While not everyone will agree with the view that data centres have become the dinosaurs of IT, it is true to say that they have to work harder to reduce their carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment. Some environmental pressure groups like Greenpeace are targeting them as inefficient and there are some industry commentators who feel that they are expensive and unreliable. Yet there are a number of big companies that still elect to use them.

Mark Reynolds, Director of Technology at LinuxIT, adds that data centres can become expensive and unreliable because the set up and maintenance costs for the data centre can be prohibitive. He adds that it’s also important to factor in other considerations like your organisation’s skill set, the need for buildings to house the data centre, how you are going to cool the servers (heat management), its efficiency from a power consumption perspective (measured as a PUE rating), the cost of its carbon footprint, disaster recovery in the event of a fire, physical security and so on.

How data centres became the dinosaurs of the IT world

So how do you go about convincing your colleagues, and particularly those that support the data centre model, that it is time to make the move to ‘the cloud’? Well, your first obstacle is the fact that different people have different views about what constitutes the cloud. Analyst firm Gartner illustrates this problem in its ‘Cloud Computing Constituencies and Inconsistent Perspectives’ report, which was written by Tom Austin et al.

Austin and his colleagues say that cloud computing “decomposes into two divergent views, cloud and computing”:

  • The cloud view emanates from the internet and software-as-a-service (SaaS). The authors explain that the emphasis is placed on the consumption of services from outside of the enterprise: i.e. from the cloud
  • The computing perspective is about providing services and not consuming them, and this fits more into the traditional data centre approach and how it uses computer technologies like server virtualization and data centre automation as a means of being able to create and deliver services.

“These differing views are neither right nor wrong, but people in different roles and with different responsibilities are constituencies that often see the same things differently… but none of them has a monopoly on the one, true correct way of thinking about cloud computing”, they explain. Yet people still define the cloud differently.

Cloud computing can deliver superior security in spite of people’s fears and concerns about its capability to keep personal and commercially sensitive data secure. Mike Curtis, Executive Director of Service Delivery at LinuxIT, says that customers are looking for “increased flexibility in pricing models and service levels; faster speeds to market; less vendor and technology provider lock-in; and a devolution of responsibility away from the owner-managed IT infrastructure.”

“Sometimes the cloud can provide better security or resilience and other attributes”, says Bryan Foss, a visiting professor at Bristol Business School and an independent commercial and public sector board level advisor. He believes that this can occur if the provider has the skills, is professional and is well invested. Curtis and Reynolds also underline that the cloud won’t always deliver superior security in comparison to the data centre. They argue that much depends on the cloud provider and whether one is talking about the public, private or hybrid cloud.

Most data security concerns revolve around the public cloud; it can’t provide guarantees against certain types of information security policies. There therefore needs to be a balance between cost, flexibility, data and information security. So it’s advisable to speak to a company like LinuxIT which can help your organisation to move over to the cloud by assessing and identifying your business requirements, the type of cloud model you should adopt to secure your information and data, and assist you with its design and implementation based on years of experience and best practices. The LinuxIT team always works on finding the best fit for its customers.

For more ideas on how Open Source software could benefit your business, read our free eGuide Open Source surgery: Migrating from Unix to Linux.