How can off-premise data centers deliver a secure, scalable, connected alternative?

This article highlights how organizations, both mid-market and large-enterprise are evaluating and deploying this IT technology now, the role that data centers will play, and how they plan to meet their storage and data processing needs in the next 24 months.

How can off-premise data centers deliver a secure, scalable, connected alternative?
How can off-premise data centers deliver a secure, scalable, connected alternative?

What’s included in this report:

  • Surveying Today’s Data Center Landscape
  • Putting Off-Premise Data Centers in Context
  • Selecting and Justifying the Right Off-Premise
  • And much more

Read this article to gain insights uncovered from the decision-makers surveyed as they develop new IT solutions.

Content Summary

Introduction
Surveying Today’s Data Center Landscape
Putting Off-Premise Data Centers in Context
Selecting and Justifying the Right Off-Premise
Conclusion

Read this article from NTT to learn how off-premise data centers deliver a secure, scalable, connected alternative.

This article highlights how organizations (mid-market and large-enterprise) are evaluating and deploying IT technology now, the role that data centers will play, and how they plan to meet their storage and data processing needs in the next 24 months.

What’s included in this article:

  • Surveying Today’s Data Center Landscape
  • Putting Off-Premise Data Centers in Context
  • Selecting and Justifying the Right Off-Premise
  • Get the four key insights uncovered from the decision makers surveyed as they develop new IT solutions.

Introduction

To understand how organizations are evaluating and deploying technology now, and to gain insight into how they plan to meet their storage and data processing needs in the next 24 months, NTT commissioned Spiceworks Ziff Davis to survey 500 information technology decision makers (ITDMs) across a variety of roles, and from a wide range of mid-sized and large enterprises throughout North America. The respondents’ organizations are all either using or considering at least one third-party data center.

NTT commissioned Spiceworks Ziff Davis to survey 500 information technology decision makers (ITDMs) across a variety of roles, and from a wide range of mid-sized and large enterprises throughout North America.
NTT commissioned Spiceworks Ziff Davis to survey 500 information technology decision makers (ITDMs) across a variety of roles, and from a wide range of mid-sized and large enterprises throughout North America.
The respondents’ organizations are all either using or considering at least one third-party data center.
The respondents’ organizations are all either using or considering at least one third-party data center.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact that COVID-19 has had on today’s enterprises. The pandemic has blocked or limited access to workplaces and other facilities, strained business resources at every level, and left companies scrambling to update their workflows. Many employees and customers are now working remotely, and much on-premise equipment is now out of the direct reach of users. In some cases, workplace lockdowns have made it difficult to physically access on-premise servers for repairs or even routine maintenance.

All of this has put a harsh light on enterprises’ overriding IT needs: reliable access to data and systems, stringent security efforts and legal compliance, and computing infrastructure that can smoothly adapt to business changes.

To address their IT infrastructure needs, and to meet the rising demands of their customers, organizations are already deploying or planning to deploy a range of digital transformation technologies within the next two years, from software-defined networking to integration with third-party APIs. Many of these technologies require compute at massive scale, are bandwidth or storage intensive, or are highly sensitive to latency. However, when properly implemented they can help organizations deliver fast, reliable access to employees or customers, while drastically limiting the impact of equipment or network failures.

Technologies Currently/Planning to Use for Digital Transformation
Technologies Currently/Planning to Use for Digital Transformation

One key finding from the hundreds of professionals surveyed is that IT professionals are increasing their off-premise data center use. More than half of organizations, especially larger enterprises, are planning to incorporate off-premise data centers into their infrastructure strategy.

This article examines the attitudes and preferences of IT professionals utilizing a wide range of on- and off-premise IT infrastructure. By focusing on how these IT experts view off-premise data centers as part of the larger information ecosystem, we can gain a better understanding of the factors that drive preferences, and ultimately, decisions.

