In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Chad Peters, Director of Infrastructure Solutions for Service Express, presents four data center models along with the benefits and challenges of each.
For decades, the traditional on-premises data center has been the standard for IT infrastructure. Long, dark hallways stacked to the ceiling with server racks – in other words, what a data center was “supposed” to look like. While you can find on-premises data centers almost anywhere today, like all other forms of technology, they are constantly evolving.
Around 2008, a converged the structure of the data center emerged. This structure still involves separate servers, storage, and networking, but they are sold as a single solution configured for interoperability to reduce compatibility issues that occur in traditional data center environments.
In the 2010s, hyperconverged data centers entered the scene with one hardware for everything. The current evolution of the data center is the cloud, where certain data and information is hosted outside of an organization’s own infrastructure. The peculiarity of the evolution of data centers is that one solution does not necessarily exclude the use or need of another.
Let’s take a look at the specifics of each to determine which solution or combination of solutions best suits your organization’s needs.
Traditional on-premise data center
The traditional on-premises data center structure involves separate server, storage, and networking equipment. This type of data center has stood the test of time and is relatively familiar. While IT managers are thinking about how to move things from their data center offsite, David Cappuccio, Gartner Distinguished Vice President Analyst, says, “Continuing investment in an older, more traditional data center can seem contradictory, it can bring benefits -term planning.
- Supplier customization: Choose multiple partners to create a customized solution based on your needs.
- Control: Your team controls the location of the equipment, how it is managed, and your level of security.
- Compliance and Compatibility: If the hardware requires specific applications or operating systems, you review compliance and compatibility.
- Complex Support: Multiple vendors can result in support complexities and multiple maintenance and service level agreements.
- Slower problem resolution: When a problem arises, vendors may have to work together to develop a solution resulting in slower response and resolution times.
- Lifecycle management challenges: Upgrading an operating system, applying a patch, or downloading new firmware can result in incompatible systems.
Converged data center
The converged data center is sold as an all-in-one solution hosted together. This can be easier to manage because everything is contained with a single point of contact.
- End-to-end tested functionality: The equipment has been configured and tested to ensure interoperability and compatibility.
- Interconnected components: a single interface is generally used to launch the configuration and management tools for each device.
- Data center space: You have the flexibility to reduce the size and use the space for other priorities.
- Faster Deployment: Deploy faster because the components are designed to work together right out of the box.
- Locked in: A single solution may offer less flexibility due to the higher costs to add additional capacity, processor, and memory.
- Interoperability issues: This solution may not support legacy applications or operating systems.
- Difficult to Update: Device updates are typically done through a deployment package, which means that individual components can be exposed until that package is available.
Hyperconverged data center
A hyperconverted solution relies on software to provision your resources by combining your network, storage, and server equipment into one basic piece of hardware.
- Consolidated management: just like with a converged solution, in a hyperconverged solution, one window does it all.
- Convenience and Service: With just one piece of hardware for your storage, compute, and network (needs / demands), the complexities of multiple interfaces, tools, and vendors are removed for a more convenient and easier customer experience.
- Ease of Scalability and Deployment: Easily scale and deploy by adding more nodes to a cluster.
- Locked Out: If this provider doesn’t meet your needs, you could be locked out.
- Scaling nodes: A hyperconverged solution allows for more scalability, you could pay for things you don’t need. If all you need is more memory, you get the compute and storage you don’t need.
- Interoperability issues: Going hyperconverged means implementing a virtualization layer.
Last, but not least, the cloud. Think of a cloud data service as a remote version of your data center. An organization’s data and applications are hosted by a private or public cloud service provider. While it’s possible that your entire data center exists in the cloud, it performs best when used with one of the other three solutions.
- Pay-as-you-go: Teams only need to pay for what they need, when they need it.
- Flexibility: Just ask your cloud provider to activate resources when needed. Conversely, you can turn off the service when it is not in use.
- Security: Security updates are handled by your cloud provider, so you have less control over them.
- No physical access: With your cloud-hosted applications, you no longer have physical access to the hardware. You rely on vendors’ data center redundancy and integrity, along with their support and technical expertise, to ensure uptime.
- Interoperability issues: This drawback should sound familiar to you. Cloud solutions may not work with your proprietary or legacy applications.
- Unpredictable Costs: It could be more costly in the long run due to unforeseen costs that are unpredictable.
The right option for your organization
While spending on data center systems declined in 2020 due to the pandemic, it has since rebounded. Spending is expected to reach $ 207 billion in 2022, a sign of continued investment in data center technology.
When you and your organization determine which data center evolution (or combination of evolutions) is best for you, consider your priorities. We recently surveyed over 700 IT professionals who revealed that their top priorities are strengthening security, improving internal processes, and reducing costs.
If security is your top priority, you might not be ready for the cloud. If cost reduction is your top priority, consider moving away from a 100% on-premises data center. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a data center. Most organizations end up with a hybrid solution. A bit of on-premise, a pinch of hyperconverged, and a pinch of cloud.
It’s a bit like a recipe. Change up your ingredients by adding more of one thing and less of another. The perfect mix is what works best for your organization’s needs, applications, and priorities.
Chad Peters is Director of Infrastructure Solutions for Service Express, a global provider of data center solutions that helps IT teams control costs, optimize infrastructure strategies and automate support.