Seeing Is Believing: Cloud Versus Physical Data Centre

Despite the best efforts of cloud vendors to extol the virtues of migrating to the cloud, CTOs are still reluctant to put their trust in large cloud providers, preferring instead to store sensitive data and mission critical applications in their own data centers.

Cloud vendors often use the analogy of the success of the banking industry, that it is a lot more secure to keep your money in the bank’s safe rather than under your mattress at home.

By the same token, major cloud storage vendors have superior security, storage and management resources than a user could hope to have in their own personal data center, yet there is still a reluctance to trust someone else with the management of your data.

There is a common misconception that seeing is believing, but in an age of cyber hackers and security breaches this is simply not true and virtual security is just as much a concern as physical security. Properly managing the migration of data to virtual storage systems can ensure that users enjoy all the benefits of cloud based storage without the headaches and cost of managing a physical data center.

There are several considerations CTOs need to have in mind when comparing on-site data centers and cloud computing; location, physical versus virtual security and capacity management.

Location, location, location

IT professionals invest significant time and effort choosing a location for a data center. The physical building needs to be within reasonable distance to the companies head office, of to ensure easy access to the data center, but it is also equally important to that the data is stored in a location a suitable distance away from the company’s main base, to ensure consistency of service and access even in the case of a disaster.

Location is also important when it comes to the cloud. If data is placed in the public cloud and leaves the EU it is automatically stripped of the protection offered by EU legislation. What many IT professionals do not realise is that they are solely responsible for keeping their data in the EU and cannot pass on this responsibility to a third party cloud storage provider.

For peace of mind, working with a reputable EU cloud storage provider will ensure users gain maximum security assurances when migrating their data to the cloud.

Beefing up security

Physical security is top of the list for the effective management of a data center. This can include restricting access to a limited number of key staff, hiring an on-site security team and setting up an elaborate video surveillance or access controlled system. However, physical security breaches are still a risk and do happen from time to time.

Security is also a major concern for IT managers taking the plunge into the cloud. It is important when migrating data to the cloud to set up the correct online virtual network and put appropriate security measures in place within a simple, yet sensible architecture. If the necessary measures are taken, disruptions will be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether, making the cloud a secure and safe option.

Flexible friend

Another key consideration for the storage of data is flexibility. Physical data centers require sufficient space and room for expansion to cater for future storage needs, trading off against the increased cost in providing cooling for more units. However, it is hard to strike a balance between paying for space which you do not need and finding you outgrow your existing premise. With property prices so high and often, unstable, finding a suitable property can seem like a dark art.

Physical capacity management in the cloud is just as important as in a physical data center, it again is just a case of good planning to ensure continuity and efficiency. When a company decides to store their data in a virtual server they tend to increase the number of servers used as they are no longer restricted by physical space requirements.

Often, separate applications are stored in separate virtual servers making the network setup quite complex. Where the network is not correctly sized or where there is not sufficient bandwidth there can be congestion problems between the virtual and physical server, causing major delays for users.

The physical, on-site data center will always have its place, particularly running processor heavy applications where latency is an issue, however the cloud boasts additional benefits, such as flexibility, easy access and improved capacity management. While there’s still a job to be done persuading CTOs that seeing is not believing, in time we’ll see the benefits of the cloud lead to widespread adoption.

Melvyn Wray is Senior Vice President of Product Marketing for Allied Telesis. In this role, he is responsible for driving the company’s product marketing and strategic direction. Melvyn started his career as an engineer at CASE, developing networking equipment, before he became a principal engineer at Northern Telecom, and then a product specialist for AMD. He joined Allied Telesis in 1990 as its first employee in Europe. Melvyn has since worked all aspects of the business at Allied Telesis including sales & marketing, service, and logistics. He took up his present role in 2005.

  • One important thing to remember when choosing a data centre to host your information is to not be swayed be cheap offshore options. Each country has their own laws and regulations regarding data. The data you store online is vital for your company and you don’t want to lose it behind regulations beyond your control.