The Data Center and Cloud Balance: New Considerations

Nov. 5, 2021
A world powered by digital infrastructure requires new considerations to ensure rapid deployments and optimize application delivery. A DCF special report courtesy of Panduit looks at the new cloud and data center balance demanded by the growth of digital infrastructure.

In a world consumed by digital infrastructure, new considerations must be taken to ensure rapid deployments, optimized application delivery, and streamlined operational support. This launches our special report series on “Performance, Efficiency, and Sustainability: The New Cloud and Data Center Balance.”

Get the full report.

There are more users, complex applications, and data points accessing your infrastructure than ever before. New demands require modern organizations and cloud leaders to rethink their data center environment and delivery model to leverage the cloud effectively. In a world of constant connectivity. Performance, efficiency, latency, and security (physical and logical) take center stage as leaders make decisions around their digital infrastructure.

2020 was a defining year for all of us. New IT computing scenarios are driving growth in cloud and data center services. These include more connected devices, broader use-cases around mobility, and a greater reliance on data center reliability. These new IT solutions are being deployed by migrating traditional IT services to cloud services and data center alternatives.

However, not all data centers are created equal, and not all data center components can support your requirements. This special report will dive into a new balance between the cloud and the modern data center. We’ll discuss new requirements around performance, latency management, supply chain requirements, and, very importantly, creating a new level of sustainability.


Before the wide adoption of newer technologies like cloud computing, data centers were seen as cost-centers, supporting the business’s basic or mechanical function. Today, data centers and digital infrastructure are as tightly bonded to the business as ever. These strategic parts of the organization are no longer simply ‘supporting’ the business. In many cases, they run and are the business. This is a primary reason so many cloud leaders actively seek to partner with regional multi-tenant data center providers.

A new report from Fortune Business Insights indicates that the global demand for more efficient IT technologies combined with the economic advantages of modern, consolidated connectivity applications has contributed to the exponential rise in the scale and power of data centers. As the report points out, the global data center infrastructure market size is projected to reach $142.31 billion by 2027, compared to 2019, when the global market value stood at $94.56 billion.

Expanding utilization of data centers by companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling the growth of this market. Furthermore, the rapidly evolving competitiveness in the global market and advanced technologies such as cloud computing and Big Data have made it simpler and cheaper for enterprises to shift their workload to self-contained data centers. Trends around emerging connected solutions and critical workloads have forced cloud leaders to reevaluate their go-to-market strategy. Specifically, in working with regional and hyperscale partners, they’ve been able to improve their time-to-market capabilities by deploying workloads and cloud ecosystems faster.

The Cloud and Data Center Balance: A New Perspective

There is now a maturity around cloud solutions where organizations understand what needs to be in a public cloud and what should live on-premise.

This is a balancing of applications around Cloud, Colo, and On-Prem where premise-based solutions are Edge-like, smaller than traditional on-prem solutions, right-sized for the environment, and deployed for optimized data efficiency and security.

So, what does this new balance resemble?

  1. Organizations realize the actual cost of cloud and are asking better questions around the longevity of their cloud solutions.
  2. Many that are deploying new workloads are now asking: “How much does it cost me to deliver this widget in the cloud today? What about ten years from now?” Just because something was deployed in the cloud initially doesn’t mean it should stay there forever.
  3. Edge, colocation, and hyperscale solutions are helping organizations balance critical workloads, resiliency, and economics better than going cloud-only.
  4. Many are now deploying cloud solutions with repatriation in mind. They see the direct value in the data center ecosystem to support the future of their organization.
  5. Finally, the cloud and data center balance is taking on an executive perspective. It’s no longer cloud-first. Instead, industry experts are shaping their workloads to ensure that they can support hybrid ecosystems.

The new balance between cloud and data center requires industry professionals to look at workload delivery from a new perspective. This paper will explore critical new considerations as data center and IT professionals design the future of digital infrastructure. Specifically, we’ll cover:

  • The new cloud and data center balance Understanding the emerging trends around cloud computing and the hyperscale shift.
  • New digital infrastructure decision points A look at performance, reducing latency, new data center design considerations, and overcoming common challenges.
  • Sustainability in a digital world We’ll discuss ESG, the importance of focusing on the environment, and how becoming a better steward for the world is good for business.
  • Safety and security There’s no balancing act here. Both of these are necessary. We’ll discuss human threats, accidents, and how to improve the safety and security of your ecosystem.

Finally, we’ll also dive into real-world use-cases, design considerations, and how you can move away from legacy concepts and create a new balance between the cloud and the data center.

The Data Center and Cloud Balance — New Key Considerations

Over the past few years, emerging trends, statistics, and non-anecdotal research indicate a certain level of maturity in the cloud and data center market. For two years in a row, most respondents to the AFCOM State of the Data Center Report have indicated that they are seeing cloud repatriation happening.

Source: Nature, courtesy of Panduit.

Why are we seeing this happening more today than ever before? The tremendous savings seen from the switch to up-front CapEx investments in information technology to subscription mode soon gets soured as the rising monthly bills come in for services nobody knows where and when used. And so, new technology and operational disciplines were born: FinOps. In this profession, people leverage tools and new methodologies to monitor, measure, and mitigate the costs and value delivered from the cloud. FinOps practitioners’ perspectives (yes, they are out there) provide a good understanding of what lies ahead in the cloud:

“The dirty little secret of cloud spend is that the bill never really goes down,” says J.R. Storment, executive director of the FinOps Foundation. In a recent article from Nature, we learned that in a 2016 report, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that if 80% of servers in small US data centers were moved over to hyperscale facilities, this would result in a 25% drop in energy use. If you look at the data center and hyperscale market today, you’d see that this is very much already underway.

