Cloud versus Colo or Cloud and Colo?
The cloud versus colocation (or hybrid?) debate remains unsettled. While there is clearly a “pivot” to the cloud, there is also still clear resistance. But at the end of the day, it’s all digital infrastructure.
This is the second in a series of five blog posts reflecting the top-of-mind issues discussed during the most recent Infrastructure Masons Advisory Council meeting.
It’s a debate as old as Pepsi versus Coke. As contentious as Yanny versus Laurel.
It’s cloud versus colocation.
There are obvious benefits – and risks – on both sides.
The most oft-cited reason for colocation over cloud is security, especially for risk-averse organizations in highly regulated industries. “80% of enterprises aren’t able to put revenue generating apps in the public cloud,” said one Advisory Council member, a partner. “There are a lot of organizations that haven’t migrated to the cloud because they can’t or it’s too expensive to do it,” explained one end user.
One partner suggested that some CIOs resist moving to the cloud because they think they and their teams can get the job done better than clouds providers. Or at least maintaining the status quo is less risky. “They keep it inside because they think, ‘At least I can blame my people as opposed to the CEO and board blaming me.’”
There is an increasing willingness to move to the cloud, even among organizations with strict requirements like HIPAA and PCI DSS. One partner called it ‘the pivot’: “At the end of the day it’s the app team’s ability to migrate to resilient systems or infrastructure not owned by us that’s driving the pivot” to the cloud.
“At the end of the day it’s the app team’s ability to migrate to resilient systems or infrastructure not owned by us that’s driving the pivot.” – Click to tweet
One end user explained his rationale for being in the cloud: time to market. “We don’t have HIPAAcompliant facilities in our data center portfolio. The big cloud providers do. So I told the team, ‘If time to market for our new health app is important, then it has to be cloud.’”
“We don’t have HIPAA compliant facilities in our data center portfolio. Why would I want to build that when I can get it as a service?” – Click to tweet
Is it generational?
One partner member suggested that differing opinions about the wisdom of colocation versus cloud might be generational. “The generation of CIOs that believe they have to hold things close in order to control them will be replaced over next 20 years with generation of Millennials who grew up with everything in the cloud.”
“Not only that but Millennials grew up in an environment where things fail and you don’t always have access,” said one partner. As an example, he said, “my daughter is much more comfortable with app downtime than my wife is. My wife says, ‘You should go build them a new data center.’ My daughter says, ‘I’ll wait 5 minutes or I’ll go to another app.’ ”
“CIOs who believe that on-prem equals control will be replaced by Millennials who grew up in the cloud.” – Click to tweet
Or maybe the pivot is the result of a rising generation of people who understand the vulnerability of data – and the fact that it may be impossible to account for all vulnerabilities. “The question is, ‘Is there any data that’s not vulnerable?’” asked one end user. “Maybe that’s the generational shift – acceptance that data can’t be protected.”
Not cloud or colo, but cloud and colo: A hybrid approach
Perhaps most common of all are the situations where you would want colo and cloud. As one end user explained, “For cloud, we use IaaS or adopt specific cloud platforms that are performant (like storage in one and machine learning in another) with the ability to exit any of them in less than six months. That means the service or platform load could go to another cloud, to colo, or to on-prem. It gives the ultimate flexibility while ensuring optimal pricing and no vendor lock-in. And, we use colo or on-prem data center pricing as leverage in cloud negotiations.”
“A hybrid – cloud + colo – approach gives the ultimate flexibility while ensuring optimal pricing and no vendor lock-in.” – Click to tweet[RJP4]
End of the day, it’s all digital infrastructure
While the cloud v. colocation debate continues to rage (with the answer, as it always is: it depends) one thing is for sure: whether cloud, colo, or hybrid, the burden for meeting the demand falls squarely on the shoulders of digital infrastructure.
The rapidly expanding cloud economy is projected to deliver a cumulative $2 trillion economic boost to the United States’ GDP by 2028, according to a new Wharton School report. And, as one end user pointed out, “with that comes more demand on every single aspect of our ecosystem.”
Stay tuned for the third installment in our 2018 top-of-mind series and hear from the Advisory Council on serving the next billion people.
Previous posts in the 2018 top-of-mind series: