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Data Foundry 2021 Predictions: Five Colocation Predictions for 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Five Colocation Predictions for 2021

By Mark Noonan, Chief Revenue Officer of Data Foundry

2020 has been a humbling year for anyone thinking of offering predictions about the future. Certainly, a comparison between what we were expecting in late 2019 versus what actually happened would yield a few big surprises. However, in technology terms, 2020 does offer some insight about what may be on the horizon. With that in mind, here are five predictions for the colocation industry for 2021.

Remote work network capabilities are a top priority-Widespread remote work and remote education will continue for at least the first few months of 2021, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even after the pandemic ends and guidelines on contact and distancing ease, it is likely that many workers will remain remote. Harvard Business School research suggests that 16% or more of workers will continue to work remotely after the pandemic ends.

As 2020's rapid shift to remote work revealed, success in delivering an effective remote work experience requires having a network that can handle the unusual demand characteristics of an off-site workforce that is more distributed and out of corporate's infrastructure control than traditionally possible. In particular, old assumptions about how off-site and traveling employees reach a corporate network no longer hold up. There are too many remote logins for a traditional network to ensure the security, performance, and accessibility required.

To solve this problem, a colocation provider can enable more connection points for people trying to reach corporate data assets from outside a core location. With colocation, customers get a choice of network providers. Diverse points of presence (PoPs) designed within a colocation provider's solution set translates to diverse connectivity in and out of a company's network. Colocation providers are often considered interconnection hubs.

Enterprises continue to move away from in-house data centers-The move away from in-house data centers is likely to accelerate in 2021. This enables organizations to support a more distributed network architecture that supports a variety of endpoints, edge points, and enables digital transformation. Also, as businesses start to shift their IT workloads to the cloud and implement edge compute capabilities, the need for in-house data centers will drop proportionally. As on-premises data centers shrink or become completely outsourced, colocation provides an attractive, smaller and more nimble alternative. Similar to full data center ownership, colocation providers are data center operators providing customers the space, power, 24x7x365 support, and the connectivity they need while fortifying security, redundancy, and facility performance. In addition, data center colocation also alleviates staffing issues and can save a company money by not having to maintain older data center equipment at their corporate office.

New hybrid cloud strategies are driven by a need for secure digital business-Cloud computing is becoming one of the most prevalent modes of IT delivery. However, not all workloads are suitable for public cloud platforms like AWS and Microsoft Azure. Rather, companies that want to take advantage of flexible cloud architectures, such as a hybrid cloud IT strategy, while maintaining the performance, security, and compliance needed for critical applications. A hybrid IT strategy is an architecture that involves utilizing services, storage, or computing resources across a combination of public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises infrastructure. Naturally, every hybrid strategy will look different due to each organization's varying application allocation and various employed clouds.

For example, an enterprise might elect to run its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution on their own equipment housed in a colocation facility. At the same time, it might offload its e-commerce infrastructure to the public cloud. The two systems interoperate in a hybrid cloud architectural model.

The hybrid approach leverages best of breed cloud capabilities with private networking for a more secure digital business. A colocation provider may support hybrid infrastructure models with specialized service offerings, such as private cloud on-ramps. Typically, a hybrid cloud service from a colocation provider makes it possible to create secure, seamless connections between on-premise data centers, public clouds and its own facilities. The customer is then typically able to deploy additional security countermeasures on their hybrid cloud instance, if that is what they need.

Remote hands are a key managed service-The pandemic has had a profound impact on IT departments. IT people, too, have mostly had to work on a remote basis. This has demonstrated to many organizations that having remote hands as a managed service is a viable, even desirable approach to IT service delivery, enablement, and empowerment. With remote hands, onsite data center technicians work to prevent emergencies by handling routine maintenance and status checks, hardware upgrades, loading and unloading backup takes, part replacement and other proactive measures. While they work for the colocation provider, these teams usually defer to the customer for direct instructions to ensure all work is done to their preferences.

Enterprises pivot to more IT and network management outsourcing-The unpredictable security landscape and infrastructure usage scenarios that are looming in 2021, coupled with unknown constraints on personnel, favor a pivot to more IT and network management outsourcing. An external provider enables a company to put its own IT staff to work on the most urgent and high value tasks while turning over equipment and network management duties to a colocation partner.

It's impossible to know what's coming in 2021, and after 2020. However, we've observed and learned from 2020 identifying certain trends that seem to be clearly on the rise. 2021 will definitely be an interesting year, no matter what. The challenge will be to prepare for it, learn from our experiences, anticipate shifts, and be ready to execute on changing plans as efficiently and effectively as possible.


About the Author

mark noonan 

Mark graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Psychology. Mark joined Data Foundry's team as sales manager in early 2000, bringing his prior experience in the data center industry at Dell’s enterprise sales group. He later became Data Foundry's first vice president of sales, overseeing the sales team for all locations. Mark was later promoted to Chief Revenue Officer.

Published Thursday, December 31, 2020 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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