Three Critical Components
of a Future-Proof
IT Strategy

Today’s CTOs and CIOs face greater challenges than ever before, particularly when it comes to managing their IT infrastructure.

What applications should run on premise?
Which workloads should move to the cloud?
What kind of strategy is best?

We live in a world now where both internal and external customers expect instantaneous access from anywhere in the world and from any number of devices.

So enterprises are faced with how to optimise cost, security and latency. It’s no surprise that 82% of organisations now have a multi-cloud strategy.1*

However, managing hybrid cloud adoption requires the savvy of an industry analyst who can see future trends, the acumen of a top cloud consultant able to navigate the complexities, and the mind of a strategist able to balance enterprise requirements, innovation and ROI across multiple environments.

Yet, in spite of the myriad of challenges surrounding adoption, organisations are undertaking the effort to move more of their workloads to the cloud.

Today 39% of enterprise workloads run in the cloud; in two years, that number will climb to 57%, 2* though cloud strategies are neither linear nor fixed. About one-fifth of early public cloud adopters have already moved applications from a public cloud into a private cloud, either on premise or hosted. *3

The number one driver for this migration is security and the second is the cost of high-volume public cloud computing. Practical and necessary as it now seems, in practice, implementing an effective hybrid cloud strategy is complex and time-consuming.

Hence, in this constantly changing marketplace, organisations need a data centre solution that can help future-proof their IT strategies by offering a full range of flexible choices to meet both current and future business requirements, without causing disruption or having them compromise on support.

1* RightScale, 2016 State of the Cloud Report
2* 451 Research, Voice of the Enterprise, State of Cloud Computing, 2016.
3* Ibid.

of organisations now have a multi-cloud strategy

of enterprise workloads run in the cloud today

of enterprise workloads will run in the cloud in 2019

A Future-Proof IT Strategy for the 21st Century

Today, IT organisations are often required to manage multiple provider relationships to round out both their internal IT architecture and the solutions they take to market. Each colocated data centre provider has its own account team, support team and legal agreements.

Also, connectivity within each data centre involves additional providers who each come with their own account team, support team and contractual vehicle. Each time a company’s data centre needs to expand or change—requiring additional real estate or new services—the procurement process begins all over again.

The resulting tangle of contracts is often time-consuming, making it difficult for a company to focus on its core business effectively. It also increases the time it takes them to bring new products to market.

data-centre-pic

From Data Centre Fantasy to Reality

In an ideal world, IT organisations, large and small, would partner with a single data centre provider to manage all of their computing resources as well as their connectivity to multiple networks. Everything would be serviced by a single account team, a single support team and through a single contractual vehicle. The resulting simplicity would afford technology providers and IT organisations the agility to serve their clients better and go to market faster.

Streamlined access to an ecosystem of service-provider partners would help businesses solve the “data centre dilemma” by allowing them to add and subtract bandwidth, network and computational services based on their changing business needs. In this ideal world, enhanced operational efficiency and the ability to scale easily would help organisations avoid costly mistakes and turn in profitable new directions faster, essentially making their IT operations future-proof.

For smaller IT organisations that currently don’t have the need—or the resources—to procure space in such a data centre, as well as for large cloud and network service providers whose growth has been inhibited by their current facilities, or service agreements, this sort of data centre environment may sound like a fantasy.

The truth is, data centres are evolving, and as they do, are coming closer to the one-stop solution companies of all sizes are seeking.

Let’s take a closer look at the three critical components of a future-proof IT environment: Connectivity, Agility, and Scalability.

Critical Component 1:
Connectivity — Fast, Secure and Flexible

The first critical component of a future-proof IT environment is connectivity. In the most basic sense, connectivity is about establishing a virtual or physical connection between two entities, such as a cloud services provider and a customer.

Organisations typically consume cloud-based services through the Internet, either publicly by typing a web address in a browser and consuming the services, or privately, by creating a VPN tunnel through the Internet to establish a private connection through a public architecture. However, the future-proof IT environment offers alternative ways to connect to a provider from within the data centre. These private connections are highly secure and greatly minimise latency because traffic is not routed through the maze of the Internet.

The traditional way of establishing connectivity within the data centre is via a cross connect. In a cross connect, multiple organisations occupy space that is colocated within a data centre and connect in a Meet-Me-Room (MMR). Inside an MMR, companies can utilise direct fibre connectivity to an onramp for large computing resources. For example, a company may be able to access Amazon Web Services (AWS) directly within a New York City computing resources that power AWS are located elsewhere.

