The path to the cloud continues to dominate business strategy, proving its value and confirming it is not a passing trend. With Gartner estimating the cloud services market will reach $150.1 billion by 2013, there’s tremendous market potential and companies of all sizes in all industries are ready to take advantage. As clouds grow, companies looking to transition must ensure their needs for connectivity, security and scalability – all necessary for a successful cloud environment – are met, while simultaneously keeping costs manageable. Whether building your own (private) cloud or sourcing it at an infrastructure or platform provider, these needs must be an integral part of an organization’s cloud considerations.
But, how can companies make certain they are taking the necessary steps to ensure their migration, and eventual stay, in the cloud is successful? One solution that many companies have learned the value of for their cloud-oriented needs is colocated, carrier-neutral data centers. With the opportunity to scale to match fluctuating demand, along with the connectivity and security needed to ensure reliable performance and always-on availability, the environment in these data centers is ideal for clouds. Another important benefit of a colocated environment is the sharing of resources, which contributes to keeping costs manageable.
Let’s take a deeper look at the key factors mentioned above to see what exactly makes them come together to create a well-suited environment for cloud computing success:
- Connectivity: Having multiple connectivity options allows companies ultimate flexibility in selecting the carrier that is best for their cloud based applications, as well as offering redundancy. A carrier-neutral data center provides the widest range of connectivity and coverage options possible, in some instances up to 100 different carriers per facility.
- Security: Moving to the cloud presents security concerns beyond information and network security, so organizations must be aware of data security risks associated with the cloud. Selecting a colocated data center with the most up-to-date technologies, including mantraps, biometric scans, and more, help ensure the cloud is as secure as possible.
- Scalability: Being able to quickly scale to meet increasing demand is a must in the cloud. A carrier-neutral data center offers users the ability to scale with ease as it already has the high-density power supply in place, as well as the equipped space ready for expansion.
While all of those factors are important for sustaining a successful cloud environment, some companies are simply trying to tackle the decision to move forward with transitioning to the cloud, or not. A relatively simple, yet novel way to address this industry challenge is to test the cloud environment, or “try it before you buy it.” Some businesses are hesitant to make the move to the cloud because they think it’s all or nothing and that if it doesn’t succeed right off the bat, they’re already in too deep.
Selected colocation data center providers now offer Cloud Testlabs at their facilities, which allow cloud-friendly companies and even service providers to test a cloud environment to get a feel for the flexibility and agility it delivers. This lab-like environment is risk-free, as it presents no financial obligation and, upon a successful run, allows a company to directly migrate to their own cloud. If more companies took advantage of testing a cloud environment, they would have time to focus on the key criteria to ensure its success, rather than focus all of their efforts on simply moving to the cloud, thus forgetting some of the factors to consider once the move has been made.
Ready or not, clouds are here to stay, and will continue to impact how businesses manage their data. As more companies make the move, it will be important for them to keep the factors we’ve described above – connectivity, security and scalability – in mind to make for a smooth transition and successful cloud environment. Minding these factors will help contain costs and ensure the cloud turns out to be the solution that companies thought it would be. Testing the cloud environment before truly entering it is a new and exciting way to get more users comfortable with the idea before they are fully committed. It means they can get their feet wet and be sure they’ve covered all of their bases before migrating to their own cloud, which is where companies are heading over the coming years.
Jelle Frank van der Zwet is the cloud marketing manager at Interxion where he is responsible for managing the Cloud Hubs, Interxion’s sizeable and fast-growing cloud communities.