Cloud computing may be the most disruptive technology of this generation. It introduced a new computing paradigm that makes processing, storage, and networks more accessible, scalable, and flexible than ever before.
Most of the technical discussion around cloud computing has been about virtualization, automation, scalability, security, orchestration, and provisioning. What has been largely overlooked in this discussion is the importance of data centers to cloud computing.
According to RagingWire’s CTO, Bill Dougherty, "The best cloud in the world is useless if customers can’t rely on it. With all the focus on cloud virtualization, we have lost sight of the physical reality of the cloud. The cloud lives in a data center, and where the cloud lives matters. To power the clouds of the future, data centers must deliver 100% availability, high-density power and cooling, full security, massive low-latency telecommunications, and efficient operations."
To learn more about the critical relationship between cloud computing and data centers, you can watch this webinar called "Cloud + Data Centers: The IT Platform for Internet Applications and Businesses." The webinar is hosted by Larry Cornett, Ph.D. of Gigaom Research, and features Bill Dougherty and cloud computing experts David Linthicum and Rich Morrow.
RagingWire is proud that many of the top cloud companies house their server farms and storage arrays in our data centers. These cloud companies tell us that they look for five core elements in a data center:
Power – cloud computing requires reliable, affordable, and high-density power feeds from their data centers. The best data centers also have battery backup, diesel generators, and monitoring and automation systems so that if the utility power drops, the power to your servers stays up.
Cooling – cloud systems generate a lot of heat and can run even hotter during usage spikes. Cloud data centers should have high-capacity cooling systems that can target heat points and adjust dynamically. To manage costs and help maintain the environment, these systems need to run efficiently at low or high speeds and take advantage of cool outside air when possible.
Telecommunications – look for a carrier neutral data center that delivers local network points of presence (PoPs) to multiple telecommunications providers and offers interconnectivity to sites in the data center and across data centers.
Security – only authorized individuals should be allowed to approach your cloud system and their activity should be continuously monitored. Multi-factor security systems should be integrated end to end with no gaps, include advanced technologies such as high definition video and iris scanners, and provide detailed access reports when needed. Don’t forget the human element of an onsite security team that you can trust.
Operations – it’s not easy to run a mission critical facility 7x24x365. Cloud data center operators should be experts and be able to show you extensive run books and method of procedure (MOP) documentation that they use to run the data center. Also, maintaining equipment is key to 100% availability. Look for data centers that can maintain equipment during production by using spares and backup. Maintenance windows without live backups can be times of risk for your cloud.