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The Evolution Of Colocation Facilities: Smart Technologies And Hybrid IT

The Evolution Of Colocation Facilities: Smart Technologies And Hybrid IT

Colocation vendors are generally very quick to adopt the latest technologies. For example, they were amongst the earliest adopters of smart technologies. Colocation vendors are therefore in a position to influence the further development of those technologies. For example, colocation vendors are currently influencing the development of hybrid IT.

Here is what you need to know about the evolution of colocation facilities and how colocation facilities have contributed to the evolution of hybrid IT infrastructure.

The evolution of colocation facilities

The evolution of collocation facilities began in the late 1990s. By this point, the use of IT had become firmly embedded in the world of business (and in academia). It was starting to go mainstream in the consumer world. Networking was a reality and the internet was on a clear growth trajectory. Its potential for businesses was becoming clearer every day.

While these changes obviously had massive potential benefits for businesses across all sectors (and the consumers they served), they also created challenges. In particular, the growth of IT was leading to a growth in devices and the associated infrastructure. This was still kept literally on-premises and managed by in-house IT staff.

As IT continued to grow, businesses started to struggle to find both space and staff. Larger businesses were able to resolve the space issue by building their own data centers. Their large budgets also gave them a significant advantage in recruiting and retaining IT staff. Smaller businesses, however, clearly needed an alternative. The colocation sector was created to provide it.

The early days of colocation data centers

Although the introduction of colocation facilities was itself a major step forward, it was only the start of what was to be a long (and ongoing) journey. It was quickly discovered that the adoption of colocation facilities brought about a new set of challenges. As a result, the next step in the evolution of colocation facilities was to address these challenges.

Here is a quick overview of the three main challenges faced by the original colocation facilities and how they overcame them.

Integration issues

Colocation vendors faced much the same issues as early adopters of hybrid IT. They had to find ways to make disparate systems co-exist harmoniously without compromising security. They achieved this by focusing on standardization both within and across systems.

Security concerns

Most new developments raise security concerns, particularly in IT. A major step in the evolution of colocation was going from being perceived as convenient but risky to being perceived as both convenient and secure. Colocation vendors achieved this by investing heavily in security. They also achieved and maintained compliance with recognized data security frameworks and standards.

Demand for resources

Then as now, colocation facilities required significant resources to operate, particularly electricity, water, and network connectivity. Then, as now, colocation vendors used a three-pronged strategy to ensure access to these resources.

Firstly, they chose their sites with access to resources in mind. Secondly, they actively worked with stakeholders to encourage the development of these resources. Thirdly, they did as much as possible themselves to ensure they retained access to these resources.

For example, then as now, it was standard for colocation facilities to have massive levels of redundant infrastructure and multiple service contracts for all key resources. They would also try to implement fallback workarounds such as fuel generators for electricity. These options were not suitable for long-term use but could get a facility through an emergency.

The shift towards smart technologies

Smart technologies are intelligent systems that leverage data and automation to optimize processes and decision-making. In the context of colocation facilities, smart technologies are typically used to enable automation.

Automation reduces manual intervention in routine tasks, minimizing the risk of human errors and improving operational efficiency. AI algorithms analyze vast datasets to identify patterns, enabling predictive maintenance and proactive problem resolution.

Moreover, smart technologies have also redefined resource management within colocation facilities. AI-driven insights enable providers to allocate resources dynamically according to demand, ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency.

The rise of hybrid IT environments

The most recent step in the evolution of colocation is arguably taking colocation back to its early days. On the one hand, the move to hybrid IT environments is opening up the same sort of opportunities for businesses as colocation did in its early days. On the other hand, it’s also presenting very similar challenges.

As with the early days of colocation, businesses implementing hybrid IT also need to think about integration issues, security (and compliance and data sovereignty). Access to resources may be less of an issue. The sustainability of those resources, by contrast, most definitely is.

Fortunately, modern businesses implementing hybrid IT can benefit from the experience of colocation vendors. Many of these now offer what are essentially plug-and-play solutions that address the integration and security issues of hybrid IT environments. Moreover, colocation vendors are increasingly implementing green initiatives that help businesses meet their sustainability goals.


Related Resources:

Benefits Of Carrier-Neutral Colocation Facilities

Colocation Compliance With Data Privacy Laws

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