The information gleaned from this survey also reveals that ITDMs view off-premise data centers as part of their future business strategy, and illuminates the objectives and concerns that drive their decisions in selecting them.

Surveying Today’s Data Center Landscape

Decades ago, off-premise data centers were mostly utilized for sensitive information and disaster recovery, but access was limited by slow and expensive data links. In the time since, decreasing bandwidth costs and richer remote hosting options mean that data no longer has to be on-premise in order to ensure fast, easy access. And with the rise of both public cloud and specialized SaaS offerings, it’s no longer a given that data processing is best done in-house, either.

Today, organizations have an array of options for both storage and processing. Where data “lives” has shifted over time as technology has evolved. High-speed networks and remote storage have made it less important for most data to be physically local. What matters now is that access to data is fast, reliable, and secure enough to support any and all vital business operations.

Where and how data is processed is also no longer as simple and straightforward as it used to be. Just as data can be held locally or remotely, the same is true of processing workloads. With fast enough access, numbers can be crunched, or records updated, across the hallway, or across the country – with no noticeable difference in latency. This extends and enhances the way users work with programs and platforms, as networking speeds make complete virtual desktop infrastructure a practical, productive solution for a work from anywhere (WFA) environment.

With end-to-end encryption and sufficient bandwidth, a secure remote desktop can feel virtually as responsive as a desktop at office headquarters. Likewise, remotely stored data can seamlessly integrate with fast on-premise processing, and vice versa.

This means organizations are now selecting from a mix of local, remote, and cloud resources, from both multi-cloud and hybrid IT infrastructures. Most enterprises employ a broad mix of approaches. So it’s no surprise that the IT professionals surveyed reported that their enterprises are using an average of 2.9 cloud service providers, with Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Platform topping the list.

Current Cloud Providers Used
Current Cloud Providers Used

The public cloud can’t satisfy the needs or requirements of every organization, however. Price is one important advantage for off-premise hosting: at large enough scale, dedicated off-premise data centers are simply cheaper per unit of storage. The cost of pulling data from the cloud can result in unexpected spikes in cost which are smoothed or avoided with dedicated off-premise hosting.

Off-premise hosting also allows an organization to continue using the same apps that it uses now, without requiring they be reconfigured for cloud use. For many legacy apps, there may never be a cloud-native version at all. Switching applications is a major cost not only in money, but in the time it takes to plan, vet, and switch over to the as-a-service version. For many apps, a switch to the cloud may also come with drastically greater licensing costs that can be avoided with off-premise hosting.

In some domains, such as financial institutions or multi-player game platforms, strict latency demands are a top priority, because in these industries, fractions of a millisecond can seriously affect performance, and even violate SLAs.

Customer experience is also critical. Even if an organization is merely hosting large video files, or customer-facing interactive systems, any noticeable lag time is unacceptable.

Roughly 40% of ITDMs reported that data center location is critical in considering an off-premise data solution.

This survey’s North America-based respondents overwhelmingly named North America as the region in which they needed access to off-premise data centers, with a broadly distributed need for regional presence within the U.S. Their single greatest need for data center presence is in the Northeast U.S., named by 46% of respondents. However, at least 10% of respondents also noted a need for data center access in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, or Latin America.

Needed Location Access From an Off-Premise Data Center
Needed Location Access From an Off-Premise Data Center

Putting Off-Premise Data Centers in Context

Data center technology is evolving constantly, and so are IT needs. This year, no doubt driven partly by the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 80% of respondents are looking to support a more remote – or fully remote – workforce. In designing or adjusting their IT infrastructures, IT professionals must continuously balance set-up costs, technological capabilities, and complexity of management to find the mix that works best to achieve their goals.

Planning for a Distributed IT Future
Planning for a Distributed IT Future

IT experts rarely go all-in on any single technology. Modern enterprise storage infrastructure typically employs multiple vendors, as well as multiple storage types. Data may reside on local servers, in the public cloud, in private clouds, or in dedicated off-premise data centers. Let’s look at why.

