cloud, it made me think about how fast this industry moves. Today, IT is critical to all business segments and right now most IT departments are feeling the pressure to build a more agile, modern, cost-effective cloud environment. In particular, one that has the ability to adapt to business change quickly. Most organizations are investigating a move to the cloud to reap all those promised benefits of scalability, agility, the ability to spin up your infrastructure in days rather than months and all at an affordable price.

This makes me wonder whether any business can keep up with the velocity of technology change. In fact, I recall that it wasn’t that long ago when we were promoting virtualization, coaxing organizations out of the need for physical systems and into a shared, more cost effective, model. Barely a decade has passed and now we’re asking IT to stop thinking about a virtualized system and to start thinking about delivering it all in the cloud. To put that into perspective, in enterprise IT terms that equates to maybe two hardware refresh cycles.

There are a number of reasons why this pace of change is hard and it’s not just about the hardware, software or infrastructure. It’s also not about whether the company should go with public, private or hybrid cloud. Nor is it about the resource and cultural issues, training, procurement processes, regulatory issues or security concerns. I’m talking about the fact that not all systems have been virtualized. Not every application in an enterprise estate has made the shift to 2005, let alone 2015.

While this might sound ridiculous, it’s not that long ago, 15 years in fact, when most of us were up at midnight wondering if COBOL code would take down our world. You’ve only got to look at the many high-profile banking incidents over the past 12 months, or so, to know that the vast majority of that COBOL code is still in situ, working perfectly (or perhaps not so perfectly for some) in many of the data centres / centers around the world of our large financial institutions, healthcare organizations and governments. So, it’s not all that inconceivable to think that many databases haven’t made the leap to becoming virtual machines.

So where does this leave the company seeking to move to the cloud? For many, multi-tiered applications with physical dependencies or specific networking requirements, platforms and applications are all hindering that move.

While we all jokingly call cloud ‘the next generation of hosting’, most cloud providers have forgotten how to do one of the most critical tasks in hosting: colocation. Colocation is the practice of housing your servers and devices in a professional data centre in order to access economies of scale, advanced infrastructure, greater bandwidth, lower latency, specialist services and systems, constant security and a whole host of other additional advantages. I can see dozens of reasons why companies should seek colocation options from their enterprise cloud providers – and many reasons why cloud providers should happily offer them.

There are a number of reasons cloud companies should offer colocation at every one of their global locations. For one, it’s important so they can support customers with physical system needs, with dependencies on specific network configurations, and with non-standard operating systems. It shouldn’t be an either/or decision. You don’t have to be 100 percent virtual and 100 percent standard to benefit from cloud. Finally, colocation supports disaster recovery offerings, which let’s face it, aren’t much good if some critical part of a client’s infrastructure cannot be replicated.

The takeaway is that your cloud providers shouldn’t force you to drag your infrastructure through the decades to reach the cloud with all your applications. Some cloud providers (iland, for example) can support a bespoke environment, and can offer colocation in the cloud and work with you to deliver the optimum infrastructure to suit your business requirements. You don’t have to completely do away with your entire IT infrastructure to make the leap to an all-in cloud environment.

Enterprises shouldn’t have to choose colocation or cloud: it is about making sure that colocation and cloud services coexist so that IT can evolve.

The author
Lilac Schoenbeck is vice president of Product Marketing and Product Management at iland.

•Date: 4th February 2015 • UK / World •Type: Article • Topic: Cloud computing

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