DataBank: Helping to Deliver the Digital Revolution

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For Vlad Friedman, chief technology officer of DataBank, today's "digital revolution" is not an abstract idea. It's part of daily life.

"Whether you're using a mobile app or taking advantage of self-driving features as you wade through the morning commute, there are numerous pieces of infrastructure that must work together reliably to enable the digital revolution," says Friedman. "DataBank is part of a portfolio of companies unified in their vision of creating a platform to make it a reality, including data centers, fiber connectivity, and cellular towers. We are creating a stable foundation for tomorrow's mission-critical infrastructure at the utmost edge of the Internet."

Dallas-based DataBank operates a growing network of 20 state-of-the-art data centers throughout the U.S., enabling enterprises to deploy applications across a diverse range of technologies and platforms.

We recently spoke with Friedman to learn about DataBank's significant work to provide critical cloud infrastructure and the importance of being VMware Cloud Verified. He also touched on the importance of latency, the evolving edge of the network, and what he sees as the next big thing in hybrid cloud.

While everyone talks about the importance of hybrid cloud, Friedman insists that DataBank's approach is unique.

"Our vision is to become the most complete data center platform in the hybrid cloud marketplace. We've realized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution," he says. "Computationally intensive workloads like AI/ML are best suited for colocation, enterprise applications and databases are going to perform best within a private cloud, and applications with highly variable demand need the scalability the public cloud brings to the table.  Our differentiation lies within our ecosystem of platforms, managed security, and compliance solutions, by enabling the deployment of applications across multiple geographies and data centers in proximity to end-users with the connectivity, visibility and managed services required to ensure their performance, health, and security."

The Right Cloud Infrastructure in the Right Place

Friedman notes that DataBank's goal to empower customers to set up their infrastructure to be as close as possible to end-users – including those in Tier 2 metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City that we once only served by the large data hubs of Ashburn, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York – reflects a simple reality: Latency is a real issue.

"Today's end users expect a great experience, but there's no escaping that the farther you get away from compute, power and content, the more latency plays a role," he says. "That's when you begin to see the usual suspects like the slowing of applications, streaming technologies, jitter, or pixelization. But it's really about more.  Not only do applications slow when latency increases, but battery life suffers as well.  If the app on your cell phone spends 50% less time communicating with the cloud, then it uses half as much battery. As the world transitions to 5G and our workforces are less centralized, applications must be distributed and intentionally placed closer to the intended audience."

That's not to say that Friedman believes critical cloud infrastructure needs to be right next door. Rather, he believes it should be within a geographic area that delivers the latency required for today's increasingly data-intensive applications. DataBank's data centers are strategically located with this in mind.

"If you look at applications that require vast amounts of bandwidth and computational power – such as gaming, telemedicine, or automotive – you might not see a tremendous difference 100 miles away, but you will see issues if you're connecting to a data center 1,000 miles away," he says. "Some cars, for example, already generate a terabyte of data per day. Imagine trying to move all of that data long distances around the country. But it's not just those industries. All organizations benefit from low-latency workloads nationally distributed within strategically located, mission-critical facilities. And all organizations want to know their infrastructure is safe and secure."

The underlying technology is also crucial. Friedman notes that being VMware Cloud Verified resonates with customers.

"It's critical that our infrastructure be resilient, and our partnership and the toolsets provided by VMware are the foundational layers of our cloud enablement platform used to deliver scalability and reliability.   The VMware Cloud Verified program is reserved for a small handful of organizations that have demonstrated a deep understanding of how to implement VMware at scale, and it has been an important differentiator to demonstrate the maturity of our platforms.  It helps reassure prospective new customers that they are putting their trust into a provider that can support them.  We plan to continue to expand VMware to every part of our infrastructure from the data center to the edge allowing customers to utilize a single homogeneous platform no matter where they place their workloads."

Notably, DataBank is also VMware FedRAMP-certified hosting provider.

"What our customers are ultimately looking for is uptime," Friedman says. "I’m a big believer that we need to do everything possible to ensure infrastructure just works. VMware, with its high availability and resilience, achieves that. And the ways that VMware makes it easier to consume complex applications produce the outcomes our customers have come to expect. Ultimately we chose VMware because they make the best product. VMware helps us make our infrastructure boring so that we can focus on other ways to add value.”

And the next big thing in hybrid cloud?

“Containerization, as shown in VMware vSphere 7 with support for Kubernetes, marks a fundamental shift in how we will code applications,” Friedman says. “It’s going to drive the future of how infrastructure is rolled out.” 

Learn more about DataBank and its partnership with VMware here.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.