Where is the future of hosting? It surely will not be in smaller datacenters.
Perhaps the starting point of this shift was as early as 2010 when Microsoft’s CEO at that time, Steve Ballmer, held a speech at the University of Washington saying “We’re all in” for cloud computing. Steve’s speech came as a surprise to most people inside Microsoft that were still happy with the existing business, but it set the ball rolling in a much faster pace and it did set the direction for the future. [Source]
The cost for running hosting in smaller datacenters doesn’t make sense if you’re making all the necessary investments over time. And smaller data centers often lack in terms of resilience against hardware failures of any kind. It’s expensive to constantly do upgrades in a datacenter’s physical security, high-density electricity, cooling and backup power just to mention a few of the more expensive areas that needs regular investments.
But the problems are not just about cost – it’s about functionality and this is probably the most compelling reason to switch to one of the large cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon or Google and set up virtual data centers. All these three vendors have massive networks of datacenters that spans the globe, and they cannot only provide massive scale, but they’re also highly innovative when it comes to developing new and useful services that saves time, cost and increases user satisfaction. In the past, hosting was mostly about running virtual machines (VMs) in fail-over clusters that utilized one of the three main hypervisors for virtualization. Some hosters made a living out of taking care of websites or providing email accounts.
Today, hosting can and should be so much more than just the basics – and finding the right mix of traditional VMs, modern Kubernetes container clusters and smart ‘X as a Service’ services makes a perfect storm that will set your boat on a nice tailwind across the oceans. Why move your business to the cloud is a question that most customers today answer with a strong YES!
We saw this coming when we realized 8 years ago in 2015 that Azure and AWS were maturing into solid platforms that were fit for mission critical production workloads and not just for test and development as many believed at that time. As our CEO, Per Werngren, sat in various meetings with leaders at Microsoft Corp in Redmond, it became obvious where the future was heading.
As always, it takes a while before a trend reaches the masses and as often before, we thought that this change would happen sooner rather than later. Isn’t it often the case that when you think you see something, you think that the rest of the world sees it with your eyes…
Well, now we can say that reality finally catched up, and the cloud is now the first place that people think about when starting new ventures, whether it’s totally net new or just a new branch in an existing corporation. Data centers moving to the cloud is a very distinct trend today. A cloud server vs physical server is an easy question to answer for most decision makers.
Imagine how odd it sounds if a startup would invest in physical servers and spinning up a small server room in their basement. It’s not so much “Why move your business to the cloud?” and more “Why not start your business in the cloud!”.
We also see a trend of customers using hybrid scenarios where they move some workloads to the cloud and try to make a business case out of being in the best of two worlds. Gradually they’ll accelerate their move to the cloud and the importance is that they’re in control and can move in their own pace and balance their cost on-premises with adding cost in the cloud. We think that hybrid scenarios are justified in some cases, but most of the time it’s just part of the transition and part of learning to fully trust and embrace the cloud. Worth to mention is that there are great solutions from Microsoft and others for how to optimize hybrid scenarios and integrate on-premises with the cloud. The benefits of moving to the cloud are immense but you can very well work with hybrid scenarios and still get most of the benefits.
If hosting in smaller datacenters in the past was very much oriented towards infrastructure, then the cloud is not – and shouldn’t be purely about running infrastructure. Cloud hosting vs traditional hosting is so much more! In the cloud, most of the infrastructure is handled by Microsoft, Amazon or Google which offsets lots of cost as infrastructure engineers will be in less demand and can better be utilized for other more business-oriented tasks. In fact, Microsoft now talks less about ‘Infrastructure’ and have started to instead use the word ‘Core’ which symbolizes both the complexity and the opportunity with computing in the cloud.
The essence of hosting in the cloud lies in taking care of workloads in an optimized manner and finding the best way to have them delivered to the users. It used to be through Windows Terminal Services (Win RDS) with or without additional software from Citrix. Today we see that many customers are embracing more modern and functionality richer solutions from Microsoft like Windows 365 Cloud PC and Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).
As we’ve said goodbye to traditional hosting in smaller datacenters perhaps a bit too early, we can today say that it’s much more exciting with hosting in the cloud with virtual data centers where we see a much brighter future for how to service customers. The richness and robustness with the cloud, that is enhanced by marvelous additional functionality provided by various ISVs, makes it easier, better, and more affordable today than ever before. That’s evolution!
Perhaps we’re computer geeks, or techie-junkies, but we see that the opportunities are far better in the cloud as customers can better control their own cost base and at the same time increase agility in their IT operations.
Yesterday, we sold hosting from our own data centers, but now our business is to provide management of workloads or in other words managing everything that customers got in Azure in virtual data centers. The actual Azure subscription can be signed directly with Microsoft or with one of the many great partners out there that resell Azure.
Our most crucial service at Idenxt is to take responsibility for the wellbeing of the app. We’ll analyze the apps and together with our customer, we will set up a management plan so that we can take care of incident management 24/7. Apps are often spread over several resources and by having a focus on the app and not just the underlying resources we can take a more holistic view that leads to a higher quality of service. Apps are often connected to other apps or services which makes it important to document all dependencies and monitor them thoroughly so that our incident response team can take immediate and accurate action when needed.
We believe that when adding our services to Azure, you’ll get the best of two worlds and that is what we call a modern and smarter type of hosting.
Cloud hosting vs traditional hosting is a match that is easy to forecast and virtual data centers are the future!