Cloud doesn't answer all questions: Digital Realty

Businesses are looking to save costs, while increase efficiency by moving data into the cloud, but they don't necessarily have a complete understanding of the cloud before they make that decision.

Cloud — to an extent — helps businesses increase flexibility, reduce costs, and simplify their IT solutions, but it's not the right solution for everyone, explained Damien Spillane, Digital Realty head of sales engineering.

Speaking with ZDNet at the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations and Datacentre Summit 2014 in Sydney, Spillane admitted that cloud is "absolutely unbeatable" for some business requirements, but an in-house infrastructure is still needed.

"The cloud is a great enabler but it doesn't answer all the questions, it doesn't solve all the technology problems that CIOs are faced with. That's why it's often a combination where organisations will use some cloud and use some datacentre space," he said.

Spillane said there are several challenges businesses still face and question when they look to moving their data into the cloud.

"If I talk about financial institutions, compliance, control, and risk are probably the three big things financial institutions depend on its technology and infrastructures for. By outsourcing to the cloud, you lose that control," he said.

"The other factor is you have organisations with in-house systems that work, and that have been customised, these are difficult to move into the cloud.

"Another factor we hear is that when they get to the cloud, businesses don't want to be locked into a solution. That control and flexibility are aspects that we'll see our customers suggesting are real reasons for them not to outsource all of their technology into the cloud."

Spillane also hinted that there's a disconnect that exists surrounding the knowledge about where is the cloud.

"There's this perception that cloud is completely separate, and it's this abstract concept that doesn't actually touch the earth," he said.

"The reality is the cloud does lives in a datacentre, and our perspective is that if you're looking at making long term technology and infrastructure decisions for your business, you need to know that the cloud you're going to outsource your IT to is being housed in a datacentre, and it's fitting to your requirements ... whether it is meeting the efficiency requirements, security requirements, resilience requirements, and compliance requirements that your business needs."

But with saying this, Spillane said businesses can achieve "incredible" savings if businesses move to an efficient data centre, and it's not just "an apples for apples comparison".

He draws on the National Australia Bank — one Digital Realty's Australian customers — as an example to how the bank decided to consolidate its 30 facilities , as part of its IT transformation strategy, into a Digital Realty-built data centre to reduce cost.

"Not just the cost of energy, but the cost of real estate, the cost of operating them, the cost of connecting them, all of those factors by centralising that into a single site that is more efficient and most cost effective, just from a bill perspective, your business can achieve savings right up to the stack," he said.