Let’s be honest; most IT shops are doing what they can to keep up with Business demands and constant change with more than ever increasing ‘do more with less’ approach. The Cloud can add even more confusion and chaos to the equation. You can scour the internet for articles on the pros and cons of the Cloud. Pros found are reduction in cost, flexibility, scalability and security. Cons found are increased cost, cloud lock in, network latency, lack of control and security. Wait? Aren’t some of the pros and cons the same? Yes. So, what really matters in building out your data center strategy?
When it comes to data centers there is the constant push and pull of how much ownership an organization should take. In deciding a strategy for your data centers there are four choices; on premise, colocations, cloud and a mixture of the three in a hybrid approach. The hybrid approach is interesting due to the ability to not be fully Cloud but the integration between the on premise/ colocations can add another level of complexity. Here are a few factors to help guide the decision making progress:
"Understanding your network needs will assist in defining your strategy"
Type of Businessyou support.What is the core business function? What does the business do to generate revenue? What size of business are you supporting; small, medium, and large or enterprise? Are you a software shop running an agile method? Large International Corporation with offices all over the world? A regional financial institution looking to ensure strict state and federal regulations are adhered too? Once you understand the business you can determine the need for flexibility, scalability and security posture. Maybe your need centers around a better project portfolio methodology and better communication with the business. IT should assist the business as well as enable it.
Network Latency. Local networks are getting stretched and intertwined with international MPLS networks and the more international you get the more latency plays a role in data transmission and VOIP quality. Understanding your network needs will assist in defining your strategy. Also, be aware of SaaS applications and how your company uses them.
Ownership. As an IT shop how much ownership do you want over the environment? Total ownership that allows for customization or giving most or all control over to cloud services. During Merger & Acquisition activities, two companies had a hard time meeting aggressive timelines to integrate their mail systems due to one entity being in the cloud and the second being in hybrid mode; on premise and cloud. Before the Cloud, when merging or acquiring a company the IT group could configure the back-end to make the newly formed entity look as one. Understand what controlling the environment means for the Business.
Cost. The competition to provide services in the data center space is similar across the board. Floor space, HVAC, hands and feet support and facility security are needed in any option. The cost is easier to see with on premise and colocations but need to be factored in to any cloud options that are being considered.
One more thing; the ‘other’ influence to your strategy. ‘Everyone is going to the cloud’ is a common uttered phase in strategy sessions and such absolutes should be ignored. Absolutes in strategy sessions are not helpful. Ensuring that the proper analysis is done, all participants are guided by the right principles and with good leadership the path forward might be challenging but with the correct strategy success is attainable.