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Should I stay or should I go… to a cloud provider?

Should I stay or should I go… to a cloud provider?

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Matt Edgley, Director, TeleData UK, discusses the relationship between cloud and data centres and explains why it’s better to consider all the factors that are relevant to your business, look for providers that meet those needs and make sure you ask the right questions.

Moving to a cloud provider is a consideration that really came to the fore for a lot of businesses during the course of the pandemic. The requirement for flexible, secure working at any time and from anywhere meant that cloud really ticked a lot of boxes and this prompted many firms to begin or accelerate their Digital Transformation journeys. But should businesses really be making this leap – should they stay where they are, or move to a cloud provider?

Unless we’re talking about a single server or application, the question of whether firms should be jumping ship entirely and moving the whole of their IT infrastructure to a cloud provider is probably the wrong question to be asking. Especially for businesses that use a variety of types of workloads or applications.

Choosing to ‘stay’ within a data centre for example, may often be the correct choice for static workloads – ones that don’t really change their resource usage or storage consumption day-to-day, month-to-month or year-to-year, or for applications that just ‘tick over’. But this doesn’t mean that a company has to make that same choice for the rest of its IT estate. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You don’t have to choose to stay, or to go.

Data centres and cloud can easily co-exist and provide the ideal combination for a spread of applications and information. So rather than asking whether to stay in a data centre or go to a cloud provider, businesses ought to be asking themselves whether they are working with the right provider for their technical needs. In most cases, you would be looking for a technology-agnostic provider that can handle the network and security aspects of a blended, hybrid platform. You want the best of both worlds – the agility of the cloud and the control of colocation. A provider that offers interconnected cloud and colocation services would be a good place to start.

But then there are the different types of cloud solutions to consider: public cloud; private cloud; multi-cloud or hybrid cloud. Which is best?

It’s all dependent on requirements. The IT has to fit the need – you might be using applications or handling data that needs to adhere to particularly stringent security policies. In which case, public cloud probably won’t be the answer for that element of your business and private cloud, on-prem or colocation would perhaps be the better choice. However, that’s not to say that you can’t then use public cloud solutions for your comms – of course you can. You might also, for example, be running a unique line of business application that is slightly old and clunky and just won’t work in the cloud. So that might sit on-prem. And there you have your blended IT solution, your hybrid platform.

Although, it’s best not to get too hung up on the terminology, or even be too precious about what type of solution you have. The better option would be to find a partner or provider that can really get to know and understand your business needs and offer a consultative approach to discovering the right IT infrastructure for you.

The term ‘cloud provider’ is far too general. All providers build their clouds differently with varying degrees of investment and built-in resilience – not to mention support and migration assistance. One size does not fit all. It’s better to consider all the factors that are relevant to your business, look for providers that meet those needs and make sure you ask the right questions. And it’s not just technical or technology related factors that need to be considered. You also need to look at things like data sovereignty, security – both digital and physical – redundancy, energy efficiency – ask your provider where your data would physically be held? How secure is the building? How secure is the platform? What accreditations are held by the providers you are looking at? What is their approach to cyber and information security like? What happens in an outage? Can you go on a tour of the facility? Can you take clients on tours of the facility?

Above all, what you need to remember is that the biggest risk is right technology, wrong provider – which can easily be a far more expensive mistake than the technology itself.

And be aware that not only do data centres and cloud work well together, but they actually enable each other – a cloud provider certainly needs a data centre and data centres these days rely on the offerings of cloud providers to best service their own customers with a range of interconnected solutions. So it’s not always a case of cloud or colo, cloud or on-prem, but instead – what technologies do we need to put in place to achieve our business goals and which providers can best support us on this journey.

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