2015: Cloudy, With A Chance Of Colocation?

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Equinix shares its vision of delivering business applications in the cloud

Workforces are becoming increasingly flexible. Employees are using a multitude of devices to run a variety of apps and services, often in different locations. As a result, IT departments need the best solutions to provide uniform access to critical infrastructure for the entire workforce, wherever they may be. For many, cloud is the answer.

According to Equinix’s Cloud Adoption Survey, 72 percent are anticipating that larger budgets will be available for cloud services in 2015. As such, enterprises must make hard decisions on where to allocate the resources that are seemingly destined for cloud usage.

Direct connections to multiple cloud providers

A solution that many IT decision makers are considering is hosting business applications in the cloud from a number of geographically dispersed locations. Equinix’s study found that 78 percent of the same decision-makers are seeking interconnected colocation data centre environments because they offer direct connections to multiple cloud providers for overall better performance.

A ‘colo’ is a data centre facility in which enterprises (typically mid-size) can rent physical space for their computing hardware and servers. In return, the colo provides the building, power, physical security and cooling requirements for hardware.

Yet, despite their perceived benefits, included additional security, control and performance, colocated data centres are yet to become the norm. Equinix’s research indicates that this is likely to change in 2015, though.

71 percent attributed security as the highest barrier to deploying applications in the cloud. For many, 2014 has been a landmark year in security terms. Security issues command attention, and DCrightly so. Yet there are ways that these concerns can be addressed so that businesses can reap the rewards of business applications in the cloud.

Because there is no cloud model that will suit all needs, it is essential that IT departments handpick the elements that best suit their company’s journey. For instance, applications that depend heavily on internal databases, have steady computing requirements, require custom hardware or software capabilities and require extra levels of security and compliance might not be a fit for cloud services.

Typically, though, IT requirements will concern those services that provide the best security, greatest efficiency and strongest performance available.

Multi-cloud (where customers can use multiple cloud services simultaneously) is becoming increasingly attractive to enterprises because it is so difficult to choose a single vendor who is “everything for everyone”. By bringing cloud service providers and consumers together on a common, consistent platform and enabling them to establish private, high-performance connections, this approach gives enterprises direct access to the services they need to build simple or sophisticated hybrid cloud solutions.

The path to the cloud has typically involved using only the public cloud provider’s multi-tenant platform, where the IT department gives up control of the core infrastructure to gain the benefits of leveraging the cloud provider’s economies of scale.

However, in a collocated cloud exchange, users will communicate on a central platform. In doing so, bypassing the public internet leads to a more consistent performance with higher bandwidth but lower latency that is not affected by external factors. This then links to the secure element where data flows cannot be intercepted, monitored or modified by third parties, leading to better Cloud stacksoverall security. A good cloud exchange platform will provide access to multiple network and cloud providers in a broad ecosystem where connections are established in a high performance private environment. Undoubtedly, security is an issue for many, but by choosing the right cloud solution there are ways to minimise that risk and take full advantage of the opportunity offered by running applications in the cloud.

As IT departments manage the continual shift from purely enterprise hosted to cloud architectures, both tactical and strategic approaches must be employed to remain competitive. Strategically planning the progression of which applications and workloads will be fit for the cloud will be the most important task. At a tactical level, choosing the best cloud-enabled environment that provides fast and secure access to your cloud partners will provide the framework to deliver the security, efficiency and performance that all IT departments seek.

The future is becoming increasingly cloudy with colo on the horizon.

Rory Murphy September 2014

This post has been contributed by Rory Murphy, director of Field Development Marketing for the Cloud, Media and Network ‘Service Provider’ group for Equinix EMEA.