Time for a cloud clean-up: Stop neglecting your disorganised data centres

Over the last few years, private infrastructure has become an unfashionable idea for many enterprises that have been sold on the idea that public cloud is the most economic way forward.

However, recent research has shown that private infrastructure doesn’t have to require the vast investment and high cost of operations it once did.

What’s more, running private data centres and clouds alongside public platforms enables companies to keep making use of customised, private infrastructures and provide reassurances around security and data protection. A combined approach means businesses can be much more flexible in responding to capacity needs and maximising the return on their cloud investment while benefiting from the economies of scale of internal infrastructure provision.

As a result, we’re now seeing more and more enterprises turn to multi-cloud strategies, giving them the flexibility and agility required to operate in today’s digital world.

However, such an approach only works if businesses are able to run a cost-efficient data centre themselves.

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Disorganised data centres

The use of private infrastructure is nothing new. Many organisations have been running their own data centre for years, particularly in industries such as financial services which have strict regulatory requirements around the storage and use of sensitive customer data.

However, a closer look at the inner workings of these data centres often reveals a huge amount of over-expense, accompanied by allocation of compute, network and storage resources that very few people properly understand or know how to optimise.

This clutter is not unusual when a data centre has been operational for many years. It’s easy to lose track of personal computing devices, and this issue is amplified exponentially when talking about a data centre containing hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of servers. After all, taking the time to regularly audit and tidy everything up is a luxury few businesses can afford, especially if it requires some system downtime.

Ultimately, businesses with disorganised data centres are unlikely to be getting the best return on their investment.

The result is that many businesses are ditching their private infrastructure in favour of public cloud platforms. The thinking is that they can start afresh, reduce waste and just pay for what they use, so that resources can be focused on growing their business. But is this really the best way forward?

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Spring cleaning

Rather than abandoning private infrastructures, businesses should be focusing on cleaning them up and re-crafting a leaner, cleaner data centre.

Not only does this have the potential to significantly improve any enterprise’s return on investment, it can also bring private cloud economics back in line with the perceived cost efficiencies of using public cloud providers.

This is where automation, modelling and abstraction play a key role. Through automation, enterprises can simplify processes and eliminate time-consuming manual operations. Modelling of software components` gives an organisation an abstracted view of their components. The more day-to-day tasks that can be automated, the more businesses can remove the administrative burden that has traditionally hampered many data centre operations. The more they can model software services, the more flexible and efficient they will become.

Other technologies such as machine learning or artificial intelligence can also be incorporated. This can provide insight into operational efficiencies, as well as enabling businesses to optimise their data centre’s performance and save money in the process.

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Another option for businesses is to partner with providers and use their expertise to run certain parts of the data centre, which can go a long way towards streamlining internal operations.

Ultimately, cloud economics simply don’t point towards private data centres disappearing any time soon. Moving exclusively to the public cloud would be about as sensible as a business selling all its buildings and only renting a property whenever it needs somewhere new.

Whatever enterprises may think about their cloud infrastructure, it just doesn’t make financial sense for private data centres to go away, when they can be cleaned up. This way, businesses can reap the rewards that come from running an efficient data centre, and subsequently maximise the return on their cloud investment.

Written by Mark Baker, Field Product Manager, Canonical
Written by Mark Baker, Field Product Manager, Canonical

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.