When people think about cloud computing, they often think of something intangible – some virtual space in the sky that magically holds information and computing resources. A huge misconception surrounding the cloud is that it eliminates all physical infrastructure entirely! The cloud is still powered by tangible infrastructure in physical data centers. The difference is that the business and its users don’t have to interact with these resources once they move to the cloud.
Traditional Data Centers
Traditionally, businesses had their own, on-site data centers that held essential equipment. They had to have a team in place to constantly manage and maintain this, and that removed a lot of focus from the business itself. This traditional solution is limited, especially when you think about capacity. These on-premises data centers were inflexible, making it difficult to change the amount of storage and workloads without investing huge amounts of money in additional equipment and its installation.
A Cloud Data Center
So what do data centers mean in reference to the cloud? The two terms are not interchangeable, but they do work together. A data center is a facility that stores servers and other computing equipment. As such, a cloud provider uses data centers to house its cloud services and resources. Data centers are necessary to power cloud solutions. They hold the physical infrastructure that delivers cloud services to businesses, and within these facilities, the provider handles the management, ongoing maintenance and security that is necessary.
A cloud provider often owns multiple data centers across various geographic locations. This ensures data availability at all times, in case one location is affected by an outage or some other type of failure.
With a cloud data center, the hassles that traditional data centers create are removed. These facilities provide a scalable solution with nearly unlimited capacity for businesses, depending on the cloud solution and the provider. Organizations simply access the resources they need from the data center via the Internet, and can adjust the amount they need as they go. This frees up an IT team to focus more on innovation and development, rather than on maintenance all the time.
Additionally, cloud data centers lead to cost savings, as the business is no longer the one investing money in infrastructure and its maintenance. The cloud provider handles all of that, and the associated costs. Businesses simply pay as they go, adjusting usage based on their changing needs.
It is another common thought that moving to the cloud is less secure than continuing with an on-premises solution. This is untrue, as security depends solely on the provider an organization works with. The fact is that cloud computing can provide improved data security compared to what organizations are used to. Providers can and will implement and manage better IT security controls than most internal IT departments are able to. Cloud providers are able to afford the best in security technology, and have the necessary team of cloud and security experts to maintain this technology.
Data centers aren’t obsolete. They are merely transforming. In fact, they are extremely important for cloud computing, as they power cloud solutions. For more information on data centers and how they are impacted by the cloud, take our Data Centers course for free!