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The known unknowns: Managing between on-premise, cloud and colocation data centers

11 Apr 2017

The data center industry is in a state of flux as stakeholders search for the optimum model of high performance/low cost data centers.

“On premise” data centers now jockey with less traditional cloud and colocation approaches to provide users with a hybrid model that makes good business sense.

Managing across these different environments brings to mind a quote from Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush’s former Secretary of Defense.

Rumsfeld is credited with the following statement, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

For data center stakeholders to succeed in this dynamic environment, it’s easy to manage and plan for the “known knowns”. The challenge rests on how to prepare for and manage the risk of the known unknowns (that is, risks that have been identified but not addressed).

Forward-looking organizations will also need to contemplate some of the “unknown unknowns” so that future problems can be either avoided or, at the very least, minimized.

Identifying the “unknowns”

A recent Gartner report, entitled Deliver Data Center Modernization Using Three Cloud-Complementary Approaches does a good job of articulating some of the “knowns” surrounding the various data center business models.

According to the report, 40% of recent survey respondents indicated that, by 2020, their custom-built applications would be moving to the public cloud, 38% are choosing to keep these applications on-premise, and 22% plan on moving the applications to a colocation environment. *

So, we know in which direction the marketplace is moving over the next three years.  Listed below are some of the possible “known unknowns” from the report:

For colocation providers and their tenants, failing to adhere to power and cooling best practices will lead to higher costs.

Tools like the Schneider Electric’s Power and Cooling Efficiency Calculator help to match IT loads to the appropriate power and cooling capacities, thereby lowering costs and reducing downtime.

For those migrating to the cloud, some of the targeted applications will require renovation, modernization or replacement before being hosted in the cloud.

Data sovereignty requirements may also affect the rate at which some businesses are able to adopt cloud-based solutions.

A successful hybrid approach will account for and recognize the importance of on-premise data center assets.

According to Gartner, through 2020, more than 85% of enterprises adopting a cloud-first strategy will continue to host business-critical applications in traditional data center environments.

The unknown unknowns: Why the unpredictable behavior?

Why are data center stakeholders acting in what appears to be a contradictory manner (both abandoning and fortifying on-premise data centers at the same time)?  Some resist defaulting to only one data center hosting methodology (like the cloud). Instead, they wish to spread the risk.

Technology left behind at the “edge” is also becoming a critical connectivity point for local customers.

To address this issue, forward-looking data center leaders modernize the remaining on-premise sites to better manage the latency effects of data intensive local applications.

As confronting the unknown becomes more and more challenging, a sound policy is to seek guidance by accessing credible information surrounding data center industry issues. 

*Research Circle Survey conducted in June, 2016, among Gartner Research Circle Members — a Gartner-managed panel composed of IT and business leaders.

Article by Steven Carlini Schneider Electric Data Center Blog Network

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