Over the past two years, we have seen a sharp rise in the different types of computing platforms that are available to organisations. Companies are now able to choose from building their own data centres, deploying traditional colocation in a data centre or using a range of virtualised or cloud computing services.
One of the many cloud options is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) -- the rental of virtualised computing processing, memory, data storage and networking for the purpose of running an operating system. It offers many of the benefits that other areas of cloud computing do -- notably reduced costs -- and this is the area that I would like to focus on, because it is where we are seeing dramatic change.
I firmly believe that the vast majority of organisations will migrate from on-site data centres and colocation to IaaS within the next two years. Don't be left behind.
Michel Robert, Managing Director, Claranet UK,
Until recently, implementation levels for IaaS have been low, mainly because of associated connectivity costs. However, in the past six months this has changed. IaaS has become much more economically viable and is experiencing soaring levels of demand. This is for two key reasons.
IaaS comes of age
First, last year the cost of Ethernet connectivity to sites in the U.K. fell considerably; this, in turn, makes IaaS a much more appealing option. Ethernet to the site effectively extends the LAN from the office to the data centre, enabling many applications that require high speeds and low latency connectivity to the clients.
Second, most companies have been (and many remain) unaware of how to calculate the cost savings generated by moving to IaaS and therefore are unable to prepare a comprehensive business case. The data centre and related services have traditionally been part of the IT department's budget, but IaaS offers savings to a wide range of business areas. To accurately calculate the cost savings of moving to an IaaS model, businesses need to bring in several departments.
Key areas to include in calculations are:
IT staffing and costs
IaaS requires less in-house expertise; therefore, the cost implications of having IT staff with different skills, retraining staff or even having fewer staff should be considered. Organisations will free up the time of their IT employees who can focus on delivering IT improvements to the business rather worrying about a data centre. The department will enjoy reduced maintenance bills, as infrastructure is now virtual.
Virtualisation results in reduced energy bills. Fewer on-site racks mean lower overall power consumption from servers, cooling devices and UPSs. Businesses moving from an on-premise data centre to IaaS may even be able to remove their local data centre entirely, taking with it the associated energy bills. Fewer on-premise servers also translate into lower property insurance bills and may improve business continuity planning.
Financial director's office
If you have your own data centre and are able to remove or greatly reduce it by moving to IaaS, you need to consider the rent paid or the money that could be made by reusing, selling or leasing the space the data centre takes. It is also important to consider the high business rates you pay on that floor space. If, after moving to an IaaS model, you give up the area by selling or ending the lease, you could make a considerable saving on your rates.
If your office already has LAN speed connectivity or plans to implement it in the near future, the costs of IaaS related connectivity will be low compared to the connectivity costs for data centre colocation. The IT and financial director should include future connectivity in any discussion about co location, hosting or virtualisation.
In short, the savings from IaaS are wide-spread.
Two areas for consideration
However, for many organisations, IaaS security remains a concern. Fortunately, this should no longer be an issue for some service providers. A good provider should offer your organisation dedicated, not contended resources, guaranteeing a high level of security in a location that you can inspect.
For other companies, the effort of finding an IaaS provider and then sourcing the connectivity can prove too much. Again, there is a simple solution to this: Choose an IaaS provider that can also offer you the level of connectivity your organisation requires at a reasonable cost.
Physical to virtual migration is much more effective than ever before, and costs associated with cloud computing are decreasing all the time. Consequently, the business case for owning a small data centre in your office or pure colocation is becoming less convincing by the day. In fact, in many cases the cost reductions associated with IaaS make it worth breaking existing colocation contracts. Based on this, I firmly believe that the vast majority of organisations will migrate from on-site data centres and colocation to IaaS within the next two years. Don't be left behind.
Michel Robert, is the Managing Director of vendor-independent managed service provider Claranet U.K. and a contributor to SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk.
This was first published in May 2010