Use Colocation as Your Conduit to the Cloud

June 21, 2018
Cloud, Colocation

man interacting with cloud on device

The benefits of the cloud are well established, from flexibility and efficiency to cost savings and predictable operating costs. But when you decide to move to the cloud, what do you do with your existing hardware — particularly if you’ve made recent investments?  What about applications that have requirements that preclude them from moving to a cloud environment? The answer may be to use colocation as part of your move to the cloud.   

Advantages of Colocation

Colocation provides a predictable op-ex model that doesn’t require you to keep up with the escalating capital expenses of building, securing and maintaining your own data center. Outsourcing selected workloads to a colocation facility can help you become comfortable in letting go of some of the day-to-day control of your IT assets.  You maintain ownership of them but don’t have to invest in the facilities and manpower to keep them in-house.  

Colocation facilities typically offer multiple networking options, so you have the flexibility to choose the ideal solution for your needs in a carrier-neutral setting.  Many also offer multiple layers of security that are hard to come by in private data centers. In addition, you’ll find colocation facilities typically provide access to a more robust power-per-square foot ratio than is commonly available in on-premise data centers. This allows you to better leverage innovations in virtualization and high density computing.  

Plus, some colocation providers also offer cloud services, making it easier to transition from one environment to another without changing providers.

The Hybrid IT Solution

You’re sold on colocation, but still want to move to the cloud.  What about your applications that weren’t developed for the cloud and your existing IT infrastructure?  Even if you move to the cloud, there probably still is a place for colocation in your IT strategy.

Your goal shouldn’t be to move everything into the cloud, but rather to put workloads in the environments in which they’ll perform best. A hybrid IT strategy, which encompasses any combination of on-premise, colocation, private cloud and public cloud, may be the best solution.

To implement a hybrid IT strategy, you’ll need to determine the optimal environment for each of your workloads. Among the issues to consider:

  • Is the application written for the cloud?  
  • How hard/expensive is it to refactor the application for new environment?  
  • What are the scaling considerations? 
  • What operating systems, databases or application servers are being consumed or provided?
  • What quantity of CPU, memory, network and storage are typically used/needed?  
  • What commercial and custom software support the workload?
  • What are the dependencies or integration touch points with other workloads?
  • What are the required service levels, performance, capacity, transaction rates and response time?  
  • Do you need backup, HA/DR, security or performance monitoring?   
  • Are there encryption, isolation or other types of security requirements?
  • Do you need services to run from different geographic regions for disaster recovery purposes? 
  • Do you have applications that require secure communication to a back-end database that needs to remain in your data center?
  • Do any of your applications require cloud bursting to elastically expand into the cloud?

Based on your answers, colocation may be the better environment for certain workloads. There could also be regulatory requirements or other factors that make colocation the preferable option. 

The Provider Makes a Difference

One of the issues with a hybrid IT strategy is that it requires advanced networking capabilities to move data between internal and external resources.  Colocation providers that also offer cloud services typically have those capabilities in place. Because they enable you to put your non-cloud infrastructure in the same facility as your cloud systems, you take advantage of fast, reliable data movement between the two environments.

Access to their operator and interconnect networks makes it easier and more cost efficient to quickly move data over large geographical areas and between internal and external assets.  These private interconnects and specialized network systems get data to corporate WAN and LAN systems, adding a layer of security in how information is delivered.

Repurpose Your Hardware

There’s still the matter of what to do with your existing hardware, whether you keep it on site or move it to a colocation facility. Consider using it to host any legacy images or applications that can’t move to the cloud. Or, reuse servers to increase the reliability for your backup servers, provide more disk space available for temporary backups, and reduce restore times. Existing hardware can also be used as a kind of “proof of concept” as you move your first workloads to the cloud.  

The US Signal Advantage

Colocation can be an important component in your overall IT strategy. US Signal is well positioned to help you use it to optimize the effectiveness of your IT strategy, as well as to get you to the cloud.

US Signal offers a variety of secure cloud services and data center (colocation) facilities, as well as reliable network services. Our solution architects are well versed in helping customers assess their IT service portfolios and develop strategies to make the most of them. US Signal also offers customers the ability to transfer from one US Signal service to another as their needs change without financial penalties.

In addition, US Signal offers fast, secure access to the US Signal Cloud with its Cloud-to-Data Center (CDC) connection that provides dedicated access between collocated IT assets and US Signal public cloud resources when housed in the same US Signal data center.  To learn more about how US Signal can help your organization, call 866.2. SIGNAL or email [email protected].