Data centers have long been a source of awe and wonder to non-techies…and they have also long been a source of power for those who have “racked and stacked” and kept things running. It is time to move out of the traditional data center and into the cloud.
Now, I’m not taking anything away from those who have spent countless hours at night and on weekends making sure that mission-critical servers are running. While every once in a while the Sys Admins or Network Analysts will be commended for some heroic act of IT, “the data center people” have largely gone unnoticed and under-appreciated (and many times their personalities have kept them out of the spotlight). So first off, a big round of applause for your IT infrastructure staff.
Now as I mentioned, data centers have also been a source of power for some of the more savvy infrastructure staff. Given that most people – especially executives – don’t know and don’t want to know the details of the data center, many data centers have been overlooked when it comes to finding efficiency or cost-reductions. With a few well-placed technical terms, many just say, “…ok, you take care of whatever we need to keep it running…just explain to me how much it will cost…”. So for some in the IT infrastructure business, there has long been little oversight or cost-cutting. As long as the network continues to work and customers have connectivity, why rock the boat?
The reason why the data center elephant needs to be called out in the room is because of the pace of change that we all have to deal with now and in the future.
It’s easy to find news stories about the increasing pace of change. In a recent Financial Times story , I just love the quote: “…the ability of humans to make sense of it all may not be increasing at the same rate as innovation activity overall.” I think this is absolutely true and the unconscious anxiety of not understanding all the change is why many fall back to a very low common denominator resulting in many really bad reality shows . In fact, it has even spawned new terms like, “Hate Watch”, to justify watching them while still being cool….but I’m getting way off topic…
The thing is that business is changing incredibly fast and you need to figure out how to harness that energy or at least survive it. In a Forbes article this summer, they covered a report that outlined where job growth in the economy was found. Specifically they were talking about the “middle market” being a driver for new jobs…not the big companies that everyone thinks about. Now what does that have to do with data centers and “the cloud”? If you read closely, they talk about how these smaller companies are “more agile” than the biggies. So to capitalize on new opportunities, companies have to figure out how to be nimble and quick…and moving to cloud infrastructure will do that.
As further evidence, I know a company that took weeks just to sign a deal with a new data center vendor…and it then took months to create all their servers in that new space…that’s crazy. With cloud infrastructure, I can create a server in just a few minutes…and that will be in a private cloud network, already have good administrative tools set up, monitoring alerts also set up in just a few minutes and back-ups are automatic. That’s agile.
Further, with traditional data centers, you have incremental costs for support and maintenance as you expand…and then you have to deal with all the old hardware when you grow or it ages. So even if the time-to-market doesn’t get you, the overall total cost of ownership should. Fortunately, cloud solutions have come a long way in the last few years. So the security that they bring is likely better than what your staff put together.
There are several good cloud options. Right in my virtual back-yard, we have a good cloud solution with folks that have the discipline to do things right and keep your systems safe and running well. I have a huge respect for all the folks who had to install and support traditional infrastructure in the past. Let’s free them up to explore more innovation by moving to the cloud. If not, you just have your head in the sand.