Everyone knows that moving into a secure data center grants their organization an added level of survivability and redundancy that the server room down the hall just doesn’t provide. Data centers are purpose-built facilities that have all of the familiar features like raised floors, redundant power, redundant cooling, and physical security that would rival many missile silos. We start to hear terms like “N+1” or “2N+2” to describe the level of redundancy built into these facilities.
But what about the cloud? I thought that we were supposed to be scrapping our physical gear and moving to the cloud. At least, that’s what all of the TV commercials and my buddies in IT are saying. Well, we need to have some direction before we start moving towards a goal. For example, at its most basic level, ‘the cloud’ is a collection of servers running virtual applications in data centers. If they are your servers in a data center, you’ve just gone to the cloud – your own private cloud. Now that the servers are physically located somewhere with more reliable power, cooling, and security, you can trust that your infrastructure won’t be taken down by an over flowing toilet 2 floors above you and that your organization will continue to operate in the event of a power or weather event.
But what about the user experience? Right now, you’ve got Cat V or Cat VI connecting you to your equipment down the hall. You’re probably getting there at either 100Mbps or 1Gbps. The traditional concern or reservation was that you would need to put all of your applications out in a data center and then connect via a point-to-point T1 – or some other modest bandwidth link. How things have changed! In major metro areas, providers are building out fiber networks at break-neck speeds – giving us access to huge bandwidth capacities at very accessible prices. Services that would have been reserved for the telco backbone providers a few years ago, can now be yours for what you used to pay for internet access. In many areas, you can connect to a data center in a different city via a 1Gb point-to-point for the same price you would pay today for a couple of T1s. So how will user experience be impacted? It won’t be. If anything, your users will thank you when your uptime increases.
But do you move to the cloud or to a data center? Half of your equipment may be brand new but the rest is end-of-life. So, what do you do? Do you buy new equipment? It might be a good time to cloud those applications. But what about the new servers? Do you scrap them? These are the issues that IT executives are facing every day. We find that a comprehensive cloud strategy is necessary. Often, the answer is a hybrid solution. So, to answer our question from the top of this section: Do you move to the cloud or to a data center? The answer is ‘both’. You can move your existing equipment into a data center and fully depreciate those assets. Meanwhile, rather than investing in new servers to replace those that were end-of-life, just move those applications to the cloud. And as the equipment in the data center comes up for replacement, simply peel those services off to the cloud. This is an important road map to development, and a discussion that ARG has with our clients daily, and ARG is uniquely suited to help with both.