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Cloud and Data Centres May 11, 2021

Evolving data centres are the hub for cloud strategies

By Fiona Hughes Compute and Cloud Proposition lead for BT in Ireland

With all the talk of the public cloud, you could be forgiven for thinking that the role of data centres and colocation services have become less important. They haven’t; they’ve just changed. Aisles of racks are still a key requirement but aren’t perhaps the central IT resource they used to be, but the data centre still has a pivotal part to play. Businesses will continue to need ‘colo’, running elements of their IT from data centres, but it’s a piece of a jigsaw now rather than the whole picture.

In the rush to the cloud, many organisations discovered they needed a Plan B and C, having underestimated the cost and complexity of migration journeys. Some applications that were moved to public cloud platforms have boomeranged back to private cloud environments because compute consumption costs were running out of control, or hosted data fell foul of EU data regulations.

Cloud challenges prompted data centres to evolve and become an integral part of hybrid strategies, neither dead nor dying despite the trend towards public clouds. They still have a big role to play and they’re not going away any time soon. Colo can be the bridge to the cloud, allowing businesses to consolidate services in one place as they leverage different types of service delivery and embark on multi-cloud strategies.

Public and private options

Part of the challenge is understanding the many types of cloud. On one level, cloud is simply the latest version of centralised computing, a service that BT has been delivering for decades. On another, it’s changed the world of ICT radically because of the development of hyperscale platforms, providing public clouds that rely on virtualised computing grunt to develop and deliver services on a massive scale. Somewhere between the two sits private clouds, typically hosted in high end server rooms or data centres. They have some of the same scalability of public clouds and all the agility but let organisations retain operational and commercial control along with greater data security.

The point is that one size doesn’t fit all, which is why we have seen the emergence of multi-cloud as the dominant IT trend, where organisations run services from different environments, including private clouds in data centres. According to Gartner, 92% of organisations have multiple clouds and 80% are adopting a hybrid combination of cloud and on premise.

With less than 30% of IT systems having moved to public clouds, the importance of data centres can’t be underestimated. For many IT departments, they provide a hub from where multiple services can converge and be orchestrated. To do this effectively, data centres need to have multiple high performing points of presence for connecting with communication service providers and their networks.

Data centres have always been carrier neutral, which means they can connect with multiple networks, but what changed with the cloud is their evolution into communication hubs. BT’s next generation cloud-enabled data centres, for example, can connect and offer services to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Alibaba. It also means that customers can switch providers from within a single location without having to physically move their servers and racks. Something a legacy server room in HQ could never achieve. In addition, we offer choice, as the cloud market expands and matures; we know businesses are highly motivated to retain choice and management over cloud deployments and their application landscape.

Future-proof facilities

BT can quickly mobilise a team with IT, cloud, network and security skills to address any change in strategy, and can design, migrate and support organisations at whatever stage they’re at in their data centre consolidation and cloud adoption journeys. Scale, expertise and breadth of capabilities has made BT more adaptable than most in making our date centres future-proof. They’re next generation cloud-enabled, pre-connected to our global network with pre-configured services and security built in.

Our role as a network provider is also important when organisations think about moving to the cloud – 60% of application migrations fail due to lack of consideration for the network. Today, we not only provide cloud connectivity to all the major public cloud platforms, we can wrap them in a managed service to optimise performance and drive continual improvement.

For more than 20 years BT has been providing colo services in Ireland. The need for different requirements has been accelerated by hybrid and multi-cloud options. What hasn’t changed is the importance of the data centre as the hub for bringing it all together.