“With the onset of cloud computing, the multi-tenant data center industry as we know it will be on the way out in five years.” –lots of people, a few years ago
Predicting the demise of the data center was in fashion a few years ago. When technologists would gather it was typical to hear concerns (and gleeful predictions, depending on the point of view) about the uncertain future of the data center industry. A widely held view was that customers would abandon colocation in favor of the public cloud, a sensible view, as this was what some end users were projecting as well. This was a fairly common refrain, whether from a panelist, a speaker, or simply in conversation. Technology futurists were making bold predictions about the cloud, and even some executives at major multi-tenant data center providers feared what their clients were telling them, that they expected to be in the public cloud in a few short years.
But reality has set in, and for most large organizations, migrating fully to the public cloud is not ideal. Careful, knowledgeable management and planning is needed to contain costs. Legacy applications don’t always work well in the cloud, and if your applications are not architected for the provider, typically AWS or Microsoft’s Azure, performance can suffer. Those delivering media and latency-sensitive content have become geographically sensitive and want to be in data centers close to their customers.
Security and control remain significant concerns, and compliance-sensitive organizations can be understandably resistant to infrastructure they don’t control for their mission critical applications. Highly-publicized data breaches damage companies and careers, leading to security being topic A and A1 in their conversations with analysts. Many with security concerns have chosen colocation in an environment they may not own but in a private suite they control. For others, security and compliance concerns make secure, private cloud, with virtualization occurring under their control, the solution of choice.
Private cloud and hybrid cloud have been widely adopted, and those private clouds have to exist somewhere. For many they exist in the multi-tenant data centers that they expected to abandon (or to have resisted) by now. The realization that the colocation data center industry is not going to disappear as everyone runs to major public cloud providers appears to have settled in among the tech masses.
Public cloud continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and most smart companies have it as a significant part of their IT infrastructure mix, for applications that are architected for the public cloud and make economic sense in the cloud.
But you don’t hear much talk about the multi-tenant data center industry going away any more. Both colocation and private data centers still have a significant, and growing role, in the IT infrastructure solution mix as smart companies choose blended solutions to take advantage of the strengths and avoid the weaknesses of infrastructure solutions both new and old.