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The data centre is dead! Long live the data centre!

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A lot of talk has been on the growing use of public cloud platforms as an element of IT infrastructure. The reality is that this focus on the cloud, with statements like ‘cloud only’ and ‘cloud first’, means that many organisations haven’t paid enough attention to their own data centres - and they’ve started to lag. 

Applications and data dictate infrastructure investments, and they’re not all are suited to public cloud. The promise that hyperscale cloud platforms would free companies from having to invest in and manage their own infrastructure should be tempered through a more balanced view. The pendulum needs to swing back for a more rounded perspective of the critical role organisational data centres play in an overall hybrid infrastructure. 

In reality, organisations have discovered that moving applications to the cloud is a non-trivial exercise, both from a technical point of view, but also from ensuring that the applications comply with ever-more complex regulations and governance requirements. 

On top of this, companies quickly discovered that not only was the cloud not as cheap as envisaged, with some organisations receiving large bills at the end of the month, but they couldn’t accurately predict what the expenditure was going to be from month to month. 

Even companies that built their infrastructure in the cloud from day one - so-called born in the cloud digital companies - are seeing the benefits of locating certain key applications inside their own data centres to guarantee performance and control. 

A modernised and well operated on-premise data centre can be cheaper, despite everything that has been said about the consumptive pricing models offered by cloud providers. 

But, to play its part as a platform supporting the modern, agile, and rapidly moving business, the data centre needs to evolve into a higher form of itself. This is evolution at its finest and we can see it happening right in front of our eyes. 

Modern data centres need the following attributes: 

  • Applications need to drive decisions. The modern enterprise consists of hundreds (or thousands) of applications that each have their own infrastructure requirements. Achieving business objectives is directly linked to the success of applications, so it’s critical they drive and direct modernisation and architecture decisions.
  • Your architecture must break down silos. The data centre needs to operate as a cohesive whole to deliver the best possible outcome. Stakeholders, including the network, security, data centre, cloud, and operations teams, can no longer afford to do things in isolation.
  • Your network must support your ambitions. Getting modern applications and business services to perform at their potential requires the support of the network. The network is often overlooked when planning modernisation efforts, and doing this will have a negative impact on the success of these projects.
  • Secure by default. When planning your data centre, the most modern and up-to-date security strategies and controls need to be on the table from day one. Security posture and governance requirements are determined by the industry you operate in, and this needs to be factored into the process early on.
  • Plan for automation. Core to modernising the data centre is embracing software-defined infrastructure. Getting the benefits from this demands that many functions that previously required manual operations are now automated. This will have an impact on how you resource your IT team and the skills they need. It also opens the door to working with partners who can manage the data centre remotely, freeing up your team to focus on business innovation.
  • Plan to expand. While some applications remain in on-premise data centres, many of them will still need to share information with applications hosted elsewhere, either in co-located data centres or in the cloud. High speed WAN connections, and placing applications in data centres with high speed access to the hyperscale cloud providers, ensures that an optimal user experience can be delivered.
  • Finding skills. With the industry-wide skills shortage, it’s not possible - or even desirable - to have all the skills needed to run the modern data centre in your team. Partnering with companies who have invested heavily in these skills, and are committed to keeping their people keep up-to-date with the latest developments, allows you to benefit from advances without having to keep those skills onboard. 

The data centre continues to evolve, and the focus should be wide enough to include on-premise data centre and cloud platforms. For organisations looking to ensure they’re ready to deliver the applications the business needs today and, in the future, ensuring your data centre can keep up is critical. 

For more information on how we can help you to modernise and automate your IT infrastructure, to deliver services at the speed your business requires, click here.

 

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