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Cloud computing’s X factor for data centers

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By Prassana Sarambale, CEO – Data Center & Group Head – BD, Sterling & Wilson

Today’s enterprise networks transcend traditional perimeters due to increasing customer, user and supplier engagement over ever evolving digital touchpoints. Now envisioned as more than physical facilities, enterprise data center requirements revolve around agility, scale, efficiency, collaboration, security, CAPEX reduction and compliance. This is where cloud computing makes its presence in the enterprise.

IT advisory 451 Research highlights this development, with its estimation of approximately 80% of global data center space (by square footage) belonging to enterprises in 2015. It is expected to drop below 75% by 2020 due to migration of workloads from enterprise-owned sites into cloud and co-location facilities.

Cloud computing’s inroads into the data center space has been far from exponential—more on the lines of steady year on year growth. Yet, it introduces disruptive build out and service delivery potential to data center ecosystems. Attesting to this trend is IT research firm Gartner, Inc.’s findings, which peg Indian public cloud computing market revenues at USD 2.5 billion in 2018, a 37 percent growth from its USD 1.8 billion figure in 2017. A significant chunk of these spends will be on infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which will total USD 1 billion—up by 46 percent since last year.

Users often perceive of cloud computing models as the means to reduce processing at data center levels—this is not the case. Point in case is IDC’s 2017 CloudView Survey. Over 40% of survey respondents mention possible evaluations to run big data projects on private clouds over the next 24 months. IDC forecasts indicate growth in investments on public cloud, off-premises and on-premises private cloud by double-digits. Off-premises cloud IT infrastructure is expected to attain a CAGR of 12% by 2021.

Clearly, hybrid clouds and multi-cloud adoption are optimal routes for many organizations. Such architectures bank on optimal utilization and scalable service delivery of on-premise data centers, private clouds, leveraging of public cloud-based infrastructure, and software as a service (SaaS).

End to end gains
Cloud computing is a major enabler in the evolution of enterprise IT teams towards that of a higher performance function.

Cost savings are among the primary reasons cited by business leaders and IT teams alike for the adoption of cloud computing. In order to derive proper insights, it’s essential to consider this aspect along with aspects such as improved IT flexibility, greater employee productivity and enhanced collaboration.

Savings extend beyond hardware and software costs for most cloud computing adopters. The real savings lie on maintenance and support fronts. Cloud computing’s centralized maintenance models substantially reduce the need for in-house support personnel, which translates to lesser headcounts, recruitment, retention and skillset update overheads. In-house IT skillsets are typically utilized for high-value business activities by most cloud computing users. On the data center facilities front, users leverage advantageous base prices (in terms of real estate, power, and cooling) from cloud players due to economies of scale.

Improved IT flexibility is perhaps the most salient aspect from a technology adoption standpoint. On this front, BFSI and telecom lead in terms of utilization of cloud computing for faster go to market strategies. These highly competitive verticals require latest hardware as well as software for rapid product and service rollouts — a cloud computing forte. Rapid provisioning, scaling and reduced license dependencies ensure never before seen on-demand capabilities. When clubbed with spend decreases, flexible cloud models enable lower priced offerings that meet fast changing customer demands.

Outcome-based roll outs are a key part of cloud computing strategies, as opposed to traditional technology deployment. These approaches empower employee mobility. Better versioning along with improved information discovery enhances employee collaboration and associated productivity gains.

The road ahead
The data center arena is set to witness a sea change, thanks to cloud computing’s path-breaking potential. Gartner estimates indicate that IT spends in excess of USD 1.3 trillion will be directly or indirectly influenced due to cloud computing migrations by 2022.

Developments such as Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), event-driven computing models, and upcoming 5G network-based intelligent applications will drive the shift towards radical data center- and cloud-based distributed processing models.

A unique feature of these future architectures will be the radical evolution of existing hybrid cloud models. These highly flexible vendor-agnostic workloads will span across multiple public and private cloud architectures. Seamless centralized management will be a salient feature of these responsive autonomous models. Many of these public and private clouds are likely to be hosted at geographic locations far from the enterprise data center—even disconnected at times.

Interesting times lie in store for enterprises, data center implementers, professionals and service providers on the cloud computing front. Co-location, infrastructure and technology players with tailor-made strategies will reap rich dividends in times to come. In terms of power management, cloud computing players will leverage advances right from generation, all the way up to the rack and CPU levels. Cooling technologies will also witness similar paradigm shifts. This will result in greener, more cost-effective, yet premium cloud offerings.

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