As we move into 2017, cloud adoption continues to grow at an unstoppable rate. According to Cisco figures from November, cloud-based traffic is set to increase almost fourfold between now and 2020, and account for 92% of workloads worldwide – compared to just 8% for traditional data centres.
Naturally, the top public cloud providers – Amazon, Google and Microsoft, to name the most popular – have had a big hand in this growth. What’s more, Microsoft launched three data centres in the UK in September, and Amazon is set to follow suit in 2017 – a clear indicator that big-name providers are making efforts to increase the use of their services in regulated industries where data sovereignty is a key concern.
So, as we enter an era of IT defined and dominated by cloud, should you still care about the location of your data centre? In reality, there are perhaps more reasons than you might suspect not to take a hands-off attitude to your data and infrastructure. Here are a few of them.
Some end users still need hands-on control
Colocation isn’t dead. There are many end users of hosting and infrastructure services who still require hands-on control of their data, and will do for the foreseeable future. Examples include IT service providers that look after legacy applications for their own customers, as well as firms that are required by regulators and their own internal policies to audit their data centre environment. For these end users, proximity and accessibility are key factors in their choice of facility.
A close working relationship is sometimes important
Even when it comes to cloud services, having a close working relationship with a local provider can be an attractive and compelling proposition for end users. Getting to the point where data centre staff are bought into the success of your business and easily reached if problems arise is a normal part of working with a smaller supplier, and almost impossible with a global service like AWS.
(This is one of the reasons many startups in Manchester and the north-west tell us they choose our cloud hosting services over our competitors' offerings.)
When it comes to end users, the faster the response to a click of their mouse or a tap on their screen, the happier and more productive they'll be. That's as true for an online shopper waiting for a product page to load as it is for an engineer out on the road downloading a job schedule, or a worker in your office accessing your hosted business process applications.
It therefore makes sense to keep network latency to a minimum – if your user base resides largely in the UK, conventional wisdom would suggest that you deploy your infrastructure within a UK data centre.
Location can contribute to downtime
If your business is sensitive to downtime, failing to consider the location of your data centre can be catastrophic. You’ll want to review the site for diversity in power and connectivity, and for a low environmental risk profile. This applies to both cloud and colocation users.
Location can impact on disaster recovery
Finally, if you’re choosing a secondary data centre for disaster recovery purposes, you’ll want to ensure that it’s a reasonable distance from your primary site. Ideally, it should be far enough away not to be affected by the same outages and unexpected events, but near enough for accessibility. Again, this applies to both cloud and colocation users.