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Cloud Computing’s Impact on the On-Premise Data Center

November 25, 2013 No Comments

When envisioning a data center, you probably picture server racks, patch panels, cooling equipment, cabling, temperature alarms, and raised floors. However, when planning for the future, you’re better off reducing your data center from form to function. Rather than establishing what it is, think about what it does.

A recent article on offered some strong insight on how a cloud environment will co-exist with and, at times, reshape the data center as we’ve come to know it.

The data center can be broken down to applications, services, storage and connectivity. How each will function in a cloud-centric world is the million-dollar question.

Applications: This refers to programs which run on desktops and servers; these can be productivity suites like Office, Exchange email, SQL Server, Sharepoint, VMWare ESX server, finance programs (like Quickbooks Server), or an enterprise search program.

This is an area where many companies enter the cloud at the ground level, choosing their products in an à la carte fashion. For instance, some companies keep email in-house but perform accounting/finance functions online via a service.

Services: “Services” function as authentication mechanisms, monitoring and task schedulers. There can be a fine line between services and applications, so the defining difference should be whether it’s something that runs actively or as a background process.

Storage: Storage is about data, whether traditional information like Word documents or application-related files such as VMware virtual machines. If your email, file servers, and databases reside in the cloud, that eliminates the need for all related storage for these, not to mention any local backups you need to take.

However, be mindful of the fact some confidential data never can or should go off-site (your security team will be glad to assist you in sorting out the definition which is appropriate for your business).

Connectivity: Networks (both internal and external) have been and are going to remain a factor of crucial importance for companies, which is why it’s a great time to be a network engineer.

Unlike the other three categories, connectivity isn’t going anywhere. No matter where your applications, services and storage reside, if your users can’t get to these resources, you’re looking at some major headaches.

Some organizations will stay off the cloud entirely, either due to mandated requirements, internal decisions based on strategy, or concerns about privacy/lack of data control. Certainly, recent revelations about NSA spying may not have helped the cause of cloud computing. Although, there are some who feel the issue is overblown.

Gail Axelrod, of Bettercloud, provided some interesting statistics on cloud computing use in her recent blog post, “47 stats you need to know about the Google Apps ecosystem.” The statistics reveal the following:

  • * 30.2% of computing workloads are expected to run in the public cloud in 2018.
  • * 27% of business mailboxes worldwide are in the cloud.
  • * As of 2012 38% of businesses have adopted cloud computing with another 29% making plans to do so.
  • * On average 545 cloud services are used by an organization.



Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting

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