A long time ago, in a data center far, far away… the idea of managed services was not yet reality. When Star Wars™ first hit screens in 1977, data centers were experiencing a period of unprecedented innovation. The year not only saw a 4004 processor introduced by Intel, but also an unveiling of the first LAN (ARCnet). This ushered in an era characterized by large, physical IT infrastructures – built to collect, store, and manage massive volumes of business-critical data. Fast forward to present day: Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens is coming to theaters this December… And the Force still runs strong within the data center.
Big data and IoT have set in motion major transformations across the IT infrastructure. Data is everywhere and touches every part of business – from medical records and customer analytics to sales figures and market research. Industry firm IDC projects the digital universe will surpass 40 zettabytes by 2020, as the number of connected devices exceeds 32 billion. As unstructured big data is often the edge businesses require to gain competitive advantage, today’s data centers must be fully aligned to tap this value.
Both cloud and virtualization have easily emerged as key paths to effectively manage the exploding data universe, while injecting much needed agility, flexibility and cost-savings into the infrastructure. A recent study by IDG found nearly 70 percent of companies already have deployed cloud-based infrastructure, and enterprises continue to spend an average of $3.3 million per year on this next-generation model. These transformations are causing businesses to significantly rethink how each currently operates and manages their current infrastructures. For many, managed services is the solution.
The approach hands specific IT functions and technologies to a third-party, providing the flexibility to build out data center components as they are needed. A managed service provider assumes responsibility for deployment, management and maintenance, so IT staff can prioritize business-critical issues. These services – ranging from cloud and storage to disaster recovery and security – are typically offered on a subscription or “as-you-go” basis. All functionality is backed by the highest levels of security and reliability as required by industry SLAs as well as SLA’s defined by the business.
The model has become so popular that research indicates demand will jump significantly during the next five years. MarketsAndMarkets projects the $100+ billion space will reach $200 billion before 2020. Much of this growth is based on the power to handle “what’s next” scenarios, allowing companies to leverage IT trends prior to undertaking significant capital and resource investments. Ultimately, the managed services alternative becomes the highly agile and flexible infrastructure necessary to adapt as the business demands. This is the ideal foundation for tapping into the power of big data, IoT, cloud – and whatever lies ahead.
We’re a long way from the maiden voyage of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon – and the data center has been through significant changes since that time. With IT emerging as a key competitive differentiator for businesses, managed service providers help companies grow and accelerate at light speed. By teaming with partners like CenturyLink, the Force just may be on your side.
This article was originally posted to Forbes Voice on November 12, 2015.