SaaS businesses know that massive amounts of owned data can quickly become a costly burden if not properly managed. While providers have options of using rented colocation (colo) centres, building their own data centres or hiring third-party cloud partners, smart providers are choosing a combination of tactics to cut costs and increase flexibility.
Hybrid cloud strategies allow companies to maintain complete control of data in colos, while partially outsourcing operations to cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and IBM Bluemix. While these hybrid solutions have existed for a while, they have only recently reached best practice status for global businesses. Many SaaS providers are still on the fence about hybrid cloud solutions, which are sometimes viewed as complex, less secure and expensive.
However, a hybrid approach to data management is not a compromise, but an ideal solution for SaaS providers looking for the best benefits of colocation centres and cloud computing. How can hybrid data solutions help your business?
1. Unless running a data centre is core to your business, you’re probably not equipped to do it effectively
Effectively managing a data centre requires vast amounts of money and resources. Data centres require space, equipment, security, and an expert staff. For this reason, many SaaS providers are abandoning the running of their own data centres. Unless managing your own data centre is a key offering of your company, it can easily distract from business goals, becoming a burden rather than an advantage. It is more efficient to choose other options, which means working with a combination of cloud and colocation providers that have already perfected data centre solutions.
2. Global scalability requires a nimble approach
Global expansion has increased the need for international data centres, especially as security and privacy concerns lead to strict regulations that vary from country to country. If establishing a data centre in the U.S. is difficult, it’s infinitely trickier (and more expensive) to launch data centres abroad. If you’re doing business outside of U.S. borders, a hybrid approach is the only way to ensure your company can flex with the changing political, regulatory and cultural differences in a timely and cost effective manner.
Additionally, international data centres are not only costly investments, but risky ones. The Brexit vote alone has triggered a slew of unknowns that could prove catastrophic for companies that aren’t nimble. And last year, the nullification of Safe Harbour standards by EU regulators launched some of the largest companies in the world into instant noncompliance. Cloud computing with an established cloud partner with physical data centres across multiple geographies means your data can “live” in just about any jurisdiction, and mitigates this problem.
3. Prove security
Many IT professionals, especially in medical or financial fields, hesitate to rely on cloud solutions because of a perception that they are less secure than colos or traditionally owned data centres. Providers might also be reluctant to give complete control of sensitive data to third parties. However, in most cases, security is not an issue because the big cloud players have the resources to maintain advanced security certifications and are better prepared to protect data. This ensures the flexibility of the cloud will not sacrifice data security, as some might believe.
4. You’ll probably save money in the long run
Another reason many SaaS providers are choosing hybrid solutions is to save money. While providers benefit from cloud-based solutions, complex analytics are often expensive to store within the cloud. For this reason, it might be too costly for providers to rely on them entirely. But if you find the right balance, hybrid solutions provide the flexibility of the cloud and the cost-effectiveness of rented colos.
Hybrid data strategies are also much cheaper than establishing your own data centre from the ground up. On top of initial overhead, on-premise data centres require constant maintenance. After factoring in potential server failures and hardware depreciation, a rented colo supported with cloud storage is a much easier sell to your CFO, since your business won’t have to shoulder such heavy up-front and ongoing support costs.
Hybrid cloud solutions have emerged in the past few years as the best option for businesses looking to maximise the benefits of multiple strategies. For SaaS providers that need powerful computing capabilities at scale and across borders, hybrid solutions are the more agile, cost-effective and ultimately competitive solution to benefit the bottom line and end customer.
Derek Newbold, CTO, InMoment
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