Success in the digital era is all about having the right IT infrastructure in the right places to unlock the full power of your applications and data. Many people assume this means the public cloud. While there are certainly benefits to using public cloud services in some situations, there can also be drawbacks, such as high costs and the potential for vendor lock-in. Fully relying on or returning to classic on-premises infrastructure is not a reasonable alternative, as it can limit flexibility, incur high up-front CAPEX and create sustainability issues.
To get the best possible balance of performance, flexibility, reliability, security and cost-efficiency, there needs to be a happy medium between a cloud first approach and a traditional on-premises approach. This is where hybrid infrastructure can help. Deploying a hybrid infrastructure means using public cloud services when it makes sense to do so, but also supporting those services with other infrastructure options, including on-premises hardware, colocation and private cloud.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for hybrid infrastructure. All businesses have different needs, which means the ideal hybrid infrastructure for your business is going to look very different from that of any other business.
A hybrid infrastructure can help businesses regardless of their size, industry vertical or location. However, businesses in Europe face certain challenges that businesses in other parts of the world don’t. As such, they may be especially well-suited to benefit from deploying hybrid infrastructure.
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What are the unique challenges facing digital businesses in Europe?
As a European business leader myself, I’m well acquainted with the unique opportunities that exist here, but I also know it can be a complex place to do business. At Equinix, we aim to mitigate that complexity for our customers in Europe. Helping them deploy an optimized hybrid infrastructure is a big part of how we do that.
Here’s a quick overview of the different challenges businesses face in Europe, and how deploying a hybrid infrastructure can help overcome them:
- Ensure compliance with data privacy and sovereignty regulations
- Deploy at the digital edge to keep latency low
- Keep data protected across its entire lifecycle
- Maximize cost-efficiency
Ensure compliance with data privacy and sovereignty regulations
Europe has long been the global leader in setting strict data privacy and sovereignty regulations, with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) being the most high-profile example. These regulations provide important protections for European citizens, but they also create an additional layer of complexity for businesses looking to serve those citizens.
Finding out exactly what’s required of your business can be complicated enough, but then you also need to ensure you meet those requirements. When you offload all your digital infrastructure to U.S.-based public cloud providers, you’re effectively shifting the burden of compliance onto those providers. How can you feel confident they’ll take the requirements as seriously as you would?
Hybrid infrastructure offers a better way. You’ll still be able to take advantage of cloud services when appropriate, but you’ll also maintain greater control over where your data is stored. Keeping sensitive data sets in cloud adjacent storage allows you to ensure that the correct data privacy measures are in place. Also, if your company is subject to data sovereignty requirements in certain European jurisdictions, you’ll be able to establish the physical storage footprint you need to keep protected data within the correct borders.
Deploy at the digital edge to keep latency low
With Europe being such a densely interconnected continent, it can be easy to lose track of just how vast it really is. If your operations span the entire continent, physical distance is likely to become a performance issue for you—especially if your infrastructure relies exclusively on public cloud services. This is because you’re going to have end users and applications located far away from cloud data centers. Having to move data back and forth over those long distances will inevitably contribute to latency. This latency may degrade the user experience to the point where the benefits of cloud hardly seem worth the trouble.
With a distributed hybrid infrastructure, you can get the flexibility needed to deploy different workloads in different locations, based on different requirements. For instance, you can move any latency-sensitive workloads you have from the cloud to various digital edge locations. Keeping workloads closer to end users will reduce the distance data has to travel to reach them, which in turn keeps latency low. At the same time, you can still take advantage of the full power of cloud services for other workloads where latency is less of an issue.
Keep data protected across its entire lifecycle
All businesses that handle sensitive data on behalf of customers understand why it’s so important to avoid falling victim to a high-profile data breach. In addition to the financial costs involved, there’s also the reputational damage, which will reverberate long after the event itself. The regulatory landscape in Europe may further complicate the issue: The European cybersecurity certification framework laid out in the EU Cybersecurity Act is currently voluntary, but the Act allows for the possibility that it may become mandatory as a result of future EU legislation.
With cybersecurity being such a high priority for companies doing business in Europe, it’s best not to put all the responsibility on the cloud providers. A hybrid infrastructure can help make sure you’re putting the right safeguards in place across the data lifecycle. This could include keeping sensitive data in cloud adjacent locations with purpose-built cybersecurity capabilities. Also, you can use direct, private interconnection services to move traffic between different locations within Europe or back and forth to the cloud, rather than exposing it to the public internet. Working with the right infrastructure partners, you can even encrypt data in motion globally without having to sacrifice performance.
There was once a time when most European business leaders assumed that the public cloud was the most cost-efficient option, as it allowed them to make the shift away from high up-front CAPEX for their IT infrastructure needs. Now, many of those same leaders have learned that the cloud isn’t always as cost-effective as it once seemed. For one thing, data egress fees that once appeared reasonable have started to add up as data volumes continue to grow. In addition, businesses in Europe may face higher cloud costs due to data sovereignty requirements that force them to purchase additional capacity in specific markets.
Businesses can offset the impact of data egress fees by building a cloud adjacent infrastructure. This means they don’t have to leave their data stored in the cloud, but they’ll still be able to use low-latency cloud on-ramps any time they need to take advantage of cloud services. In short, they’ll be able to pick the most cost-effective option for each workload, whether it’s the public cloud or not.
Learn how to build the hybrid infrastructure you need
In order to build the ideal hybrid infrastructure for your business, you’ll need to thoroughly assess all the different workloads you need to support, and think about what requirements you need to meet around compliance, latency, security, cost-efficiency and more. Only then can you make an educated decision about how to create the infrastructure that best balances all those competing requirements.
To get started, read the Equinix hybrid infrastructure ebook. You’ll get advice to help you navigate the many different infrastructure options available to you, and put them all together as part of an optimized hybrid strategy.