Rather than being a highly compartmentalized industry, IT is increasingly a continuum of options in which companies can select from a smorgasbord of possibilities that range from a purely traditional data center to an entirely outsourced cloud model. Sitting somewhere near the middle are colocation providers, which offer a means for companies to retain some of the benefits of hardware ownership while offloading the peripherals of data center operation—cooling, site security, network connectivity, power delivery and so on. But some of these providers go beyond just facilities to deliver even more services, including cloud-based ones. Here’s a look at what’s happening with colocation at the intersection of traditional IT and the cloud.
The Cloudy Definition of Hybrid IT
Almost any kind of hybrid will involve a spectrum of characteristics that may be more prominent in one case and less so in another—it’s no different with IT. According to Chris Patterson, VP of Product Management for NaviSite, “In the cloud industry, the term hybrid is often used to discuss the mix or use of both internal and external cloud solutions (public and private cloud); the term hybrid is more dynamic, however. It can also describe the use of a mixed architecture, including the cloud as well as dedicated virtual and traditional single-tenant hosted infrastructures.” That mixture is what gives companies a range of options that they can customize for their particular requirements—it need not be an all-traditional or all-cloud proposition.
Bob Lamendola, CIO for MindShift Technologies, defines hybrid IT as “a concept that enables the integration of various data-center-centric and cloud-based technologies into a unified operating environment to provide flexible, efficient and agile technology enablement. It combines the reliability and security of modern data center technologies with the flexibility of public-cloud architectures and the control offered by private-cloud architectures, offering a best-of-breed architecture to meet any business-operations requirement.”
Colocation customers are already familiar with IT outsourcing: they may maintain a fair degree of control over their server hardware, but they recognize the benefits to their business of letting someone else handle the facilities side. In a sense, then, hybrid IT is nothing new: it’s just an extension of the available options to supplement company-owned hardware with remote services. “Not everything in an organization can move to the cloud immediately. Indeed, some application infrastructure cannot move to the cloud as a result of platform and/or security constraints,” said Patterson. But “hybrid IT can marry the physical and the virtual for added control and optimal performance.”
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