In the survey, 94% of IT professionals say their organizations have already implemented public cloud storage, or plan to within 24 months. Yet no matter how common cloud solutions are, on-premise data centers still serve a vital role in nearly all organizations. Of those surveyed, 97% say their enterprises use, or plan to use, some kind of on-premise or private cloud solution. Some on-premise data centers are no doubt for legacy storage, and are slated for upgrades – but on-premise storage can also be a strategic, ongoing part of a hybrid IT system.

Still, a wide range of enterprises are looking for off-premise data centers that offer cost and scale advantages over both commodity cloud storage and a conventional on-premise approach. Off-premise data centers can serve as a force multiplier, enabling hybrid solutions and leaving connectivity, administration, and power logistics in the experienced hands of the professionals working for the off-premise provider.

Average number of Off-Premises Providers Used 2.1

How common is the use of off-premise data centers? Of the professionals surveyed, 50% say their organizations have already deployed at least one off-premise data center, and another 40% report plans to deploy off-premise data centers in the next 24 months.

IT pros also will be relying less on private cloud or on-premise data centers for their data and workload distribution than they typically do now. Instead, they favor an increased use of hybrid cloud, hybrid infrastructure, and off-premise data center solutions.

Why the shift? The first answer is cost. While pure cloud-based solutions for data storage can be a solution for particular projects, they can quickly grow very expensive in comparison to hosting an enterprise’s own data in an off-premise center, especially as data loads grow ever larger.

You can’t build fast enough for rapid global scaling.

Just as important for agile enterprises is the capability for rapid expansion. In-house solutions may require a drawn-out design and approval process, or run quickly into on-premise capacity limits. By choosing off-premise data centers, organizations gain the ability to expand their infrastructure as fast as their organizational demands require.

Dedicated off-premise data centers also offer something public cloud providers can’t: direct, complete control over the security software protecting the hosted machines, and over the data they store. That kind of control is especially important in proving compliance with specific privacy or data retention laws, such as HIPAA and GDPR.

The advantages of off-premise data centers go beyond pricing and control. While cloud-only storage makes it simple to quickly ramp up a project from nothing, public cloud solutions naturally favor infrastructure flexibility over latency concerns or tightly restricted security. For some kinds of data, this less structured approach is adequate. But with large-scale data for which delivery speed is critical, a highly connected off-premise data center delivers that speed coupled with cloud-level scalability.

As with any aspect of IT infrastructure, off-premise data center solutions should all be examined carefully to ensure the right provider is selected as a partner.

Selecting and Justifying the Right Off-Premise

The qualities that ITDMs are looking for in an off-premise data center explain why they are so valuable and growing in popularity.

Asked to name the most critical features in an off-premise data center provider, 57% of ITDMs cited the ability to scale infrastructure as needed, and just as many named 24/7 support across all data center locations. Customer needs vary, however. Other factors named by more than half of respondents include consistent equipment availability, expansion capabilities, and the ability to respond quickly in a disaster.

Critical Off-Premise Data Center Features
Critical Off-Premise Data Center Features

When asked to pin down their single most important feature, though, ITDMs’ top three answers boiled down to 24/7 support across data centers, consistent performance, and deeply knowledgeable support staff.

Security and performance issues were major concerns among 34% of respondents, and a similar number cited worries that a data center’s bandwidth demands could affect their machines’ performance.

Not surprisingly, the most frequently named requirement in evaluating off-premise providers – listed by 50% of respondents – is up-to-date security accreditations. Nearly as many (47%) named workload and application compatibility, as well as a given solution’s fit within a certain budget or financial target (45%).

Compatibility and support quality were also named by 33% of those surveyed as issues in supporting off-premise workloads. Other challenges that respondents named include resistance to off-premise data centers by internal stakeholders (30%), and disaster recovery plans that don’t align with the enterprise’s own (26%).

