By Darren Watkins, Managing Director, VIRTUS Data Centres

Having promoted cloud computing technologies for more than a decade, IT experts could be forgiven for thinking that the industry has reached the peak of maturity. Cloud-based products are bettered by cloud-native systems, and enterprises are building compelling business cases for cloud-first policies, rather than the opportunistic and outdated practice of moving systems and services piecemeal to the cloud.

But the truth is that while industry vanguards are reaping the rewards of forward-looking cloud strategies, many enterprises remain in the very early stages of shifting to the cloud. While the efficiency and flexibility benefits are compelling, for many – particularly large organizations – the risk associated with unreliable connections and a dependence on third parties is just too great.

Ultimately, though, the biggest risk associated with cloud computing is in being surpassed by rivals who are quicker to adopt the technology. Digital disruption means that companies can no longer be complacent – they can either seize the opportunity, or see their business disappear.

Let’s Get Physical

Some have argued that cloud platforms will replace the need for physical infrastructure. That the cloud now provides businesses all the computing power they may need without the hassle and expense of maintaining their own infrastructure. But here’s the reality: every cloud application will reside somewhere, and most likely in a data center. Data centers are where the cloud lives and the gateway to cloud-centered IT; they provide colocation to extend or support cloud services.

VIRTUS Data Centres, a colocation specialist whose facilities are crucial intersections for major networks, is an example of this at work. Our experience tells us that every business who wants to benefit from the cloud should start its journey a bit closer to the ground. Together with choosing the right mix of public, private and hybrid cloud services to meet their individual and changing needs, organizations must look for cloud service providers who have the right data center capabilities to provide crucial security, connectivity and quality guarantees.  

On-Ramp to Cloud:  The Connectivity Factor

In a hybrid model, companies need to reach multiple cloud providers and other enterprises, exchange traffic and connect systems, platforms and applications. So, connectivity to the right carriers is critical if the cloud is to work. And, as businesses consume and connect more and more geographically dispersed devices and clouds, their appetite for network connectivity and bandwidth becomes even stronger.

Connectivity starts in the data center too. Companies should be aware that while some data center providers can build the best high performance computing platform and a facility that is cost-effective to run, without connectivity provisioning on-ramps to other clouds, businesses simply won’t be able to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy.

Specialist data centers will provide on-ramp to cloud services, so customers have direct access to multiple clouds that can work for them to provide increased computing power and performance. Forward-looking providers have made the investment of fully diverse multi sub-duct networks so carriers can easily interconnect and businesses can cross connect to a multitude of public clouds. They can easily put a piece of fiber from a company’s own systems straight in to Google, Amazon or Microsoft for the most direct connection. The most effective data center providers make it easy to connect public and private clouds to deliver high performance computing.

Colocation providers are already designed to be connected to multiple carriers, in a network neutral environment. This means that cloud providers can trust and rely on them and, in turn, the businesses they serve can be assured that their connectivity challenges are met.

The Right Partner for Long-Term Success

Few organizations can afford to invest in advanced networking capabilities themselves, so access to operator and interconnected networks comes hand in hand with third-party relationships. It’s crucial then that business choose the right partners to allay apprehensions around connectivity, uptime and reliability.

Best-in-class colocation providers already offer high grade infrastructure for cloud connectivity, including diverse fiber duct infrastructures and multiple network connectivities, that cloud providers can take advantage of without having to manage and run their own data center. These benefits are ultimately passed on, benefitting the organizations trying to leverage the potential of the cloud.

In the next ten years, the evolution of emerging technologies such as network functions virtualization, software-defined networks and Platform-as-a-Service will further challenge cloud and colocation providers who will need to adapt to support the scale and functionality needed by evolving businesses. And, the explosion of data which comes with connected technology – broadly the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of Everything –  will require even more processing power, bandwidth and network capability.

So, it’s vital that businesses build effective partner ecosystems, from cloud services providers to the colocators and data center firms that power them. And, we’d tell all organizations to begin any relationship by asking the tough questions: for guarantees around network connectivity, data security and uptime. And to look for assurances that they can support businesses’ rapidly evolving, and growing, needs.

Ultimately, while we talk at a high level about cloud being crucial to business success, to be truly disruptive, companies must leverage the cloud to innovate and differentiate. That means businesses must begin their journey a little closer to the ground, in the data center. Success begins by looking to the experts to help overcome connectivity issues, ensuring reliability, and promising adequate processing power.

Many commentators talk about meaningful cloud adoption being a journey — an iterative process that allows organizations to move faster and devote their resources to the things that matter. For us, it’s clear that for all but the most technically adept businesses, assistance and advice is vital in this. Guidance, support and partnership is crucial for a successful cloud future.


About the Author

Darren Watkins, Managing Director of VIRTUS Data Centres, began his career as a graduate Military Officer in the RAF before moving into the commercial sector. He brings over 20 years experience in telecommunications and managed services gained at BT, MFS Worldcom, Level3 Communications, Attenda and COLT. He joined the VIRTUS team from euNetworks where he was Head of Sales for the UK, leading market changing deals with a number of large financial institutions and media agencies, and growing the company’s expertise in low latency trading. Additionally, he sits on the board of one of the industry’s most innovative Mobile Media Advertising companies, Odyssey Mobile Interaction, and is interested in all new developments in this sector. Darren has an honours degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from University of Wales, College Swansea.