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What is the Cloud? - Data Center Fundamentals

By Mike Netzer · 8/25/2020

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The most simplified way to describe the cloud is the use of virtual servers versus the use of physical servers. Utilizing someone else's IT infrastructure instead of having it yourself describes how people use the cloud today.

If you’re short on time, check out a few of our quick takeaways below.

Operating in the cloud has distinct advantages, primarily driven by the absence of physical infrastructure and the associated CAPEX. Instead of physically commissioning and installing new servers as you would with colocation, cloud servers can be deployed almost immediately and at a lower initial cost. Users also have easier access to their cloud ecosystem and can interact online instead of physically managing the servers from inside the data center.

There are three use-cases of the cloud: private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud. Each one has their own benefits and challenges.

Private cloud

Private cloud is your most controllable type of cloud deployment. Typically this is infrastructure in an area where you know where the physical servers are and they are dedicated just to you. This allows access only to the hypervisor or software layer that assigns workloads to the physical servers, but physical servers are only accessible by a single tenant.

Public Cloud

With public cloud you might not know exactly where your physical servers are, but you know the region they’re in. In contrast with private cloud, physical servers may be shared by multiple customers. This allows access to your data when you need it with a lower latency in that particular region. Some examples of companies who utilize public cloud include Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Softlayer.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud is exactly what it sounds like. It can be a mixed use of public, private, colocation, and even some on premise IT services. Companies will typically use a hybrid cloud approach to accommodate applications with different requirements around security, latency, etc.

Almost every company utilizes the cloud in some capacity. It solves problems that leasing physical servers can’t. Instead of housing a handful of racks on premise or going to colocation, now most small companies deploy their systems straight to the cloud and large companies utilize the cloud in various operations.

While the cloud has taken some requirements away from colocation, it has substantially increased the demand for colocation overall. In fact, cloud adoption is one of the biggest sources of data center absorption, based on our analysis and discussion with top providers, and we expect to see that trend continue.

Other things we talked about:

  • The benefits and challenges of the colocation side of the cloud
  • How COVID-19 has changed how businesses utilize the cloud
  • The reality of the cloud take over

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