Traditional data centers (both colos as well as enterprise data centers) are looking outdated, insecure and isolated. Many older facilities out there were built ten or more years ago when requirements were very different and when cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) were unheard of. Today, in a world that’s increasingly interconnected, these aging data centers are not keeping pace.
Take network connectivity, for instance. Before the cloud era, networking was important but not nearly as critical as it is now. Typically a data center offered basic internet connectivity and connections to one or two carriers. It’s very hard (and expensive) for these older data centers to scale and bring more connectivity and carriers online to meet today’s business requirements – especially when customers want a variety of services delivered by multiple providers across geographic locations.
Another related problem is security. Older data centers were designed for a more “locked down” age when there were fewer breaches (at least that companies were aware of) and the main focus was protecting the firewall. Now, with greater connectivity across locations and to outside service providers, enterprise IT often feels under attack, and the bar for security and compliance continues to go up. Along with compliance to PCI, HIPAA, SSAE and other regulations, data centers are now expected to provide more advanced physical and operational security controls – everything from biometric scans to man traps to surveillance. In order to comply, the older data centers need to beef up their sites, document extensive operational practices and survive rigorous audits.
The New Colo Generation — Built for an Interconnected World
A new generation of colo locations from Equinix, Digital Realty, Switch, EdgeConneX and others is changing the game for the data center market. These data centers are designed for today’s computing, storage and network requirements, where business operations depend on a variety of services that could be running anywhere. Their network infrastructure is vastly superior to the older facilities, with many options for high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity and the ability to access multiple cloud services and a large number of carriers.
The new data centers are also built for today’s requirements for physical security and regulatory compliance. They have berms in the parking lot, armed guards, badges, retinal scans, video surveillance — and that’s just to get into the building. Customers of these colo facilities then face another set of requirements to get into their designated cage. In short, colos built for the cloud era take care of compliance and security at a level that would be difficult for the older data centers to achieve.
Onramp to the Cloud Ecosystem
The new colo data centers have another important role that goes much further than just fast network connections and security. They provide enterprises with an easy onramp to SaaS and cloud services from an ecosystem of partners including the Big 3 cloud providers, hosted apps, SaaS, etc., bundled together in packaged service/network offerings that are easy to use and leverage. By doing the heavy lifting for you, the colos provide easier access to many different cloud options, rather than requiring the customer to manage each connection and service independently.
As enterprises weigh the benefits of building their own connections to cloud locations and moving specific workloads to the cloud, they are also starting to recognize the value of these super colos, which offer a step forward on their journey as they build cloud and SaaS into their overall IT strategies.