Cloud co-location best practices

Cloud co-location best practices

Carol Ko  |   March 21, 2012
Asia Cloud Forum
Co-location, an off-site data storage service usually delivered from a data center, is a hosting service which should not be confused with the data center itself. Today, the IT infrastructure and applications most often put in the cloud for co-location purpose are servers, network, storage equipment, as well as cloud management software, databases and monitoring tools, which keep structured and unstructured data.
 
Providers of cloud-based co-location services are in a great position to meet user demands, said Mark Smith (pictured), managing director of Savvis Asia. This is because co-location service providers can deliver a secure and reliable infrastructure to deploy mission-critical equipment in immediate proximity to their users' cloud applications and development environment.
 
"For example, cloud computing supplements customers who have existing equipment located in Savvis' data centers. With the proximity advantage of being co-located next to our cloud facilities, customers can enjoy the flexible capacity of cloud computing. The flexible capacity of cloud helps to minimize latency purchased on demands and caters for seasonal peaks in network traffic," Smith said.
 
In an interview with Asia Cloud Forum, Smith outlines the different types of co-location services, the current state of co-location adoption in Asia, and the biggest misconceptions about co-location. Smith also advises how organizations can fulfill the needs of co-location while meeting data jurisdiction requirements and regulatory compliance. Finally, he illustrates how cloud computing can fulfill co-location needs in different industries: finance, media, government, retail and telco.
 
Asia Cloud Forum: What are the different types of co-location and the advantages of using it?
 
Mark Smith: Co-location is a service and should not be confused with the data center. There are a variety of co-location offerings -- wholesale, carrier-owned, carrier-neutral and managed services. Each has unique differentiators that are beneficial to certain types of clients.
 
With wholesale co-location, users get no-frills co-location. They are provided with a powered shell, long-term contracts and redundancy. Managed services providers offer additional value-added services such as shorter-term contracts and customized co-location.
 
Once users have co-located their IT infrastructure in external data centers, co-location services are designed to provide organizations with the following advantages:
 
Security -- Valuable IT assets are safeguarded against man-made and natural disasters;
 
Power -- Power management, power monitoring, advanced fire suppression, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems are utilized to protect users' technology investment and deliver the infrastructure availability they require;
 
Network connectivity -- Users gain strong global reach, allowing their customers to access sites, quickly and conveniently; and
 
Customer support -- On-site customer support specialists handle routine issues that might arise, preventing users from having to make special trips to data center location to resolve minor issues.
 
What is the current trend of co-location adoption in Asia? How will it develop in the next three years?
 
Smith: Co-location adoption is strong and growing in Asia. Co-location adoption has become an accepted industry practice because IT departments and CIOs realize the challenges of building and maintaining their own data centers. This trend is especially strong in China and India, where we have seen a number of data centers being built over the past few years.
 
As network deployment in emerging markets like Singapore, Australia and India improves, the need for robust co-location, competition and additional services will grow as well.
  
Currently, co-location adoption in Asia is primarily a carrier-owned market with growing wholesale interest. As such, more retail providers will establish offerings in China to compete with the carrier-owned providers over the next three years.
 
The new space also ranges from the Tier 1 and 2-type data centers more suited for ISPs and Internet players, to the Tier 3 and 4-type data centers that are more suitable for enterprise clients.
 
What are the three biggest misconceptions about co-location?
 
Smith: The three biggest misconceptions are:
1. Co-location consists of just space and power;
2. All co-location providers are the same; and
3. Virtualization and cloud computing will lead to the demise of co-location.
 
How can organizations fulfill the needs of co-location, while meeting data jurisdiction requirements and regulatory compliance?
Smith: Organizations can fulfill the needs of co-location, while meeting data jurisdiction requirements and regulatory compliance by only working with co-location providers that meet the organization's data jurisdiction requirements and regulatory compliance needs.
 