Challenges & Concerns with Supporting Workloads Off-Premises
Challenges & Concerns with Supporting Workloads Off-Premises

These concerns haven’t stopped IT professionals from seeking the practical advantages of an off-premise data center strategy. Survey results reveal a long list of real-world benefits IT pros see in off-premise workload support, too. Among those surveyed, 25% named increased flexibility for expansion, regionally appropriate customization, and cost savings resulting from initial investment savings. Smart sizing was named as an expected benefit by 22% of respondents.

While the expected benefits of off-premise data centers may be broadly similar among vendors, ITDMs must also consider the value of each vendor’s service offerings, the breadth of their infrastructure, and their approach to regulatory compliance. Not surprisingly, though, the most important single piece of information that matters to ITDMs in making a business case for a vendor’s off-premise data center, cited by 32% of respondents, is that vendor’s actual performance data.

Conclusion

Off-premise data centers represent a long-sought solution for ITDMs at many enterprises. With the right provider, off-premise data infrastructure solutions are reliable, secure, and fast. They’re also built for connectivity, with network speeds and throughput that would be hard to replicate on premise. Like cloud storage, dedicated off-premise storage means that day-to-day infrastructure management is handled by expert on-premise staff. This enables enterprise IT departments to focus on their own priorities, from building new products to supporting advanced use cases. If equipment or connectivity problems arise, experts from the off-premise provider can address them immediately, day or night.

Unlike public cloud storage options, however, off-premise data centers keep your data on your own servers configured to your specifications in a fixed, known location. With a globally connected provider, they can be used to securely and economically house data in multiple locations across continents, for low-latency delivery and distributed backup. And for the cloud-based services that are vital to your enterprise, global off-premise data centers can connect to cloud providers from anywhere, delivering distributed, high-throughput connections for reliability, speed, and availability.

Number of Off-Premises Data Centers Used/Planning to Use
Number of Off-Premises Data Centers Used/Planning to Use

As you consider the advantages of using an off-premise data center, seek a provider who not only hosts and supports state-of-the-art equipment, but also offers:

  • 24/7 support, with on-site staff to serve as your remote hands in the data center
  • State-of-the-art network and physical security
  • A reliable connection you can control with private, secure interconnections to major cloud and SaaS providers
  • Data center presence near the locations that are central to your business, in North America or globally
  • A unified suite of services, including managed security, cloud services, and network services, to act as an extension of your IT team

Of surveyed IT professionals aware of NTT Global Data Centers, 88% say they are likely to consider NTT as a data center provider in the next 12 months.

An overwhelming majority of the ITDMs who are aware of NTT Global Data Centers are likely to consider the company as an off-premise data center provider in the next year, driven by NTT’s reputation for providing high-performing, secure data centers around the world.

NTT’s network of data centers spans the globe, is expanding rapidly, and has earned the trust of thousands of customers worldwide. With secure, robust connections to cloud providers, integrated services, and an unparalleled ability to scale, NTT is ready to power your infrastructure with off-premise solutions today, and help you grow in the future.

Key insights emerge from the decision makers surveyed, as they develop new IT solutions:

  • ITDMs are building tomorrow’s infrastructure with an eye on expansion capabilities and deep connectivity, and off-premise solutions are an increasingly important part of their plans. 83% of respondents whose organizations have not yet done so say those organizations are planning to include off-premise data centers in their IT infrastructure.
  • Half of the survey respondents’ organizations have already deployed off-premise data centers, and another 40 percent say they plan to in the next 24 months.
  • Rapid scaling and reliable, 24/7 support top decision makers’ must-have lists in choosing an off-premise data center provider.
  • Off-premise data centers’ advantages in price, control, and connectivity come with legitimate concerns about their security, performance, support, compatibility, uptime, and more. These concerns must be addressed, with real-world performance data, diligent compliance efforts, and service-level agreements.

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