Is dedicated hosting at the end of its life cycle? With public clouds on the rise and “as a service” versions of everything from storage to networking to disaster recovery now available, it’s tempting for companies to phase out dedicated servers in favor of cloudcentric alternatives.
But according to a Microsoft study, dedicated servers account for 48 percent of hosted infrastructure spending and will continue to top 40 percent over the next two years; in other words, dedicated hosting is still essential to the enterprise. Here’s why.
Are Dedicated Servers Heading Toward a Dead End?
The argument for cloud over dedicated services typically centers on the concepts of flexibility and scalability. A recent Tech Radar piece makes this argument: Since dedicated servers can’t scale on the fly, and data loads can’t be moved from server to server without significant downtime, cloud options may be the better choice for enterprise.
What’s more, reliability is often improved because, in the event of a power outage or a disaster, company data can be automatically migrated to a new server. Cost also makes its way into the dedicated-versus-cloud discussion: Because cloud resources spin up on demand, enterprises only pay for what they actually use.
Big companies like Microsoft are willing to take a chance on the cloud; Data Center Knowledge reports that the Redmond giant’s Azure cloud forms the infrastructure of Titanfall, the new, massively popular Xbox One and PC-exclusive video game from Electronic Arts. So what’s not to like about the cloud?
Whose Data Is It?
What’s the fundamental difference between dedicated hosting and the cloud? In the public cloud, sharing is a prerequisite — to lower the cost of compute resources, providers rely on large servers and shared tenancy. Dedicated options, meanwhile, give companies free run of an entire server, meaning the actions of other tenants won’t affect bandwidth or availability.
It’s also worth noting that despite increased uptime guarantees, cloud providers periodically experience outages. As a recent CIO Insight article notes, enterprises relying on services from Google, Microsoft and Amazon have suffered through downtime, and in some cases lost data. And as discussed by Gigaom, moving to the cloud isn’t always cheaper. Using average costs for a server with 30 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and approximately 300 GB of storage, author David Mytton found that moving to the cloud cost 250 to 500 percent more than using a dedicated hosting provider.
Security and transparency are also good reasons to go dedicated. Using a cloud server means relying on the security offered by your provider, while dedicated hosts let you choose whatever security and access controls best suit your needs.
Transparency, meanwhile, is especially critical during an outage. Cloud providers are typically unwilling to specify the exact cause of downtime or the steps taken to fix the issue, so enterprises are flying blind in the event of an outage. With a dedicated server, internal IT can go hands-on and prevent issues from reoccurring.
The Best of Both Cloud Worlds
It’s safe to say, then, that dedicated hosting isn’t dead in the enterprise space, but it’s also worth considering potential evolutions of this idea. One option is a local private cloud, which combines the scalability of cloud resources with the single tenancy of dedicated hosting.
A March 27 IT Web Business article notes that private cloud deployments are predicted to increase through 2014 as companies look for ways to balance compute power with local control. Colocation hosting is another option — here, enterprises supply their own server for use in a provider’s data center. All server maintenance, security and access is handled by local IT, and providers take care of power, network infrastructure and support.
Dedicated hosting still has a place in the enterprise IT landscape, from “traditional” deployments to options like colocation and private clouds. The trend to public alternatives continues — as augmentation, not replacement — for the dedicated enterprise server.
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