These private connections are highly secure and greatly minimise latency because traffic is not routed through the maze of the Internet.

Alternatively, organisations can connect via an exchange platform, such as Digital Realty’s Service Exchange, which allows a customer to establish a direct, private virtual connection to multiple service providers and data centres from a single, physically redundant port. Service Exchange also enables self-service capabilities, allowing customers to actively create and manage new connections, as well as increase and decrease the bandwidth of existing ones. This type of exchange platform is a good choice for organisations that consume multiple cloud services for short or unpredictable periods of time.

Finally, the future-proof IT environment should offer direct connectivity to actual computing nodes within the data centre campus versus only using an onramp, which may not be optimised for latency. This direct access offers the benefit of close proximity, which means that if an organisation is very close to the cloud services it’s consuming, it’s possible for their network to perform complex computing tasks much faster and easier than would otherwise be the case. This type of proximity is particularly important for high-performance storage, financial exchanges that rely on low latency applications, and for delivery of content-rich applications across devices and geographies.

Direct connectivity to cloud providers is also ideal for use cases that span regions. Consider the importance of business continuity, where proximity to the cloud can support seamless failover and/ or disaster recovery. Proximity to cloud providers speeds penetration to new markets, as both existing infrastructure and the infrastructure in the new region can be supported through direct connectivity.

Equally important, the future-proof IT environment should offer not one or two connectivity options, but a whole range to accommodate your enterprise, especially as its use of technology becomes more sophisticated or complex. Your organisation may not require direct connectivity today, but as you scale and experiment with innovative technologies and embrace new partners, you may find it necessary to upgrade your connectivity. Some tasks, such as performing advanced analytics on big data, simply won’t work if there’s high latency between the private and public cloud infrastructures. Reduced latency can also enable you to go to market faster, generate revenue faster, and serve customers faster.

Your Data Is Safe with A Private Connection

In addition to lower latency, a private connection offers a more direct route to computing resources. While it’s simpler to enable a cross connect between two organisations or to enable a virtual cross connect between a provider and a customer, routing traffic across the Internet can be unpredictable and not support stringent service level agreements requiring a certain quality of service. Relying on the Internet can result in throughput and bandwidth challenges impacting the speed of business.

A private connection is also far more secure than connecting to a provider over the Internet. Some organisations aren’t permitted to consume services or pass sensitive data over the public Internet due to security concerns and regulatory compliance requirements. However, secure, private connectivity to external resources may make it possible for organisations in highly regulated industries to consume cloud resources.

Critical Component 2:
Agility—Flexibility in Deployment

The second component of a future-proof IT environment is agility, a concept not typically associated with data centres today, but an attribute essential to elastic hybrid cloud deployments.

Shifting between public and private cloud architectures needs to be as seamless as possible, supporting predictable workloads while smoothly handling spikes generated by high performance analytics and seasonality.

A future-proof IT environment ideally offers a range of services meeting a varied set of customer demands, in order to provide support for both current and emerging business models, with commercial terms that align with customers’ go-to-market strategies. Agility delivers the flexibility to provision services as needed through a self-service customer portal or, if preferred, in consultation with an account manager.

As a concrete example, consider colocation. Effective colocation requires flexibility in deployment. Depending on the amount of equipment you have, your space requirement can range from a couple of racks inside a cabinet, to a cage, to an entire suite, all within a secured building including redundancies built-in to support power, cooling and connectivity.

An Agile Data Centre Can Save You Money

Agility also means ease of connectivity. At the very minimum, the future-proof IT environment offers connectivity to the Internet so that the data housed within the equipment can reach the outside world. The key to making the data centre future-proof is offering access to a multitude of different network and cloud service providers via the data centre’s MMRs, especially in key markets such as London, New York and the San Francisco Bay area.

The ability to access a variety of different services from a single location not only simplifies your network architecture but also reduces costs. Other ancillary services can include the ability for an enterprise to connect a primary deployment to a disaster recovery or backup deployment in another facility.

Critical Component 3:
Scalability— Limitless Growth

The third and final requirement for a future-proof IT environment is scalability. Organisations must have access to all the capabilities they will ever need as well as the unlimited ability to grow as new opportunities present themselves.

A future-proof IT environment provider enables customers to procure additional capacity quickly to support speed to market.