Today, the world has around 600 hyperscale data centers, many of them mopping up services for small corporations or universities that would have previously had their servers. And, there are approximately 6,600+ colocation and wholesale data center facilities across North America, EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

For cloud leaders, this is a new era in terms of how they work with local markets, support emerging solutions, and partner with data center pros. Here’s a key consideration for the cloud and data center balance:

Cloud computing is seeing a pivot away from massive centralized cloud ecosystems to more distributed platforms designed to support new compute and connectivity requirements.

Today, centralized cloud solutions need to complement regional strategies to provide services like IaaS and PaaS. This is the new type of balance that cloud enthusiasts need to approach when working with data center designs.

Balancing cloud and the data center

With all of this in mind, it’s important to note that cloud computing solutions have a place in our digital space. It’s evident that cloud computing isn’t going anywhere. Cloud computing has a firm footing in our digital world, with many new and emerging application and services projects currently underway. So, what’s changed? How can cloud and data center experts better impact a growing and more distributed market?

Let’s dive a bit further into the new cloud and data center balance.

Our understanding of cloud workloads, where specific resources should live, and how we can plan for the future are all considerations when we think about what needs to be deployed where. The fun part is that we see a better balance between the cloud and the data center.

Emerging cloud solutions need to be complemented with edge data centers, modular solutions, faster deployments, and more intelligent infrastructure.

Another critical point is what’s happening to smaller, traditional, and even enterprise data centers. They’re going away, quickly. We’re removing infrastructure that was there to fulfill a computing purpose and not much else. They’re often not efficient and prone to issues like outages and downtime. It’s exciting that engineers and executives see this new balance and are embracing it.

They see the direct benefits of moving from less efficient infrastructure to highly resilient and efficient hyperscale and colocation solutions. This is where cloud leaders can make an impact with the right type of partner. Emerging cloud solutions need to be complemented with edge data centers, modular solutions, faster deployments, and more intelligent infrastructure.

Leaders in the technology space even see how Micro Data Centers and edge solutions play into their overall cloud strategy. For example, real-time information exchange between the business, cloud ecosystems, and IT has become vitally important. Integrated and intelligent solutions that allow for central control can help you take advantage of advances in innovation and increase productivity across multiple manufacturing environments.

Cloud computing and even the edge is not just all about the large public cloud providers. There are considerations around edge computing, micro data centers, private and hybrid clouds, and even cloud colocation services.

To remain agile and responsive to the organization’s needs, data center and cloud designers include intelligent control and telecommunications room designs in their network architectures.

This is a big reason why so many revolutionize their edge, cloud, and data center solutions are looking for designs that bridge corporate IT, cloud, and industrial networks. For example, working with a Micro Data Center approach (think pre-configured edge) provides a flexible and scalable infrastructure to enable network convergence of your operations with the enterprise and support network servers, switches, firewalls/DMZ, UPS, and backup systems. If you’re a cloud provider, this is a great way to impact regional locations and support edge as well as latency- reduction operations.

With this approach, network designers and system integrators can enjoy design flexibility, lower cost of ownership, and reduced time to market.

What does this all mean for data center and cloud experts? This is a time to understand the digital market better and capture an opportunity to help others become technology and data center leaders. Remember, cloud computing and even the edge is not just all about the large public cloud providers. There are considerations around edge computing, micro data centers, private and hybrid clouds, and even cloud colocation services. All of these will see a boost in market demand. In working with this demand, cloud leaders in the technology space need to have a focused, repeatable solution delivered quickly to address customer and market needs.

Repeatable solutions for emerging data center and cloud requirements

A big part of the cloud and data center balance is delivering critical architecture quickly to support market demands. Designed and built as an interoperable end-to-end solution, working with architecture that facilitates convergence allows you to have faster implementation by streamlining the process of designing, specifying, installing, and managing the increasingly complex physical infrastructure necessary to optimize your data center.

Given the enormous expense of operating data centers, organizations must design and deploy an architecture built to meet future needs, which requires scalability to meet changing business demands and optimization of IT investments. Repeatable converged solutions not only help with time to deployment and speed to market, but they also address delivering value throughout the data center lifecycle. So, by eliminating or reducing the complexity of multiple engaging vendors, organizations can dramatically improve procurement speed and time-to-market.

Organizations can lower operational expenses, including reduced cooling energy costs by up to 50 percent, via cooling optimization and power management.

By deploying a comprehensive yet complementary suite of hardware and software, supported by an expert services team who understands them intimately, installation can be executed quickly, efficiently, and with quality assurance.

It’s important to note that it’s not just about repeatable solutions and reducing complexity. You’re also improving the operations of your technology ecosystem as well as your business. Look for a suite of purpose-built solutions for interoperability, facilitating data centers optimized for capacity, efficiency, resilience, and security. This approach works equally well for existing data centers, new developments, cloud deployments, and even edge computing by applying intelligence to the operations to identify opportunities for improvement.

An example is in-line metering to monitor power consumption. This not only helps create new operating efficiencies but also helps to measure — and verify — actual power consumption, a growing compliance demand for today’s high-performance data centers. By simplifying each of these stages of data center management, organizations can address the entire lifecycle and identify opportunities for operational efficiencies that can then be incorporated into the design, which influences procurement and deployment on an ongoing basis. The result is a framework for continuous improvement throughout the data center lifecycle.

Download the full report, “Performance, Efficiency, and Sustainability: The New Cloud and Data Center Balance” courtesy of Panduit to learn more about the new cloud and data center balance. In our next article, we’ll examine the design considerations to help you create a more balanced architecture.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. Bill is currently a freelance analyst, speaker, and author for some of our industry's leading publications.

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