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The Future of the Cloud in Data Centers

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How the Cloud is Being Used in the Data Center Today

Hand working with a Cloud Computing diagramToday’s data centers are faced with managing more, and larger, data files than ever before.  As the size of data being managed grows, data centers are faced with a dilemma. They have to be able to effectively, safely, and efficiently store and transmit large data but many either cannot expand storage options because of space or because of budget.  So, what is the answer?  As we have seen, the solution is cloud storage.  Cloud storage is not new and it is not going anywhere.  In fact, more and more data centers are moving a significant portion of their data storage to the cloud.  Cloud storage improves efficiency and protects critical data in the event of a data center disaster or emergency.  Uptime Institute issued it’s annual Global Data Center Survey report and noted that while traditional storage is still in use, many data centers are moving towards cloud storage, “In many ways, data centers seem to be on top of the problem. The traditional method of attempting to guarantee a reasonably quick recovery from a catastrophic failure, regular backups to a secondary site, is deployed by 68 percent of the respondents…36 percent take advantage of cloud-based high availability services.”

Why More Data Centers are Migrating Storage to the Cloud

Many data centers are adopting cloud usage on some level because traditional data storage and data backup options require more infrastructure than data centers have or can afford.  Realistically, legacy data centers often cannot sustain the growing demands of today’s data demands with it’s existing infrastructure.  Adding racks, cooling, security, and more can be costly, impractical, or simply not an option with the existing space.  

cloudcomputingCloud storage can endlessly accommodate the growing demands of data storage needs and is easily scaled at a moment’s notice.  Information Week elaborates on why data centers are migrating their storage to the cloud, “The combination of “always-on, never fails” expectations, the ease of scalability, and the change in cost model that the cloud provides has had a direct effect on the strategy that CIOs employ regarding how to leverage their data center and the delivery of IT within their company. CIOs look across their traditional IT landscape and see high cost and loss of efficiency with their multiple data centers, multiple storage solutions, and large deployment of servers and applications. As a result, organizations are increasingly leveraging public cloud in order to augment traditional IT and take advantage of these benefits.  Companies can convert capital expenses originally allocated to their private data centers into operational expenses associated with the cloud, and can begin to shift to more of a self-service model for their end-users, which helps defray IT costs. When cloud was first introduced, many CIOs took a “wait and see” approach as the model matured, but now cloud adoption has drastically increased, with Gartner estimating that 40% of IT budgets are being allocated to cloud and cloud-related services. Cloud’s transformative effect on the data center is evident in a commitment to “Cloud-first” policies across many organizations, including our own federal government and large enterprises like General Electric – who announced at Amazon’s AWS re:Invent user conference that the company will move 60% of its IT workloads out of the data center and into the public cloud.”  While the cloud is not a replacement for data centers or physical storage, it is something that every data center can advantageously incorporate to some degree.

Is the Cloud Safe Enough For Sensitive Data Center Information?

datacentersecurity2Security is a major concern for any data center.  Data centers that have mission-critical and sensitive information must physically protect their data, as well as protect how it is transmitted, for optimal security.  Naturally, any data center manager or CIO would be concerned about the security of the cloud, particularly when sensitive information is involved. Cyber hacking occurs every day so how sure can a data center be that their sensitive information is really secure when being stored in a cloud?

In short, the cloud is very secure.  But, it is important to note that it depends on what type of cloud service, and the provider, that the data center works with.  But, in many ways, cloud storage may actually be more secure than physical data center storage.  Information Week explains the advantages of cloud security and how it is constantly continuing to improve, “Because large clouds are geographically dispersed in data centers around the globe, they can pull in all kinds of security intelligence as data flows in and out of the cloud. This intelligence can then be used to track security threats and stop them far more quickly. When enterprises finally embrace the idea of cloud computing, it doesn’t become simply an extension of the traditional enterprise network. It becomes the central focus. End-users access the cloud through any number of different entry points, such as private WANs or the public Internet. Because the cloud is a centralized point of entry for customers, it becomes the ideal location for securing client/server communications as well as a single point of management for encryption keys. Finally, as cloud computing evolves alongside software-defined technologies, it allows for end-to-end visibility from a security protection standpoint. Never before have IT security administrators had the ability to create software overlays, which virtually flatten networks so that security postures can be streamlined and easier to manage.”

How Data Centers Will Utilize the Cloud Moving Forward Into 2019 and Beyond

cloud_computing_2013_censusIt is unlikely that we will see the cloud completely replace data storage for all data centers anytime soon.  So, what is more likely is that we will continue to see an increase in data centers adopting cloud storage in some capacity in 2019 and moving forward. Data Center Frontier describes a future filled with hybrid cloud data centers, “But as IT leaders look to modernize their IT environments and help their organizations transition to an all-digital model, they’re increasingly looking at hybrid cloud as the next major advancement. And there is no better place to execute hybrid cloud and retain future options than in a colocation data center with a very strong cloud and managed services ecosystem.”

And, if they do not believe we will soon all be hybrid cloud data centers, it seems that they believe the cloud will replace the traditional data center. In fact, ZDNet argues that cloud computing will virtually replace traditional data centers within 3 years, “And, driven by the rapid increase in use of cloud apps, data center traffic is growing fast, expected to reach 19.5 zettabytes (ZB) per year by 2021, up from a mere 6.0ZB per year in 2016, according to Cisco. Cloud data center traffic will represent 95 percent of total data center traffic by 2021, compared to 88 percent in 2016…All of this has led to the rise of what the networking giant is calling ‘hyperscale data centers’ — large-scale public cloud data centers. It said there will be 628 hyperscale data centers globally by 2021, compared to 338 in 2016…Cisco said that by 2021, 94 percent of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centers — only six percent will be processed by traditional data centers.”

Data size is growing, data use and transmission are increasing, and the world demands continual, uninterrupted access to anything they want online.  Downtime is simply unacceptable.  So, as data centers scale to meet the demand, they will continue to turn to the cloud for a practical and efficient way to scale.  Businesses, and thus data centers, will continue to leverage the power of the cloud in 2019 and beyond.



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