Data Center Capacity Planning in 3D: On Premise, Cloud and Colocation

Data Center Capacity Planning in 3D: On Premise, Cloud and Colocation

How to Grow?

In the Information age, products and solutions need to be launched in a quicker fashion than ever before. Companies looking to expand effectively are now taking on multiple platforms (hybrid approach) to grow their IT infrastructure with precision and speed. These methods include a combination of on-premise hardware, colocation and cloud solutions.

Many companies look to outsource certain elements of their workloads to outside providers with specialized knowledge of the task. This is especially prominent in the Information Technology sector.  Software as a service (SaaS), disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and server colocation are all examples of this.

However, the majority of businesses are still maintaining certain aspects of their own IT infrastructure on-premise. When it comes time to expand their workload to provide service to a larger customer base, research has shown businesses are more likely to turn to an outside provider to grow their IT solution. Typically, these solutions consist of colocation and cloud style offerings. The appeal of off-premise expansion comes from the ease of setup and the speed at which the technology can be deployed to provide rapid scalability. But how do you plan for such an expansion? Which service style is right for you?

 

Colocation

“Increasingly more enterprise datacenter operators are being pressured to become increasingly agile and cost efficient, which has led to hybrid datacenter environments with workload deployments spread across on-premises, colocation and public cloud data centers.” –Fidacaro and Moretti

Most colocation providers want to make it as easy as possible for their clients to grow in their data center(s). Colocation is an appealing option for those with dynamic hardware needs, no one knows your hardware better than you. The colocation supply chain is very easy to follow, once the terms are settled the prospective end-user will ship their hardware to the data center of the provider. From here, most colocation providers can have the hardware up and running between 24-48 hours.

This forgoes the complicated and timely act of adding more space in a on-premise locations or building a new data center altogether. A company may very well keep and rely heavily on their initial on-premise solution, but expansion is fastest and most practical when the hybrid method is employed via colocation.

Unlike other solutions such as full managed hosting or a move to the cloud, colocation provides businesses with a huge degree of control over their infrastructure. Businesses are able to pick the exact hardware they need to produce the best results and are never left in a situation where they are paying for more than what they need. They retain full control of their equipment and enjoy all the benefits of an true enterprise grade data center environment. Additionally, colocation providers may be able to assist with hardware management and an array of other services if so desired.

“In 2015 more than 80% of all datacenter space (square footage) globally was owned by enterprises. However, that percentage is expected to drop below 75% by 2020” –Fidacaro and Moretti

 

Cloud

A move to the cloud is becoming an increasingly popular option for many organizations as well. It provides a simple way for companies to off-load hardware and data center considerations to the provider. Scalability is typically easily achieved via the cloud also.

However, there are some cost considerations worth thinking about with the cloud. First of all, you are giving up hardware control to the provider. While some companies may have little concern about the underlying hardware as long as their performance requirements are being met, others may feel differently. For some companies their technology is a primary focus, especially those working with highly specialized technology or performance heavy applications. For them the convenience of the cloud may not outweigh their requirements for specific hardware optimizations.

Another thing worth thinking about is the pricing structure of many cloud providers. While having on-demand expandability is nice, companies often times find themselves paying more for the convenience. When calculating for utilization rates and remembering that you don’t actually get to control (or sometimes even know much about) what hardware you are operating on it is easy to see how the price-to-performance ratio of the cloud often lags behind colocation fairly significantly.

 

On-premise Expansion

Once a company hits capacity on their own on-premise data center, if they want to keep everything in-house, they need to undergo a large construction project to expand. This is hard to rationalize as real business growth does not happen in data center sized units at a time and a short lived spike in demand could leave a company with a large and unnecessary investment on their hands.

Add to that the complexity of building an effective and efficient data center and its easy to see why fewer and fewer companies are choosing to go this route. Designing your data center to have the appropriate security measures, connectivity and adequate cooling can be a daunting and expensive task. Very rarely does it make sense for a company to undergo this type of expansion.

Colocation and cloud solutions allow for a gradual expansion and is always tailored to what the company needs. Much like just-in-time inventory practices, companies can now expand on a dime when they need it without having to invest in the extra space.

 

What’s right for you?

Hybrid solutions often represent a much more practical approach for precise expansions and other business infrastructure projects. It is likely that looking to the future we will see data center growth from colocation and cloud providers outstrip the growth of on premise Enterprise data centers. Especially for companies starting out, outsourcing infrastructure is a fast and easy way to step into the world of industry.

If hardware control and unrestricted self-management are a must for your company, then colocation is likely the best way to expand your IT capacity without giving anything up.

If convenience and ease of use are your cup of tea then cloud may be an attractive option.

On the off chance that you are a large enterprise with capital to invest and certain growth in your future, then just maybe expanding your existing data center or building a new one is the right thing for you.

In any case, considering new trends in enterprise technology, accurately projecting your own needs and establishing exactly what your top IT priorities are should lead you to the right decision for your organization.

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