A physical facility with rows of hardware components with lights blinking is a familiar scene in many movie scenes we have witnessed. These are none other than the data centers that house an organization’s critical data. You could encounter multiple hardware components in a data center, like routers, switches, servers, firewalls, storage systems, and controllers. Each data center gets designed as per the need to house the networking and computing resources that work behind the scenes to run the different applications. A modern data center is no longer what we have visualized here. All the physical servers have become virtual networks on the cloud. Data gets distributed across multiple data centers, which could be a combination of both on-premise and cloud environments. The cloud provider provides the data center resources when applications get hosted in the cloud.
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Types of data centers:
Generally, the data centers are classified based on ownership, topology fitment, technologies that power their computing capabilities, storage, and energy efficiency.
- Enterprise data center – These data centers are optimized for end users and built and owned by corporates on their campuses.
- Managed services data center – A third party is contracted to assist with managing the data centers on behalf of the corporate company. Generally, the required equipment and infrastructure are leased and not bought. Amongst the Managed services data center, there are two sub-types:
- Partially managed data center – There is an agreement between the MSP and the company on what infrastructure and resource support is required and what gets managed in-house.
- Fully managed data center – The MSP entirely runs the show.
- Colocation data center – A data center that a company owns while another company rents some space within the data center is a colocated data center. In this case, the data center’s location will not be on company premises. Bandwidth, storage, and cooling are all hosted along with other infrastructure in this colocation data center, while the company manages servers, storage, and other components.
- Cloud data centers – In this case, a cloud service provider like AWS (Amazon Web Services) will host the data and applications in an off-premise model.
Is it the right time to move to managed data centers?
Legacy technologies bring a lot of hidden costs like downtime, stress, and reduced productivity. Security is also severely compromised when you use those traditional systems and infrastructure. Companies cannot mitigate sophisticated security threats with aging cybersecurity applications and tools. Hence most companies face the question of analyzing the costs and benefits to make an informed choice in migrating the data center to the cloud and choosing the right managed services provider.
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The managed data center services market is expected to reach USD 600 billion by 2026. Increased data demand and data management will trend for the next few years, and data storage needs will explode in the coming years. However, when you look at the competitive landscape, the market is mainly fragmented, with a few technology giants being the big players in the market. Amongst the geographies, population growth, coupled with the 5G boom, will cause the Asia Pacific to create a data surge, and all global organizations will experience the ripples.
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In order to build a resilient data center that evolves with your company’s needs and is more manageable and scalable, one has to identify the core processes involved.
- Modular design – Provides more flexibility in allowing the architects to add or remove the components as required. Complete modernization is achieved when we have the capability to add or remove any component from the infrastructure on-demand and avoid over-provisioning. Also, the different modules should be interchangeable, and the overall data center management should be streamlined to operate via a single console.
- Convergence – In a recent trend, converged data centers employ fewer dedicated resources and show improved levels of efficiency. Recently we have started using flash memories alongside other storage devices to create a hybrid storage option that is a hundred times faster than traditional architectures.
- Software-driven data centers – Unfortunately, expensive hardware in data centers is neither flexible nor portable. These hardware components are supported by application-specific integrated circuits and cannot be upgraded to the latest software. Creating a distributed software layer allows the hardware to be centrally controlled and fully automated. This layer enables provisioning new services without additional hardware and drastically cuts your costs. Uptime and scalability are also boosted in this case.
- Commodity hardware – Data center upgradation every five years with newer equipment is costly. In order to scale fast with minimum investment, we need to follow the innovation employed by Google in running low-cost commodity hardware to power its cloud services. Again here we have a distributed software layer with a cluster of commodity nodes alongside which the resources are abstracted. The capacity generated thereby surpasses traditional architectural designs.
- Empowering the end users – Apart from enterprise applications, there are multiple virtual applications from which employees connect remotely. All these need to be handled by the data center and continue being resilient and reliable. Admins must ensure all the applications and data are centralized within the data center and allow easy access from any geography where your employee or customer chooses to operate from. To address the additional demands brought on by the remote ways of working, data center managers need to modernize their data centers and deal effectively with new-generation computer-intensive applications.
- Reducing technology silos – As we need a specialized workforce to manage each department within a data center, it has added to the costs and complexity of managing a data center. Data management, archiving, and networking are some departments requiring specialized skills within any data center. By integrating these different departments that function as separate silos, we can build a single data center building block that is scalable and optimized for efficiency and costs.
- Hybrid offering – By going hybrid, organizations can enjoy the best of both worlds in terms of using a public and private cloud. While confidential and critical applications sit on your private cloud and the data resides in a private data center, other applications and data can use the public cloud. Resource-sharing across multiple tenants can be achieved in both public and private clouds. Still, the organization’s strategy would determine the amount of control they would like to accomplish on their security and service level agreement with managed services providers.
- Service continuity – It has become necessary to provide a hundred percent uptime and reliability to ensure user demands get met in the current generation. A disaster recovery mechanism is reactive in nature, and the need to be proactive in ensuring service continuity will ensure users do not use unauthorized cloud services. To achieve this high availability, data centers need to have a lot of bandwidth and low round-trip times. Distributed architecture spanning multiple sites and regions also helps improve the overall uptime.
The managed services provider performs critical activities not limited to provisioning. Configuring and administration. Additionally, they take care of server monitoring, auditing assessments, database monitoring, and remote database administration services. They enhance the value of the company’s IT infrastructure by scaling to meet increased data needs, providing enhanced accountability, and flexibility in accommodating new services and improving overall performance through automation.
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In order to be competitive, data centers need to adapt quickly and scale up storage capacity and data computing ability on demand without spending a lot of money on the infrastructure. Intelligent management of data centers by specialists will solve most of these problems and ensure cost optimization in the long term. For a long time now, legacy infrastructure coupled with outdated technology has been a significant impediment to technology transformation initiatives. An insight from a survey indicates that 64% of technologists point to this impact due to legacy hardware. In a strategic cloud survey, 79% of decision-makers said they work with multiple cloud vendors, not just one. A trusted MSP offers a proven transition process, clearly defining the various deliverables, expectations, and service level timelines. The managed services provider should measure the key performance indicators, and the MSP should also be able to measure the value drawn from the engagement. Improvements in downtime, reliability, and performance directly translate into cost savings for any organization.