Plan today, bare metal tomorrow

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Regardless of when (and if) we return to the old way of doing things or embark on a new normal, one thing every company should take away from our collective experience is that it is essential to plan for the unexpected. Digital Infra Network spoke to Russell Cozart, senior vice president of marketing and product strategy, Cyxtera Technologies about the advantage of bare metal platforms

If someone had told you over the holidays that in a few months’ time, most — if not all — of your employees would become a remote workforce almost overnight you would have laughed. Fast forward to the present and what would have sounded almost comic in November has become a reality. 

Today, we are seeing companies, regardless of size or vertical, struggle to come to grips with a nearly entire remote workforce and the corresponding issues of access, capacity, and security that surround this almost overnight mobilisation to the home office. “Interestingly, at least as seen through the lens of a data centre provider, is how in a time when working together means working apart, so many of the hurdles companies are facing can be addressed by remote colocation services and the bare metal platform,” Russell Cozart, senior vice president of marketing and product strategy, Cyxtera Technologies, says. “Adding to the complexity is what the lasting impact of this situation might be in the way enterprises consider and deploy infrastructure and think about connectivity if we continue in this vein through 2020. What are currently viewed as temporary measures may well become the new normal.”

Rack, stack and integrate

As organisations and their employees continue to feel their way through this new business environment, we are seeing two major issues rise to the surface.

First, organisations are coming face to face with a staggering, unanticipated need for both additional capacity and infrastructure. “Everybody is grappling to keep up with the level of demand that enterprise customers are requiring,” Cozart adds. “They are facing unprecedented demands on systems, tools, and capabilities that simply were not built or designed for this level of simultaneous, remote use.

“What is more, the kind of resources customers deploy into a physical data centre are not instantaneous. Under optimal circumstances, it could take an enterprise anywhere from three to six months to deploy their network and security equipment, compute, and storage into a colocation facility. Today, in what could best be called sub-optimal conditions, delivery timelines are getting extended daily, and equipment orders that once would have taken two weeks to arrive are now taking two months, at a minimum.”  

Second, there is the issue of access. Companies are facing long lead times in an effort just to procure additional infrastructure. “Even if they have the infrastructure, they are still wrestling with the question of how to get it racked, stacked, and integrated,” Cozart continues. “You need to get people to the data centre — whether it’s yours or someone else’s — during a time when everyone is actively engaged in restricting the number of people at any given place.

“The beauty of bare metal platforms is that they provide additional infrastructure and connectivity without the need to send anybody to the data centre. By logging into a web-based portal and clicking provision, you can scale up your infrastructure. One and done.”

Remote times two

Today’s enterprises are now in a position where they need cloud-like scalability and the ability to spin up additional connectivity and resources into the public cloud. But they are hampered by the fact that their mission-critical applications and 60-plus per cent of their workloads live on physical infrastructure, either in their own data centre or a third-party colocation provider’s data centre. “Essentially, they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t,” Cozart explains. “But that is simply not the case. 

 “Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to expanding your workload and application footprint, it is not an either/or, on-prem/public cloud scenario. Bare metal platforms offer the best of both worlds — the financial and operational flexibility of cloud coupled with the control, performance and security of enterprise-grade dedicated infrastructure.” 

Brilliant resilience 

In times of crisis – pandemic or otherwise – companies want something that is not only fully scalable but resilient while still affording control. “With colocation data centres, while the physical infrastructure is off site, you retain control no matter if you are operating out of your office headquarters or your home, allowing your team to adapt to and overcome various system failures.” Cozart says. “Looking ahead, the need to balance financial and operational flexibility with the benefits afforded by an enterprise-grade, dedicated infrastructure is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it is highly likely that enterprises will be looking to Colo providers that offer bare metal solutions as the preferred route going forward.

“Overall, we are seeing that companies who jumped on the bare metal bandwagon early are better positioned to ramp up operations. With bare metal platforms, customers do not have to make the difficult decision to push things out to the public cloud that really do not belong there or agonise over how to repurpose infrastructure to free up additional capacity. Bare metal is ideally suited to customers suddenly in need of additional capacity and infrastructure, which is just about everybody these days, let us face it. These companies can focus on other essential business functions, secure in the knowledge that their connectivity, compute, and storage capacity needs are being met.”

Me and my shadow

Remote data centres were social distancing before it was cool. Even in normal times, remote data centre workforces can act as your eyes and ears — and hands. According to Cozart, thanks to operational efforts within each location, small, highly compartmentalised teams are segregated within the data centre, allowing companies to protect our own people while still offering the same, or even increased, capabilities to address customer needs. 

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