In an industry shaped by constantly evolving applications, workstreams, and technologies, it’s essential for companies to have a flexible and scalable data center strategy. CIOs face a great number of challenges in this dynamic environment. Technologies that were relevant two years ago may now be obsolete. Adapting legacy portfolios is often a risky and expensive proposition. And CIOs need to grapple with the evergreen question of data security versus cost.
With so many different options available, from cloud computing to on-prem, how can you know which strategy is right for your business? While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, here are four questions you should consider while developing your data center strategy.
1) Is cloud computing right for you?
With cloud computing services emerging as a major trend in the data center industry, many CIOs are now deciding whether they should migrate their business to the cloud. There are many good arguments to support this case: namely, that cloud is flexible, scalable, and may be cost-effective. As a pure OPEX model, cloud allows enterprises to pass on the risk of operations, infrastructure investment, and obsolescence to a third party.
But cloud comes with its own set of risks, especially concerning issues of data sovereignty and cybersecurity. Some vital questions to ask before moving to the cloud include:
• Where exactly is my data stored, and can I manage this to meet jurisdictional and internal compliance?
• How does it affect my operations and can I maintain sufficient control?
• In a sector where perception is often equated with reality, is cloud as secure as other options available in the market?
• Once onboarded, can I successfully migrate applications to other platforms?
If these questions can be answered to your satisfaction, then it’s definitely worth considering cloud migration as a viable option for your business.
2) Are you paying too much for your data?
Every CIO faces the dilemma of balancing efficiency, security, risk mitigation and cost in a constantly evolving IT industry.
The key takeaway here is that flexibility should be at the heart of every CIO’s data center strategy
To develop a successful data center strategy, it’s critical to assess the different challenges associated with each option, and make your decision accordingly.
For instance, investing in M&E plant and equipment servers is costly and can seem like a never-ending expense. Finding the right balance between OPEX and CAPEX is also a key consideration, with large enterprises often preferring one model over the over.
On-premises data centers present their own challenges, especially in terms of operational staffing expenses. On-prem data centers that are not housed in purpose-built facilities can also consume expensive Grade A real estate and hinder flexible real estate strategies.
As for colocation, pricing has fallen significantly over the last 36 months. This presents the risk of legacy portfolios being over-rented —and in some cases, this risk is exacerbated as expense increases in line with contracted pricing escalations.
The reality is that there is no magic bullet: when it comes to formulating a cost-effective strategy, you need to weigh the different data center options and decide which one makes the most sense for your company.
3) How can you optimise your legacy portfolio?
Legacy portfolios are often a pain point for CIOs, since they require constant management and investment. In addition, they face the twin risks of over-specification and under-utilisation. These concerns are particularly relevant for legacy colocation, which is also prone to issues of low power density. Legacy on-prem is challenging as well: it can be CAPEX heavy, time consuming to manage and obtrusive to other support services, particularly real estate.
Given these challenges, how should you go about optimizing your legacy portfolio? One solution is to consider outsourcing to colocation or cloud with structured contracts that provide scalability and help cut costs. This gives CIOs the opportunity to right-size existing platforms and build flexibility into their portfolio going forward.
4) Are hybrid IT solutions the way forward?
As we have seen above, there are no perfect options when it comes to choosing the right data center strategy. This is why many enterprises are now opting for hybrid IT solutions, which aim to strike a balance between security and flexibility. Hybrid IT solutions incorporate the best of both worlds, offering CIOs more control than a pure cloud solution, while providing the scalability that every enterprise needs. Highly sensitive applications can still be housed on-prem or using a trusted colocation provider, while the less sensitive storage demands of day-to-day business are housed using a public cloud solution.
The key takeaway here is that flexibility should be at the heart of every CIO’s data center strategy. In an industry where change is the only constant, it’s vital to optimise your portfolio so that your company isn’t behind the curve. This doesn’t mean that you should adopt every technological trend that comes along; a better approach is to assess which IT options will offer your portfolio the right balance between security and cost. Once you’ve figured that out, you will be well on your way to developing a flexible and cost-effective data center strategy.