Co-location can be provided in the form of locked cabinets in a multi-tenant data center area, but in many cases regulatory compliance and local justification relevant to the organizations industry make this a prohibitive solution. That being said co-location providers offer a much wider variety of configuration options to enable customers to work towards the relevant standards. These include biometric access, caged areas, increased CCTV and private data center suites that give an organization sole access. In addition many providers have a wealth of experience and expertise to advice customers on potential options that may assist with achieving the relevant compliance standards.
 
Give examples of how co-location needs can be fulfilled through the use of cloud computing, in these industry verticals: finance, media, government, retail and telco.
Smith: Co-location needs apply to all of these industry verticals. Here are just a few examples:
 
a) The financial industry
The finance industry faces regulatory constraints. Data center providers have to receive the appropriate approvals from regulators. In the context of Singapore, for privacy and security reasons, most organizations choose to implement a private cloud infrastructure instead of a public cloud.
 
A global trading firm that was using a mass market cloud service provider found it needed to tie its cloud back into its physical infrastructure.
 
The service provider couldn't handle the request, so the firm went to Savvis for the solution. Through Savvis' converged cloud network, the firm has private access to the cloud. With a physical presence in a Savvis data center, the firm can easily 'flip' connected clouds on and off. As an added benefit, this firm also has access to Savvis' financial market ecosystem, in which financial firms are housed in close proximity.
 
 b) The media industry
In the media industry, depending on the type of content, ownership of content is important. The media industry is open to a hybrid and/or open cloud approach and this is where Savvis offers its consultancy services to meet their requirements.
 
 c) Government agencies
For governments, due to the sensitive nature of its content, a private cloud approach is typical. However, governments are open to private dedicated cloud hosted in cloud providers for better performance and reliability in disseminating information across their agencies and the general public.
 
The UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has access to Savvis' Government Wide Service (GWS), an infrastructure-as-a-service platform available to all government departments and third-party suppliers in the UK
 
GWS provides a solution for government agencies looking toward a "G-Cloud" model of hosted, reduced-cost IT operations and services.
 
The MoJ will use the secure platform for its enterprise resource planning system, which will deliver transactional and professional services to more than 80,000 users as part of MoJ's Common Operating Model for human resources, finance, purchase and payroll systems.
 
It is scheduled to be fully operational by spring 2013.
 
d) The retail industry
For the retail industry, as it is a more transactional driven, efficiency, speed and reliability are important factors. As such, depending on the nature of the business, and its transactions, public, hybrid and private clouds are all possible options.
 
 
Hallmark Cards relies on Savvis for a full range of managed services including co-location and cloud computing. In addition to keeping the Hallmark.com website up during huge traffic spikes experienced during critical business periods, Savvis supports Hallmark's online products and services with a high-performing and scalable platform.
 
e) The telco industry
The telco industry has realized the benefits of having a cloud offering for their various applications and networks. Hence they have opted to build their own cloud or embark on merger and acquisition in recent years.
 
Virgin Media Business resells Savvis Symphony Virtual Private Data Centre (VPDC) cloud solutions to its small and medium business customers. This arrangement gives Virgin an instant cloud platform that its client base can leverage.
 
How can cloud-based co-location help mitigate the risks including failures in security, network and power supply?
Smith: Self-provisioning, automation and resource pooling are key value propositions of cloud computing.
 
Co-location coupled with cloud can help mitigate the risks by ensuring 100% availability and protection of organizations' mission-critical IT infrastructure that is supported by 24/7 onsite customer service.
 
For example, the Savvis VPDC service offering is an enterprise class solution that allows customers to self provision a multi-tier cloud infrastructure together with its associated data center assets without human interventions -- a software company can spin up a three-tier hardware arch with firewall and load balances without having to make a trip down, through Savvis' portal.
 
Mark Smith, managing director of Savvis Asia, is responsible for building Savvis' IT services and cloud computing business within Asia Pacific and Japan. Savvis is a CenturyLink company.
Carol Ko

 

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