You probably built a data center out of necessity as your business scaled up, but if data management isn’t your core business, then it has likely become an expensive distraction that hampers your agility. Every organization wants to be able to move first in the marketplace and pivot on a dime, and that’s one of the key drivers behind cloud infrastructure adoption.

The trend is advanced and irreversible. In fact, 94 percent of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centers by 2021, according to Cisco. Whether you’re in the middle of migrating, or still sitting on the edge, there are some compelling reasons to take the leap, and it can go smoothly, provided you plan carefully.

Rising costs and rigidity

Data centers are very costly to run. You need a large building with all sorts of networking and redundancies, AC to keep things cool, back-up generators and excess diesel onsite to keep things running. The center must be staffed with the right kind of people — people with skill sets that add little to your core business. Then there’s the ongoing cost of maintenance and the power it takes to keep those servers running 24/7, 365.

If you don’t have the scale, then you can’t create a data center that’s anywhere near as cost effective as one of the big service providers. There’s simply no escaping economies of scale. And speaking of scale, it’s not easy to scale up and down when your business requires it, so you’re faced with the prospect of burning cash for capacity you don’t use or shelling out for expansion.

Embracing the cloud

Whether you embrace the cloud or not, there’s a good chance that your employees already have. Shadow IT spending is soaring ever higher as people rush to leverage the latest and greatest developments in cloud software. Bypassing the IT department is all too common and it’s not a trend that’s likely to be reversed.

Flexibility and scalability are inherent with cloud services. Even security, once a major concern for cloud migration, is becoming a pull factor as more and more providers segment data across colocation facilities and ensure that it’s encrypted in transit or at rest. Throw in the fact that they monopolize the best talent and maintaining your own data center simply doesn’t make sense anymore.

Migrating safely

Having decided to take the leap it’s vital to work out how to do it safely without compromising on data access performance or security. Assess your network and systems and work out a schedule to shift them a little at a time to keep disruption to a minimum. For new developments look to the cloud and use your successful new projects and transitions as blueprints for other legacy assets.

Don’t give up control of your data. Find a way to integrate and establish a big picture view of your data centers, legacy systems, applications, and cloud environments. Done right, shedding your data center is an opportunity to modernize your infrastructure and free yourself and your employees to add value to your core business mission.

For a more comprehensive study, please see my article in Forbes, “When do you decide to ditch your own data center.”

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