Choosing the right datacentre and transitioning to the cloud

With most businesses today choosing to migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud, understanding the business benefits and selecting the right datacentre provider is fundamental to the decision-making process.  The UK is leading the way in the adoption of datacentres and is the largest 3rd Party Data Centre Country Market within the EU

Datacentres provide the perfect environment to host company data, applications and servers in a secure location, allowing businesses to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, increase resilience and become more agile. Strategically migrating to the cloud will further contribute to long-term growth revenue, due to the continued adoption of cloud based collaboration technologies that eliminate physical and geographical barriers.   

But choosing the right datacentre for your business isn’t easy as there are many things to consider. The risk to business, from potential data loss, along with the interruption to daily operations are cited as key barriers to change, making it a complex decision for any board. The right MSP will offer superior knowledge, expertise, flexibility and a first-class technological infrastructure to deliver the services required, with minimal disruption to the business - allowing you to focus on your customers. 

When choosing a datacentre partner, there are a number of key areas that should be reviewed during the decision-making process to help achieve a successful transition to both managed and cloud services. 

Is it an ISO accredited data centre?    

Moving to an MSP that has a private, ISO accredited data facility (one that has achieved compliance with the globally-recognised ISO certification) ensures that it demonstrates that it has procedures in place to consistently deliver the services required and that data remains secure. Customers can be safe in the knowledge that the chosen ISO accredited facility is predisposed to host sensitive, confidential and critical data sets and IT infrastructures.   

A provider that also operates its own core network is of further benefit, as it provides customers with secure Layer 2 networking. This means that clients can access the cloud as if it were in their own network - providing increased resilience- to extend the customer’s LAN into the cloud. 

Using an ISO accredited datacentre can also reduce costs and time, as it will significantly reduce the need for supplier audits, minimising disruption for both parties.    

By choosing to host your data in an off-site datacentre, you eliminate the need for 'keeping the lights on’ (KLTO), which refers to the portion of information technology expenditure a company has to perform on daily operational task. Numerous cost savings - such as lower insurance - can be made as well as increased business efficiency.   

Businesses that are stuck with high fixed, on-premise, IT costs have less elasticity than their competitors to react to changing market conditions. Utilising the benefits of a climate controlled data centre will save energy, limit the opportunity for human error and will be significantly more secure and reliable than on-premise options. It also enables the chosen MSP to manage the responsibility of keeping your data safe (while you are still custodian) and secure.   

The most common approach for a business to transition from on-premise to datacentre and eventually to the cloud is via a staged process. This allows for the client/ MSP relationship to build trust and further develop to deliver ongoing managed services. 

Initial stages would typically involve the transition of existing hardware into the MSP’s data centre under a colocation agreement. Simply by moving hardware into a data centre, there are immediate benefits to be realised. Including enhanced physical security, optimal cooling environment and simplifying unpredictable costs into a monthly rental to the MSP rather than the client investing in power, connectivity and the office space to house it.   

In line with hardware lifecycle management, the MSP is able to provide a staged approach to migrate existing self-managed physical assets that are hosted in their data centre to a managed service. This will relieve the client of managing hardware break-fix agreements, support contracts, licensing and updates, becoming the responsibility of the MSP, enabling the client to focus on their core business.   

The right MSP will tailor its service and create a bespoke approach to the individual data management needs of a business, offering superior insight and expertise, based on acquired industry knowledge. It will manage and build an application that meets your unique requirements and ensure that business continuity is consistently maintained. Hardware is its liability, so it will manage support and maintenance contracts, source and keep spares and replace parts when they are faulty. Any hardware refreshes and system upgrades should also be covered with contract renewal, along with monthly backups and data recovery. A successful MSP will take their customer on a journey through to the cloud that suits their overall business objectives, this will often be a hybrid solution, made up of dedicated compute, private cloud and public cloud services. 

The advantages of cloud & how to make the transition 

The worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 18 percent in 2017 to total $246.8 billion according to Gartner. There are immediate advantages to cloud adoption, primarily significant cost reduction, through offloading of capital expenditure, increased operational efficiency and business scalability. Being able to plug into a range of ready-made cloud-based services enables businesses to expand at a faster pace, giving them a competitive edge.

A virtual hosted IT cloud infrastructure can help you run your organisation’s business-critical systems more flexibly, greatly reducing the cost of operating, administering and maintaining your network systems. Hardware refreshes are a thing of the past; cloud platforms are kept running to an optimal level of performance to deliver guaranteed SLAs (service level agreements). Your MSP will identify which applications are cloud ready, where they should go and begin to start a series of pilot programmes.   

Secure through encryption 

Attitudes to cloud security have changed as mass adoption has increased. It is estimated that by 2021, more than half of global enterprises already using cloud today will adopt an all-in cloud strategy. Data is encrypted to increase the level of security; customers can choose to control their own encryption, as well as set the rules for who can and can't access the data or applications, ensuring a high level of data security. There is also the option of a "hybrid" approach - storing more sensitive data in a private cloud and other data and applications in the public cloud. 

Making the right choices however, can be complex. There are multiple options available and not all applications are cloud friendly. The reality is that certain IT applications are better suited to managed datacentre environments (with offer significantly lower operating costs), while others can run more productively in the cloud. Your MSP will advise on what is possible and what is not, and define the correct method, which aligns with the company's short and long-term business goals. 

Other key points to consider ahead of any change    

Conduct research - Deciding whether to keep data on premises or to move it to the cloud requires a good deal of research and planning. Find out whether your chosen cloud MSP is a full-service provider and can offer full cloud-migration process as this will determine the true success of the partnership. 

Be united -  Be sure to get buy-in from the board and make sure everyone understands the reasons the decision. Planning, investment and most importantly, commitment is key. 

It won't happen overnight - Modernising your IT infrastructure will take time and will require intense strategic planning between you and your chosen MSP. A realistic timescale must be understood.   

Look to the future - Always think ahead. Know where your business is going and think of your IT as an enabler of that. New applications and services are constantly being introduced, so don't stop when you have migrated to the cloud. When selecting an MSP, ensure that the company has a future vision aligned with your own. 

Take ownership - Although you have made the decision to increase efficiency and lower costs, always remember -  It's your data - and you are responsible for it. 

Datacentre infrastructure is transforming and there has never been a better time to make the move. By implementing these strategies carefully, you can build a highly scalable and robust IT cloud system to serve your business for years to come.   

Jessica Woods, Product Manager, Timico

Image Credit: Scanrail1 / Shutterstock