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By now the virtues of cloud have been well-documented, so it's only natural that companies are starting to eye the benefits of offloading their processing, storage, networking and data assets.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides an opportunity to do just that. All the technical gear is owned and operated by the cloud service provider and the customer pays a subscription fee for IT services. But there's another option for customers who want to own -- and have greater control over -- their physical hardware, but would prefer to lease or rent other elements of the data center: the floor space, cooling and power. That service has been known for years as colocation, but is getting a cloud-era reworking as data center as a service (DCaaS). Channel partners can play a role in colocation, or DCaaS, teaming with data center providers who offer such services.
As corporate data centers reach maturity, typically around 15 to 20 years old, companies will start looking for alternative means for integrating their physical infrastructure components with the logical components, observed Michael Levy, manager, global colocation product, at CenturyLink, a data center provider. Levy believes colocation will emerge as the "the most popular" environment for housing applications in 2016. By 2019, customer preferences will shift to the public cloud, he noted. Between 2016 and 2019, however, Levy sees customers deploying applications into a mix of colocation, managed service and public cloud environments.
He considers DCaaS to be colocation with some flexibility added in. For example, DCaaS providers might include the ability to lease capacity at shorter intervals and have the ability to ramp the power they pay for up and down over time.
"Basically, it's applying the on-demand nature of cloud and flexibility to the traditional colocation offering."
Public cloud is an entirely different offering, Levy added, since it's the sale of virtualized compute capacity, not the space, power and cooling within a data center. "It is, however, a nice compliment to colocation since customers use the cloud for their dynamic workloads and colo for their steady state workloads to minimize cost."
End user companies will either contract directly with data centers for services, or look to their managed service providers (MSPs) for guidance. MSPs are expected to more frequently partner with data center providers to meet this need. A 2014 data center study by CompTIA found there is a "white flag being waved when it comes to the data center decision. Early on in the cloud march, many in the channel proclaimed that they would build and operate their own [network operations centers] NOCs to serve up cloud solutions and essentially act as another piece of the public cloud. Today, with the public cloud market coalescing around several mammoth providers … the channel is backing down."
The report went on to say that channel companies cannot expect to reasonably compete on pricing for cloud compute services offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Rackspace, among others. In 2014, "half of channel firms said they are contracting with a third-party provider for use of a data center for cloud, compared with 31% in 2013. Expect that percentage to rise in successive years."
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