Data centres are far more than many perceive. What may first seem like just a vast stockroom of servers and wires serves the crucial role of keeping us all connected in a modern, fast-paced world.
If you live in the UK, every time you check an email, post on social media or click ‘add to basket’ during your online shopping, there is a very good chance that a UK colocation data centre is involved. But it isn’t just personal internet use that data centres provide the infrastructure for. Banks processing payments, the government making online announcements and educators teaching online classes – whatever is being done with the use of an internet connection in the UK, most likely one of the UK data centres is being utilised.
COVID-19 has thrown a curveball towards every sector this year, with an unpredicted shift in customer needs and wants, teamed with the new rules, regulations and restrictions that have been brought in to keep everyone safe; this means that virtual alternatives to ‘in-person’ activities have never been more popular.
Offices have been continuing meetings in a virtual environment, schools are hosting online classes and customer-facing staff are continuing their services with the use of an internet connection and some fast adaptations.
The Change In Users During COVID-19
Retailers and customers have been significantly restricted with how they once communicated with each other, depending on location and business nature, some have not been able to welcome customers into the premises for many months. This has led to a massive increase in retailers moving to e-commerce stores or refining and expanding current ones.
Service providers are making the most of colocation centres by easing the pressure on their previously maximised internal servers, so that capacity is never too high and customers can still access the services they need and advice they may be seeking, without the worry of technical issues and crashes.
With even more customers converting to online services and many of them stating they will continue to use these services, even after the pandemic is over, even the most reluctant providers will be preparing to make changes to what they offer and how they offer it.
Using external colocation servers is one of the best ways businesses can help their applications and websites to cope with the sudden increase in demand for virtual services that looks like it is here to stay for quite some time.
It’s Not Just Online
While the telephone and the internet tend to be two separate entities for personal users, for businesses the two are often intertwined. Call centres and customer service help desks have had to swiftly change their way of working to allow large numbers of remote workers to do their jobs. However, it isn’t viable, cost-effective or even possible for every one of these centres to pay for, dispatch and have proper installation of phone lines in employees’ homes. By utilising smartphone VoIP applications, customer service reps are able to make and receive phone calls on the business line from home with ease. This means customers still get the service they expect while staff remain safe.
Latency is reduced with the use of local data centres and spikes in callers can be easily directed to the correct department without any issues.
Moving online isn’t always smooth, and with increasing numbers of users entering the digital world, security risks are heightened.
On-premises servers pose the risk of not being properly maintained while being left alone in empty offices and the danger of those without permission entering the site needs to be taken into consideration.
UK data centres have been able to continue to operate, even during the height of lockdown, as they do not require large numbers of staff within small areas. This means the risk of data being lost, stolen or compromised in any way if significantly reduced, if not eliminated.
This way not only are customers provided with the best services, but there is no risk for data breaching or GDPR related issues. Cyber-attacks can happen but are blocked with the installation of intelligent, first-rate firewalls to clean up traffic at the correct point of entry.
Future government plans are unknown and the spread of the virus can seem even more unpredictable. Governments around the world may already have plans ready to implement depending on case numbers and fatalities but this is not expected to be revealed to the public any time soon.
This means businesses need to prepare for every eventuality. The estimate for a vaccine is 18 months, but there is never a guarantee that comes with any timeline related to such things. It is common at the moment for organisations to be making COVID-19 related plans up until spring of 2021 and some are planning even further.
With organisations making the switch to external servers and using colocation facilities sooner rather than later, they can prepare themselves for any eventuality, whether this be more national lockdowns and a higher demand for socially distant services or a change in users after the pandemic who wish to continue with an online service.