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Pros and cons of shared data

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Not all shared data centres are alike, nor are the hosting services offered by the various data centres. So which is the best one for a business? HENNIE VAN TONDER looks at the pros and cons of the various hosting services currently available.

The need to reduce IT costs while increasing IT agility is driving accelerating demand for IT as a service – and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in particular.

That’s the view of Hennie van Tonder, head of Product at MWEB Business, who adds that another factor contributing to IT complexity is increasing demand from a mobile and remote workforce for the same level of access to corporate data and systems as on-site personnel.

He notes that the business landscape has changed irrevocably in the last 10 years as businesses have come to rely on technology, data and automation not for any tangible strategic advantage, but often just to keep up in today’s marketplace.

A major problem for many businesses is that despite the difficult economic climate, their need for increased computing power doesn’t diminish. However, the upfront capital expense (CAPEX) needed to upgrade or invest in additional servers can be prohibitive. A solution based on incurring operational expense (OPEX) such as that offered by shared data centres can be more attainable,” van Tonder adds.

Affordability is only one of the benefits of shared data centres. Data centre providers like MWEB Business offer customers flexibility, cost savings and reliability: flexibility through the provision of various options, with the ability to quickly and easily scale up or down based on current business needs: and cost savings as a result of economies of scale: and reliability as a result of expertise in designing and implementing solutions as well as in-built redundancy and fail-over systems.

“There are many shared data centres both in South Africa and abroad that offer a range of hosting /data centre solutions. The trick for each business is to do a situation analysis in order to understand both current and future business infrastructure needs,” van Tonder says.

Among the most popular data centre services are:

Co-location/Rack space hosting: businesses own their own servers which are hosted in the service provider’s secure, environmentally controlled data centre with its in-built connectivity redundancy and guaranteed 24/7 power supply. The business can either manage and maintains its own servers: or the service provider can manage and support some or all systems on the servers including critical information and/or business systems: website and mail servers, back-up and anything else that may be required. Hardware support may also be available.

Managed Server hosting: The business “rents” its physical servers from the service provider. The service usually includes a full management and support option. A range of servers – from basic, entry-level for those with a conservative budget to high-end, power machines – is usually available.

Virtual Server Hosting: A cloud-based solution that opens the door to a full range of computing infrastructure, power and processes, quickly and affordably. It enables a business to rent server capacity – as opposed to the server itself – on demand. It delivers the performance of a server, the convenience of a hosted solution and the flexibility to upgrade and downgrade hardware specifications – including the ability to create additional virtual machines as required.

Virtual Data Centre: This is a data centre in the cloud – a hosting solution which allows full control of virtual machines, RAM, processing power and storage, offering the flexibility to define, create and manage your data centre, , but without the cost of equipment, power, network and manpower. This is true IaaS.

Which is the “best” solution? In order to assist businesses to choose, MWEB Business has listed a few of the pros and cons associated with each type of hosting service.

Pros

Cons

Co-locate

Utilise existing/legacy servers

Unlimited choice on server specifications and brand

Security/environmental/UPS/redundancy benefits of a shared data centre

Pay only for rack space used

Direct access to the internet or VPN services

Range of connectivity options, capped and uncapped

Investment in depreciating assets

Need to employ skills to maintain and support servers.

Travel time for IT personnel

Managed Server hosting

As above plus:

Servers upgraded as appropriate

Outsource management of entire technology infrastructure – hardware, software, 24/7 maintenance, management, support and back-up

Expert IT resources at your disposal

24/7 management of equipment

Firewall and VPN can be integrated

Choice of server brand/specifications could be restricted

Virtual server hosting

No physical hardware costs

Flexibility to upgrade resources as needed

Complete redundancy on server resources

May require some training as an on-boarding exercise

Virtual data centre

Get the control, security, flexibility and on-demand facilities of a fully-fledged data centre – without the cost of equipment, power, co-location, network and manpower

Add storage, RAM or increase CPU power almost instantly

Manage virtual machines remotely

You do not ‚Äòown’ any infrastructure

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