The enterprise IT architecture has been on a fast-paced trajectory of growth and evolution. Today, the emergence of cloud computing — computing that is based on the internet — has presented a notable and nearly ubiquitous change to the IT environment, opening up a world of new opportunity. Now, operating in a cloud-first landscape, cloud adoption has grown from merely an available option to a virtual necessity. Reports forecast that spending on cloud IT infrastructure will continue on its upswing to reach $99.9 billion by 2023, and as cloud-first strategies grow increasingly ubiquitous, Forbes reports that 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020.

The cloud undoubtedly offers a range of potential advantages for the enterprise. This survey of 166 IT leaders reveals that 61 percent say cost efficiency is the primary goal of implementing cloud, with the benefit of new features and capabilities coming in at a close second with 57 percent. Boasting added convenience, scalability, flexibility, data mobility and resilience, it’s easy to see why adoption is so attractive.

However, the path of IT evolution is now bringing a growing number of businesses back out of the cloud — more specifically, out of the public cloud. This reallocation of workloads (termed cloud repatriation) has been occurring for a couple of years now, with the IDC’s January 2018 Cloud and AI Adoption Survey reporting that more than 80 percent of surveyed IT decision-makers had repatriated workloads in 2017-2018. Repatriation activity reports in the following year were higher still.

The importance of the public cloud for enterprises is plain to see, and 61 percent of surveyed technical professionals from industries around the world stated that their organisation was running applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2019. Furthermore, usage of this cloud is still growing. However, while the public cloud does fulfill certain needs, it’s becoming clear to many businesses that the public cloud does not offer the ideal solution to all workloads, falling short in key areas. The top reasons for public cloud repatriation have been outlined as security, performance, cost, control and governance.

While the value of pulling workloads out of the public cloud ultimately depends on the use case (for instance, latency-sensitive apps or those with static functions may fall short here), it’s clear that many need alternatives that can better deliver security, control and performance.

The Data Centre’s Enduring Merit

While the cloud stores data remotely and provides access over the public internet, a data centre stores data on a company’s own hardware either on-premises or in a hosted environment in a colocation data centre. Sure, the cloud averts the need to invest in the equipment that data centres require, but the benefits that a data centre approach adds to an IT architecture are plentiful.

An in-house data centre delivers the highest level of customisation for the computing environment by allowing companies to keep server hardware on-location, store and access data over the local network and leverage full control over both their data and hardware. This availability of computing power means that individual application needs for security, performance and reliability can be built and maintained as needed. Furthermore, by remaining private and away from the public internet, the risk of mission-critical information falling victim to the increasing number of highly-publicised data leaks is reduced. This is a substantial benefit in an age when IBM warns that data breaches can cost a business $3.92 million on average.

However, on-premises data centres, while highly strategic in their offerings, must be maintained by in-house teams and supported administratively on the enterprise’s dime. In truth, many may not have the expertise or available capital for an on-premises solution — especially when data loads are expanding rapidly and every capacity purchase and installation must be managed by the company itself. Luckily, this doesn’t mean that the enterprise has to forego the advantages of the data centre.

Colocation’s Ideal Value

Colocation has emerged as a great solution for businesses that need an advanced environment for their workloads but can’t afford to — or don’t want to — maintain their own data centre. Colocation allows enterprises to house their own server equipment in the facility of a trusted data centre provider. This delivers the privacy, infrastructural security and reliability of a data centre while offloading the expenses associated with maintaining one. By retaining ownership and control over the physical servers, enterprises can gain greater security, performance and uptime while still leveraging flexibility and scalability for dynamic expansion.

The key to implementing the ideal colocation solution is finding the right partner. Vital considerations here are location, physical security that protects against natural disasters, man-made disasters and unplanned downtime, compliance and proper certifications and abundant fiber connectivity — to name a few.

Of course, a data centre is just one tool that the enterprise can use in their IT strategy today, and colocation presents an advantageous way to achieve the benefits that come with it. In order to get the best from all workloads and optimise data’s efficiency and efficacy, a hybrid solution that includes an individualised mix of public cloud, private cloud and data centre is what many are turning to. Although dynamic workloads encourage enterprises to diversify and reimagine their architectures, the data centre’s unique value ensures that it is here to stay.

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Elliott Gillespie, Vice President of Operations, manages Field Operations, including customer installations, maintenance, and customer support. He also manages Bluebird’s NOC, including Change Management, SLA Reporting, Network Planning and Architecture, and leads Bluebird’s IT department and the Bluebird Underground Data Center. Elliott has an extensive history working in the telecommunications industry, with a degree in Communication Technology. He began at Bluebird as an Operations Technician in 2007 and was subsequently promoted to Lead Technician, Operations Director, and now Operations Vice President.