Has the cloud bubble burst?

There’s an important, potentially ‘best of both worlds’, compromise

Written by Phil Alsop, Editor DCS Europe Published 2024-06-10 09:12:03

There was a time not so long ago when the sheer hype and noise surrounding the cloud would have convinced all but the most pig-headed of company board members, and even a fair few CIOs, that failure to move all their IT assets off-premises to this promised nirvana would shortly be followed by the failure of their businesses.

Fast forward to today and there’s a similar marketing-driven suggestion that the cloud has spectacularly failed to deliver on its promises of fast, reliable, easy to access and inexpensive IT resources. Time to move everything back on premises, with the serious sounding policy of ‘data repatriation’. (I have in my mind an image of millions of bytes and data sets all leaving their cloud homes and knocking on the door of their business owners’ offices and on-premise data centres, asking to be allowed back in!).

As ever, the reality of the IT and accompanying data centre landscape lies somewhere between these two extremes – with the word of the century as far as technology is concerned – hybrid – the best description of the end game. Cloud is fantastic for many organisations, as is on premises. So, to ensure the overall optimisation of their IT and data centre estate, CIOs and their helpers are now busy trying to understand what infrastructure and apps belong where.

However, the choice they face is not binary – cloud or on-premise. There’s an important, potentially ‘best of both worlds’, compromise: colocation.

Many of the reasons which made the cloud attractive in the first place, in terms of the benefits it offers when compared to the on-premise option, remain. However, for many the potentially open-ended costs and lack of control/autonomy experienced by many cloud users, means that the benefits are, ultimately, outweighed by the disadvantages.

Step forward colocation data centres. Offering many of the similar benefits found in the cloud – flexibility, scalability, access to otherwise difficult to provision and expensive infrastructure, for example – but at a more certain, fixed price point and with much more control of the infrastructure performance and reliability. Add in the guarantee of a service level agreement (SLA), and it’s not difficult to see why colocation is an attractive option. And not just for those who have tried the cloud and now want to pull back, but also for those with on-premises data centre infrastructure which is expensive and challenging to operate and maintain.

The likely end result of waning enthusiasm for a cloud-only approach, along with a growing realisation that on-premise is a big strain on often limited internal IT and data centre resources, if not an actual business bottleneck, is the realisation that there is no perfect, one size fits all solution.

However, for many, I suspect that developing a colocation-centred IT and data centre strategy makes the most sense. When compared to cloud-only, on-premises only, or a combination of these two approaches, the colocation option as the centre piece of an overall hybrid solution is the right one.

The starting point for such an approach is to take the time to understand the importance and resource requirements of every application within your organisation. However time-consuming and challenging this might seem, without this concrete data, the subsequent infrastructure plan will almost certainly be sub-optimal.

However, armed with the detailed data, it should very quickly become apparent as to where each application, plus the necessary infrastructure, should reside. That’s to say, the vast majority will obviously fit into one of colocation, cloud or on-premise, with a few applications maybe suited to more than one location.

Almost certainly, colocation will be best suited for the majority of applications – taking away from the considerable strain and complexity of running on-premise resources, at the same time as leaving you a level of autonomy and confidence which you just might be signing away when you head to the cloud.

The best place to start? Well, once you’ve carried out the hard work of analysing your applications’ needs, take them along to a potential colocation data centre provider. They will help you fine tune your plan, happy to provide their colocation facilities, but also happy and open enough to acknowledge that other options will form a part of the final optimised, hybrid strategy.