Lots of attention is being paid to how hybrid IT or multicloud fits into data-first business transformation, yet plenty of companies count colocation facilities as an important pillar of their IT landscape. Why? They offer scalability, agility, and cost-efficiency advantages as a way to power up data-first business without onerous data center investments.
Driven by data gravity as well as new opportunities to innovate at the edge, enterprises are shifting toward decentralized IT architectures. This includes embracing colocation to address the challenges of global coverage and edge capacity. Investment in state-of-the-art facilities and modern technologies — coupled with burgeoning partner ecosystems spanning cloud, network, and telecommunications capabilities — positions colocation as a reliable foundation for business continuity. Specifically, colocation delivers high levels of physical protection, redundancy for data backup and power sources, low-latency connectivity options, and capacity to accommodate bursting, among other benefits.
Compared to building and managing expensive onsite data centers, colocation can be a more cost-effective option for companies trying to get out of the data center business, freeing them to double down on their core business functions. With bundled services in areas such as support, security, redundancy, and management — along with access to state-of-the-art compute, bandwidth, power, and cooling capabilities — colocation can offer a level of performance and sophistication that isn’t feasible for organizations trying to run and maintain a data center with limited resources and IT budgets. The colocation model also has advantages for companies wanting to repatriate workloads from the public cloud for cost, performance, or compliance reasons without overwhelming their own data centers and internal IT organizations.
Enterprises are taking note of the upsides and ramping up adoption of colocation services. According to Allied Market Research, the global data center colocation market is expected to surge from $46.08 billion in 2020 to $202.71 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 15.7%. Businesses are increasingly bullish on colocation for a variety of reasons, from the ability to easily scale operations to gaining access to a huge ecosystem of partners, services, and interconnection options, says Scott Thomson, worldwide alliances manager for colocation at HPE.
“Colocation allows customers to be in a data center that gives them the control they would have in their own data center, but with the investment and level of facilities that large global providers can provide through their aggregating partners,” Thomson explains. “Colocation organizations have seen a change from being predominantly about space and power to being about leveraging their scale to provide faster on-ramps and connection points for their customers.”
Integrating Colocation Into the IT Estate
Colocation adds another robust layer to a hybrid IT estate, but there are challenges to making the move and ensuring seamless integration. Among the biggest obstacles companies need to work through are the following:
- Readiness and planning. Like any other big move, migrating from an on-premises data center to a colocation strategy requires up-front assessment and planning. Everything from specifying the type, number, and placement of the racks and servers to the actual migration requires manpower as well as project management expertise. “It’s a big job,” Thomson notes. “It requires a lot of planning and design from a technical and project perspective.”
- Ongoing maintenance and operation. Although the data center is no longer physically on-premises, the day-to-day operations and oversight remain the responsibility of the internal IT organization. Colocation facilities provide the physical security, interconnections, and energy and cooling management, but IT is still the primary caretaker of the environment. “While organizations look to colocation to get out of the data center business, they still need to support and manage the environment and make the right choices with their provider,” he explains.
- Managing costs. Moving to colocation incurs two types of costs: the nonrecurring expenses associated with the migration and setup, which can be quite large, along with the monthly recurring expenses based on capacity used, power consumption, and other factors. Organizations sometimes opt to back-burner a colocation move because they don’t want to shoulder significant up-front costs.
The HPE GreenLake Advantage
To serve as a successful pillar of the IT foundation, colocation must become an integrated part of the entire data estate and provide complete visibility into data and workloads at the edge. HPE has forged strategic partnerships with colocation providers such as Equinix, CyrusOne, and Digital Realty to ensure access to a rich ecosystem of offerings, robust interconnection options, and geographically distributed locations. The partner contract affords customers access to an integrated HPE GreenLake experience available through a monthly consumption-based invoice that includes the nonrecurring setup fees, eliminating the hefty up-front cost burden.
With the addition of HPE GreenLake managed and professional services, the colocation environment becomes part of a single service delivery experience. HPE handles the up-front design of data center space in addition to the purchase and support of the requisite equipment and services. It also delivers access to experts fluent in HPE technologies as well as in facilities management who can provide additional support and augment the existing IT organization.
The HPE GreenLake services team can do everything from colocation readiness assessment to designing the data center — and then oversee the implementation of infrastructure. It also manages the relationship with the colocation partner and handles the day-to-day running of data center operations.
“We’re bringing customers a world of abstracted infrastructure and making the data center disappear essentially,” Thomson says. “We’re giving the level of control customers would have if the data center were their own, without the hassle of having it in their own environment.”
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