By Max Clarke

Lockheed Martin, the American aerospace company, has become the latest high-profile business to have come under a cyber-attack.

Amazon and Sony are among others that have fallen victim to cyber crimes in the past few weeks. Recent attacks have put the issue of data security firmly into the spotlight, with more and more companies opting for the high levels of security and backup offered by cloud-based data storage.

Gartner predicts that by 2012, 20% of all companies will no longer own their own IT assets; further indicating that by 2015, information-smart businesses will increase IT spending per head by 60%, with tools and automation eliminating 25% of IT-related expenses. Many experts predict that 2011 will be the year when cloud computing will begin to see widespread adoption across the mainstream business landscape. Jones Lang LaSalle’s recent Data Centre Barometer survey among European stakeholders found an increase in outsourced solutions from 50% 18 months ago to 75% this year.

The biggest driver for companies to outsource their data is the fact that they can make considerable savings and ease cash flow by replacing six-figure CAPEX investment costs - which they would otherwise have to pay if they bought their own servers - with OPEX payments for rented equipment. This allows them to conserve cash and create more efficiency without having to worry about spiralling maintenance costs and rapidly changing technology requirements which companies do not want to be saddled with.

Node4 is becoming a dominant force in Britain’s data centre market. With plans already underway to build its fifth data centre, the business is transforming the way that companies manage data across all sectors. Andrew Gilbert, Managing Director of Node4, believes that interests of companies are best served through access to a number of regional data centres, as the average customer will choose a data centre within a 30 kilometre radius of their base. The execution of Andrew’s strategy as the UK’s largest ‘data centres on the door step’ supplier, has secured him the crown of Britain’s largest independent provider of data centres. His strategic selection of sites situated close to the UK’s large conurbations such as Northampton, Derby and Wakefield has enabled Node4 to become a powerful draw for businesses wanting proximity to be a key priority as they look to outsource t heir data.
“Customers still want to touch and see their data centres, it provides them with a greater level of assurance, when their primary and often mission critical assets are in an environment they understand and control, as opposed to being far away, perhaps in a different legal jurisdiction and even time zone,” said Andrew.

Despite concerns about the safety and security of cloud computing highlighted by the recent IT challenges of megabrands Amazon and Sony, experts still predict its adoption will continue to grow. According to Forrester, the global cloud computing market will grow from £24.98 billion in 2011 to more than £147.95 billion in 2020, while the market for virtual private cloud solutions will grow almost eightfold to £40.76 billion in 2020. Private Cloud is a form of cloud computing where service access is limited or where customers are granted the ability to execute some control or ownership of the service implementation.
Andrew’s decision to invest in multiple sites across the UK is contrary to that of many of Node4’s competitors which have tended to invest in fewer, larger sites. It stems from his mission to build a robust infrastructure across geographies in order to minimize the risks associated with outages as he believes that part of countering the problems associated with outages is to outsource multiple cloud providers, by which means companies may be able to switch suppliers or spread the risk.

Andrew is one of the UK’s strongest advocates of the Private Cloud. Complementing Forrester’s prediction that the market for private cloud solutions will grow from £4.79 billion in 2011 to £9.76 billion in 2020,

Andrew said:
“The private cloud has addressed many of the concerns over security associated with cloud in the past. This has caused many enterprises to reconsider their choice not to convert from costly, on premise IT infrastructures. As a result of developments in the cloud we expect there to be a positive impact on the data centre industry.”