Some data centre providers limit the amount of space each tenant organisation can consume because more customers means more revenue. A future-proof IT environment provider enables you to start as small as you like, whether that be one rack or one cabinet, and grow your largest deployments to accommodate increasingly bigger workloads, even if that means taking up an entire facility—or multiple facilities.

With no barriers to growth and access to Internet gateways and carrier hotels, every piece of the puzzle can come together within one environment, empowered by our new industry solution we call the Connected Campus.

Introducing the Connected Campus

The Connected Campus brings all the critical data centre, network and cloud connectivity elements together in a single, secure environment, offering a combination of:

• Connectivity
Colocation and large scale facilities tethered to Internet gateways, in close proximity to clouds and networks

• Agility 
Seamless interconnectivity to a growing ecosystem of partners, customers and service providers

• Scalability
Scalability in space, power and bandwidth to meet current business requirements and support future growth based on specific incremental needs.

There are many benefits to deploying your equipment in the Connected Campus. It’s why we refer to this IT environment as future-proof. Regardless of what happens in your industry or how your business needs evolve, the Connected Campus gives you access to the technology you need when you need it, without limitations in space, power, computing resources or support. It also positions your network infrastructure for long-term requirements and limits risk arising from rapidly changing market conditions.

The Connected Campus gives you the ability to take advantage of the large ecosystem of partners as well as a variety of connectivity options. But there’s more to it than that. New cloud services are being introduced every day, which makes determining what works best for your business more of a challenge.

The Connected Campus gives you the agility to try new services and experiment at will. You can add and subtract cloud and connectivity services, move some to a private architecture, decide whether you need virtual connections within our Service Exchange or require direct fibre to a particular partner for a mission-critical use case. Your choices become close to limitless when a robust partner ecosystem places numerous solution options at your fingertips.

You’re the Boss of Your Cloud-Based Services

Because your organisation has direct control over its consumption of cloud-based services and these are all managed under a streamlined contractual process, the Connected Campus also offers cost efficiency, by enabling you to choose the type of connectivity that makes the most sense for your consumption patterns.

If you’re consuming a variety of cloud services at variable rates, then our Service Exchange makes sense as it allows customers to select various billing increments (i.e. per hour/per day/per month) based on their requirements for a certain amount of bandwidth for a given time. However, if you’re consuming services more consistently, a direct fibre connection may be more cost effective.

We cannot overstate the value of scalability. Successful companies grow fast, sometimes unexpectedly so. Our Connected Campus can accommodate any rate of growth, even if the pace of business slows. What’s more, it provides industry-leading service availability guarantees, a must for any organization judged by the quality of service it provides its customers.

Security is the cornerstone of the Connected Campus. For large-scale deployments, the Connected Campus enables each customer to create the secure environment they need for their services. In terms of network security, the Connected Campus offers a private fibre connection, which is the most secure connection possible between any two organisations, because the data stays within their own private connection. There’s no router or equipment between the connections that could interfere with the data. This is critical for organisations operating in highly regulated environments, where enabling secure connectivity is required for regulatory compliance.

Whether you’re a small startup or an enterprise with a multi-cloud architecture, staying competitive requires connectivity, agility and scalability.

Bringing Simplicity to Hybrid Cloud Deployment

Finally, the Connected Campus offers simplicity. Many organisations see a need to move to hybrid cloud architectures, but encounter a number of challenges as they do so. The Connected Campus helps to simplify the network architecture as well as the effort required to deploy and manage a hybrid cloud and is now available in Digital Realty locations such as Ashburn, Dallas/Richardson, Chicago/Franklin Park, New York, London and Others. *4

4 For a list of locations, see https://www.digitalrealty.com/data-center-solutions/connected-campus/

Conclusion

Organisations need a data centre that supports today’s fast-growing, highly competitive business environment, a data centre that also delivers the services and scalability that organisations will need tomorrow. Whether you’re a small startup or an enterprise with a multi-cloud architecture, staying competitive requires connectivity, agility and scalability.

The Connected Campus is the single, secure, and scalable environment that allows your business to adapt, to innovate, and to succeed.

If you expect to grow your business and want to enable the digital transformation of your organisation, contact Digital Realty to learn more

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About Digital Realty

Digital Realty supports the data centre and colocation strategies of more than 1,000 firms across its secure, network-rich portfolio of data centres located throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Digital Realty’s clients include domestic and international companies of all sizes, ranging from financial services, cloud and information technology services, to manufacturing, energy, gaming, life sciences and consumer products.

www.digitalrealty.co.uk