Five Advantages of Distributed Data Centers
An industry executives examines the need for businesses of any size to use distributed data centers and how they help build better software.
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Today, most major data centers offer virtual servers for rent with all the necessary IT infrastructure. As a result, small, medium, and even large businesses do not have to buy hardware and cover its servicing and maintenance anymore. Indeed, virtual servers have plenty of advantages: a low entry price, complete manageability, high security, and almost limitless resources. However, if you decide to rent such a server, make sure the operator has a distributed network of data centers. The services of remote data centers may suddenly come in handy, and here's why.
1. Storing Data in Distributed Data Centers Is Safer
The level of information security is proportional to the distance between the centers and their number. It is particularly relevant if data loss carries significant business risks.
Storing all the data in a single data center is too risky, which is why any business should have backup copies in several data centers located as far away from one another as possible to avoid the consequences of a possible blackout. Here are only the largest of such catastrophes over the last couple of decades.
August 14, 2003 — the Northeast blackout in the USA and Canada: 50 million people were left without power supply.
September 31, 2012 — an emergency in the Indian power grid that affected over 600 million people.
High-reliability data centers (for instance, Tier III) are equipped with diesel generators that serve as backup power and prevent disruption even in the event of a blackout. And yet, autonomous power supply of a data center is the emergency mode, with limited power output and duration
Another risk is line interruption between cities, countries, or even continents. In this event, your data is not lost, but you may be unable to access it for a long time. Consequently, it makes sense to store multiple backup copies as far from one another as possible.
2. Distributed Data Centers Make Compliance With New 'Digital' Regulations Easier
Many countries have adopted laws that prohibit storing their citizens' personal data abroad. Among them are China, Singapore, Australia, and the UK.
The USA has yet to pass a federal law to this effect, but local legislations, for instance, in California, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, have their own personal data protection acts that effectively prevent companies from storing such data abroad.
A similar Russian law obligates foreign companies operating in the domestic market to use the services of data centers located in Russia. Unless this requirement is met, a company may suffer the same fate as LinkedIn, whose website has been blocked.
In other words, if you run an international company, it is highly likely that you may have to store your customers' data in their respective countries.
3. Data Transmission Speed Is Higher in Distributed Data Centers
Sometimes the speed of data flow is critical — for instance, in stock trading. Even a millisecond-long delay gives a considerable competitive edge to your rivals, who use this advantage to buy or sell stocks earlier than you. For this reason, traders opt for data centers in Frankfurt and London, in the vicinity of major exchanges.
Alternatively, a company may have a number of regional offices and a single corporate governance system — CRM, ERP, or another cloud solution — which caters to thousands of employees all over the world. In this case, data centers should be located in such a way that the distance from them to the affiliates is as small as possible. Otherwise, the company may experience serious delays.
The third case is an online shop that operates in several countries. The closer the website is to the customer, the faster it works. Again, this gives you a critical competitive edge.
According to the metrics, the performance of a website has a direct impact on conversion. As Akamai analysts found out, 40% of visitors leave if the website takes more than three seconds to load. Walmart learned that an online shop has only 0.25 seconds to retain a visitor before they move on to a competitor's site. A study conducted by Amazon shows that a one-second delay in the loading of a webpage results in a one-percent loss of conversion, which is the equivalent of losing $1.6 billion of the company's annual revenue.
4. Distributed Data Centers Lower Geopolitical Risks
The solution is still the same: it is advisable to store backup copies in multiple data center affiliates all over the world. Besides, any decent operator must have at least one data center in Switzerland, a stronghold of stability. Better still if the network geography includes London and Frankfurt. This is another proof of an operator's trustworthiness. In all, the more countries and cities are covered, the better.
5. Lower Transactional Costs
In theory, you are not limited to the services of a single operator. You could buy a Swiss virtual server from one data center, a British one from another, and a Russian one from the third data center. However, such an approach complicates moving from one venue to another. If you only work with one operator, migration is carried out by a single request to tech support with full retention of data and even funds on your account.
To conclude, storing data in multiple data centers is a good idea, but it is best if they belong to a single operator. Summing up what has been said, a perfect safe-keeper of your sensitive business data is a company whose facilities are relatively close to your regional offices. In addition, such an operator should have data centers in Switzerland, other countries critical to your infrastructure, and, preferably, on every continent.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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