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Computing Forecast: "Cloudy" in the Years Ahead

Date: Mar 21, 2016 @ 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Industry Trends
Related: Cloud Computing

Data storage and server locations are likely to change for many companies in the equipment leasing industry this year. Instead of companies storing data and running applications on their own dedicated servers within their brick and mortar, files and other information will be housed on off-site hardware owned and maintained by someone else.

Commonly referred to in the industry as the “public” cloud and often provisioned as a “private” cloud, the trend toward off-site data storage is moving into the business mainstream as companies look to improve efficiency and stability.

From this CIO’s vantage point, it looks like everything is going to the cloud. As people become more comfortable that off-site cloud provisioning is secure, the traditional concept of “I’ve got to own my own servers and physically reach out and touch them” is going away.

Computing trends certainly indicate that to be true. A recent survey of nearly 1,000 IT and computing industry professionals by IDG Enterprise found that 72 percent of organizations in 2015 had at least one application or a part of their computing infrastructure in the cloud. The average amount spent on cloud services among data center organizations represented in the survey was $1.56 million, with 58 percent of cloud services being in the “public” cloud and another 26 percent in the “hybrid” cloud – a combination of private and public.

In addition, a majority of survey respondents said they expect their organization’s cloud presence to increase, as they identify other operations suitable for cloud hosting. Why is cloud computing growing?

Traditionally, financial institutions – especially banks – have always wanted complete control of their technology and data, keeping it well preserved within the four walls of their own infrastructures. There they could see it, touch it and maintain it. But IT leaders are beginning to realize that their teams can be more effective if they focus on strategizing to be industry leaders focusing their teams on making security tighter and interfaces easier and more efficient for their staff and users. They are learning to let data centers keep systems at the leading edge of technology while having fun with their teams as they think outside the box.

The comfort level with off-site data storage is increasing, in no small part, to the data centers themselves. A company leasing space on a server belonging to a warehouse-size center enjoys greater flexibility to expand or contract capacity for disk space, memory and processors on an as-needed basis. That is possible because cloud service companies often serve multiple customers at a single data center, some of which contain row upon row of servers. Bulk storage means the cost to individual customers is lower – a concept any shopper at a warehouse retailer knows all too well.

Although cloud service customers typically are responsible for securing the data they store on data center servers, the center usually is responsible for replicating a customer’s data – “redundancy” in industry jargon – as well as repairing and replacing hardware, and ensuring building facility security. That’s huge, especially from a cost standpoint.

It wasn’t always that way. When data centers first burst upon the scene cloud service firms were responsible for managing the electricity and maintaining the Internet feeds coming in, climate control and the server racks. Customers, on the other hand, owned the hardware – the servers, switches, routers, firewalls, infrastructure – and leased space on those racks. If the hardware failed it was up to the customer to fix or replace the equipment.

When our company began in 2001, we offered a cloud service called “hosting” for customers’ lease portfolios on JDR-owned servers. Today, we manage client accounts on servers at data centers in multiple U.S. locations, and maintain relationships with several international cloud service companies.

Another convenience to customers is the customization cloud service providers offer. Providers can handle most, if not all, special needs customers might have. Let’s say your software requires a port 22 be opened, or a port 23 or port 443 – ports common to those in the IT world. The folks at the data center can accommodate those types of requests, and many others.

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