Consider how cloud options have changed the way we think of data centers in just a few years.
The landscape of information technology has been evolving ever since the first rudimentary computers were introduced at the turn of the century. Technological advances continue to occur at a breakneck pace allowing for faster processing and vast amounts of data storage, but it is the introduction of the cloud computing model that has transformed the design and deployment of data centers in the last two decades. In simplest terms, Cloud is the delivery of on-demand applications and computing resources. Cloud solutions are typically delivered over the Internet by a third party, but it is also common to see the model applied within an organization’s data center as a private cloud.
The cloud model is a departure from previous data center strategies since the model provides a pool of resources that can be consumed by users as services as opposed to dedicating infrastructure to each individual application. In the case of public cloud, these services can take the shape of end- user applications, back-office platforms, or virtual servers –- all hosted over the Internet with simple billing models that charge the user for just what they use.
As we move throughout our day, we take for granted our personal interactions with the cloud. The majority of the applications running on our mobile devices leverage the cloud, and there is a general expectation that these services are always available 24 hours a day. The combination of “always-on, never fails” expectations, the ease of scalability, and the change in cost model that the cloud provides has had a direct effect on the strategy that CIOs employ regarding how to leverage their data center and the delivery of IT within their company. CIOs look across their traditional IT landscape and see high cost and loss of efficiency with their multiple data centers, multiple storage solutions, and large deployment of servers and applications. As a result, organizations are increasingly leveraging public cloud in order to augment traditional IT and take advantage of these benefits.
Companies can convert capital expenses originally allocated to their private data centers into operational expenses associated with the cloud, and can begin to shift to more of a self-service model for their end-users, which helps defray IT costs. When cloud was first introduced, many CIOs took a “wait and see” approach as the model matured, but now cloud adoption has drastically increased, with Gartner estimating that 40% of IT budgets are being allocated to cloud and cloud-related services. Cloud’s transformative effect on the data center is evident in a commitment to “Cloud-first” policies across many organizations, including our own federal government and large enterprises like General Electric – who announced at Amazon’s AWS re:Invent user conference that the company will move 60% of its IT workloads out of the data center and into the public cloud.