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Data Center-as-a-Service – What’s the Future for the Traditional Data Center?

Data center managers who have lived through the evolution of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and other cloud-based services are unlikely to be surprised by yet another xaaS — Data Center-as-a-Service (DCaaS). But, does this mean the end of the traditional data center and how will it affect the role of the data center team?

DCaaS is the provision of offsite physical data center facilities and infrastructure, according to TechTarget. Clients rent or lease access to the provider’s data center, using the servers, networking, storage and other computing resources owned by the DCaaS provider.

Business Demands Drive Adoption

The main driver for adopting a DCaaS solution is the changing role of the data center, according to last year’s Gartner CIO Symposium and ITxpo. Speakers stressed that data center managers are no longer concerned with just ‘keeping the lights on’ — they are responsible for enabling the business.

Their emerging role is to create an infrastructure that will enable faster customer interactions, better customer services and enhanced customer and user experience.

Data center resources need to be more flexible and responsive to the demands of the business. Application developers expect the same level of on-demand resources they experience from the cloud. Data center managers no longer have the luxury of designing, ordering and deploying additional resources when they’re needed.

And, users expect the levels of self-service they are used to. They want to be able to dial-up data center resources quickly and easily.

Access to Scalable Resources

It’s not just changing business demands that are driving adoption. DCaaS is a solution for data centers that are no longer able to expand their internal resources through lack of space, power or capital. Data center skills requirements are also changing, particularly for environments where legacy and cloud applications and services co-exist.

DCaaS can provide those additional, scalable resources on an OPEX basis with no upfront costs required. Clients will have access to the latest data center technologies and infrastructure, with no recurring upgrade costs. And, the service provider manages and maintains the resources, eliminating the skills problem and reducing day-to-day operational requirements on-premise.

Migration Decisions

The decision then is how much or how little of the data center to move to a DCaaS provider. Data center IT managers need to assess which workloads make sense for DCaaS and which don’t, which providers to enlist, how best to ensure security, and how to align the different technologies and resources.

Experience to date indicates that hybrid solutions are the preferred approach. Keeping resources in-house to support mission-critical applications such as finance, HR, BI and ERP is seen as essential to meet compliance requirements.

Changing Management Roles

Where businesses decide to implement DCaaS, data center managers will increasingly take on the role of analyst and liaison between business users and service providers. Key responsibilities would include monitoring service levels in line with SLAs, tracking usage and performance, and focusing on ways to improve performance and reduce costs.

Managers may also need to rethink their network strategies. Using the public Internet as a channel would not provide the security and reliability to maintain the required level of user experience. Commentators believe that private networks or solutions such as SD-WAN will be essential.

While DCaaS is unlikely to replace the traditional data center in the medium term, it provides a useful source of additional, scalable resources that can help data center managers meet changing business requirements.

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