In the not-so-distant past, the question of where to locate application workloads was hardly much of a question at all. Organizations managed most of their IT infrastructure in-house, whether that meant storing assets in a private data center or simply a server room somewhere in one of their office buildings. Whenever a new application needed to be launched, it would be deployed and managed within that environment, often with little regard for actual performance requirements.
Today, however, companies face a much different landscape when it comes to questions of workload placement. That’s because accelerating digital transformation trends have fundamentally altered the nature of IT environments across nearly every industry. When launching a new application, tech leaders need to consider a variety of factors to make sure they’re locating key processing functions and data in the optimum location within their infrastructure.
Primary Options for Workload Placement
Depending upon how much an organization has diversified its tech stack, it could have several options available for their key workloads. If they’ve invested in building a hybrid IT structure, they can even shift those workloads dynamically as the need arises to maximize efficiency and performance. In most cases, there are four primary options when considering workload placement.
An on-prem deployment is the descendant of the in-house IT solutions that were once a mainstay of tech-driven organizations. All infrastructure, servers, and data are located in a private data center or server room. Although expensive to build, maintain, and scale, they provide a high degree of visibility and can offer significant performance benefits when properly designed.
In a colocation solution, organizations migrate their IT assets into a third-party data center that provides space, power, cooling, connectivity, security, and maintenance. Colocation data centers are usually much more energy efficient than legacy on-prem facilities and provide extensive connectivity options, which is ideal for applications that need to reach a wide range of customers. They’re especially useful for workloads that require edge computing capabilities because they can often be located much closer to end users.
Hosted Private Cloud
Virtualization technology has made it possible for companies to manage a wide range of complex applications without having to purchase a single server. In a hosted private cloud environment, a third party data center rents out virtualized space on managed hardware. Using hypervisors, they’re able to abstract processing resources and parcel it out to customers. Much like traditional colocation, customers still have a great deal of control over which data center location is handling their workloads and data.
When most people think of cloud computing, they’re typically thinking about a public cloud offering of some kind. Public cloud providers manage their own data centers and provide pooled processing resources to customers. Unlike a hosted private cloud, which is essentially a virtual server that must be set up and managed like a physical server, public clouds provide pre-built tools and resources that allow customers to get up and running much faster.
A Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering includes an operating system and the basic infrastructure needed to build and run applications within the cloud environment. A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution provides a ready-built application that can be integrated into other software to perform certain tasks. An organization could, for instance, have an application running in a PaaS environment (such as AWS or Azure) and distribute some of its workloads into various SaaS solutions.
10 Essential Workload Placement Considerations
When thinking about the best place to host workloads, organizations should always put the needs of the application first. Making decisions based on what sounds easiest to manage or least complicated to deploy will usually cause problems down the road due to one of the following factors:
Sheer processing power is critically important for many of today’s sophisticated applications. Hosting workloads in the most powerful resources available is the best way to ensure that performance won’t be an issue when new software launches. In some instances, this might require building specialized on-premises assets, but many organizations can get the same benefits from leasing bare metal servers from a colocation facility with robust connectivity options for hybrid IT deployments.
Latency is the delay resulting from the time it takes a data packet to physically travel from one endpoint of a network to another. If a workload is being processed in a data center that’s geographically distant from an end user, for instance, the application is more likely to be slow and unresponsive. Placing workloads closer to end users as part of an edge computing strategy is a good way to ensure that latency doesn’t hold an application back.
Legacy systems often require access to specific resources in order to function effectively. An application designed to run on proprietary hardware or a unique operating system, for instance, will need to be hosted in the same location as those assets. While legacy hardware can be effectively migrated into a more efficient colocation environment, it’s often best to think about how dependent applications can be rearchitected to operate within a true hybrid environment to ensure future flexibility.
In addition to dependencies, it’s also important to think about how challenging it might be to move application workloads in the future. For deployments using cloud resources, shifting provider costs often make it necessary to shift from one cloud platform to another. Workloads running on physical servers also may need to move to another location as part of a hardware refresh. Ideally, workloads should be configured in such a way as to be portable, whether through containerization or by using Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) techniques.
Few situations are more devastating to a business than system downtime. When customers lose access to services and data, they are more likely to look elsewhere for alternatives. In some industries, just a few moments of downtime can cost millions due to lost opportunities and productivity. Colocation facilities frequently offer high SLAs as well as extensive backup redundancies to maintain data availability as much as possible.
One of the biggest challenges facing any workload is scalability. It’s easy to assess existing computing, storage, and networking needs, but those requirements can change significantly over time. Hosting workloads in a capital intensive environment like an on-premises data center could make it prohibitively expensive to expand capacity as business increases. Cloud environments are inherently scalable and can do so at relatively modest cost, so hosting workloads in the cloud or connecting to cloud services through a hybrid cloud environment is often the best choice for preserving future flexibility.
With the risk of data breaches on top of mind for most organizations, it’s important to place workloads in environments that adhere to the very best security practices. Large enterprises frequently have information security teams capable of handling cybersecurity in-house, but for most start-ups and smaller companies, it’s frequently much more effective to find a colocation or cloud provider that has proven systems in place for managing risk, monitoring activity, and responding to incidents.
For many industries, compliance with specific information security or data privacy standards is foundational to their business. A financial services company, for instance, can expose itself to massive repercussions by hosting workloads in an environment that’s not compliant with PCI DSS or ISO 27001. Building a compliant infrastructure and conducting regular audits to ensure it remains in alignment with regulations is a full-time task that many IT teams simply can’t manage on their own. Colocation and cloud providers frequently have entire compliance departments dedicated to ensuring that they’re maintaining secure infrastructure for their customers.
One of the challenges of moving applications into a new environment is maintaining transparency into how they’re performing and retaining the control necessary to adjust them as needed. While an on-premises environment might sound like the ideal solution for retaining visibility and control, many of these solutions lack the tools necessary to monitor performance accurately. Colocation and cloud services may take direct, day-to-day responsibility for managing assets and applications, but they frequently have sophisticated tools that allow them to monitor workloads and react quickly when changes are necessary.
Every workload placement consideration must ultimately take cost into account. In a perfect world, an organization might want to have its entire tech stack running on internal systems with a fully staffed team managing its every need. Building out that infrastructure, however, means investing less money in innovation and pushing valuable resources toward areas that aren’t core business capabilities. By deploying workloads across multiple environments as part of a hybrid IT strategy, organizations can frequently realize much greater value and avoid taking on costs that could inhibit growth and agility in the future.
Experience Evoque’s Unique Workload Placement Philosophy
At Evoque Data Center Solutions, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make decisions about workload placement much easier and intuitive for our customers. That’s why we developed our innovative Multi-Generational Infrastructure (MGI) approach that puts workload placement at the center of your infrastructure planning.
We begin by looking at your application’s unique requirements and creating a migration plan that maximizes its potential. Thanks to our multiple data center locations and cloud consulting experience, we’re uniquely positioned to provide you with a range of options that include colocation in a connectivity-rich data center, deployment to a cloud environment, or even the construction of a build-to-suit facility that’s customized to your specifications. Once your deployment is up and running, our SpendAgility service allows you to shift workloads from one environment to another quickly and easily, even under your existing contract.
To learn more about how our high availability colocation facilities and cloud consulting experience can help you solve your workload placement challenges, talk to one of our data center experts today.