Cloud Data Centers: Build, Buy or Borrow?

By: Becky Bracken

The question for enterprises isn’t really “Cloud or no cloud?” anymore. Instead, enterprises today are feeling pressure from employees accustomed to having their work and personal lives virtualized and available with the flick of a finger. Gartner Research predicts that by 2016 the business process services market will have doubled in size to $145 billion as companies look for new efficiencies in the way they conduct business.

For service providers looking to capitalize on cloud services, the critical question is how to get there. Do you build a data center from the ground up? Do you rent a couple of racks as a way to get started? Do you take space with an outfit like Digital Realty? 

The inescapable fact is that the cloud, for all the ink spilled over it, can mean just about anything, and has as many interpretations of its use as it does customers looking to harness the efficiency of cloud computing. Service providers searching for the best means of delivering cloud services might want to begin with a good long look in the proverbial mirror.

“There are two potential extremes in terms of embracing the cloud,” says Ade McCormack, founder of Auridian Consulting. “Push everything out into the public cloud and manage this in-house, or push everything into the hands of one cloud provider. The former gives you a degree of control, though you will likely spend most of your time in procurement- and service-related discussions with a sinking feeling that only you care about the enterprise information architecture. The latter requires an extremely high level of trust, and unless managed carefully will lead to an ‘adequate at best’ and expensive service. But if you get this right, then your focus can be on proactive demand generation in the user community rather than reactive commercial and technical firefighting.”

Cloud service provider, know thyself 

Melanie Posey, IDC’s research vice president of Hosting & Managed Network Services, acknowledges there are as many cloud service providers as there are cloud business strategies. She says it’s best to start with the simplest of questions: “What do you want to use the data center for? What is the total amount of power you need? Do you need a huge room for networking?” 

Posey breaks down data-center tasks into three areas of concentration: orchestrate, network and compute. 

“Once the networking is adequate, how many requests will you get?” she says. “The customer will have web-facing in the cloud, but then the actual application will live in the customer data center. How many requests will you have going on from the data center?” 


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