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89% of UK tech operations to be hosted off-premise

Plans for hybrid working and future tech investment are calling into question the need for businesses to maintain or rely on their on-premise data centres, according to new research from Zen Internet.

Surveying 200 business leaders across the UK, Zen found that post-Covid, on average, only 11% of planned tech operations will be hosted on-premise. In fact, off premise tools including SD-WAN (26%), artificial intelligence (25%) automation (24%) and application programming interface (24%) are the top tech investments set to be made in the next 12 months.

Stop, collaborate and listen

The majority (93%) of businesses already have a hybrid working plan in place to enable employees to work remotely, with a further 5% set to have one in the next year. As a result, only 55% of office space and desks are expected to be in use over the next year, with workers set to spend three days there a week in 2022.

In addition, currently on-premise data centres are found to take up on average of 8% of office floor space. This comes as 51% of UK businesses’ technological infrastructure is reliant on on-premise.

When determining what companies who have a data centre are doing with their office space in the post covid era, increased collaboration seems to be the name of the game. These businesses are looking to add collaborative meeting areas (39%), social spaces (36%) and individual working spaces (33%) to aid hybrid working. Meeting rooms (32%), adding additional equipment (32%) and leaving it as open space (28%) would also be amongst the plans if they did not have an on-premise data centre, according to business leaders.

Commenting on these findings, Becky Turner, Workplace Psychologist at office interior design fit-out, furniture and technology company Claremont, said: “As we’re propelled into the Hybrid Era, the purpose of the office is rapidly evolving, becoming a place where the primary goals are for colleagues to meet, collaborate, socialise, and learn – becoming The Destination Office.

“Whilst focused tasks can largely be carried out from home, the Destination Office maximises the office space for those necessary functions that have been noticeably absent from our working lives over the past 18 months; the Coffee Shop provides a social heart to your space, enabling you to build relationships with your colleagues over a coffee or lunch; the Department Store is your support centre, where you can find helpful resources to work effectively from any given location; the Co-working Bureau enables teams to come together to work from a central location, providing mentoring, meeting and collaboration opportunities; and the Forum is a flexible space to facilitate larger-scale collaboration sessions or town hall meetings.

“With the introduction of each of these spaces, your workspace will become the cultural epicentre of your organisation, a place where your colleagues can come to feel energised and connected with the principles and values of your organisation.”

A perceived complicated process

Business leaders admit that the biggest challenges with on-premise data centres are security concerns (51%) and maintenance costs (51%), followed by a lack of in-house IT skills to maintain them (38%) and the amount of physical space they occupy (34%). When asked about the advantages of outsourcing their data centre to a third party, improving security (52%) again emerges top, with increased reliability (44%) and a reduction in costs (38%) being other key drivers.

With a decreasing reliance on on-premise infrastructure, the focus turns to why businesses are still keeping it. However, the research revealed the majority of business leaders believe re-locating or removing the data centre would be expensive (77%) and time consuming (82%).

In fact, 74% agree the process would be complicated, with a further 62% revealing their organisation is not fully educated in the complexities of cloud technologies. As a result, 75% believe they would need help to move their on-premise data centre off-premise.

Paul Stobart, CEO at Zen Internet said: “The emergence of the hybrid era means that dependence on on-premise infrastructure to support a full capacity office is no longer required. Moving infrastructure to the cloud through the deployment of software-defined WAN (or SDWAN) technology, together with proactive use of intelligent cloud and collaboration tools is not only more efficient, but serves to declutter the working environment and allows space to be re-utilised more creatively.

“For some, considering a move to the cloud may seem to be an undertaking fraught with risk. The truth is, though, that more and more businesses are making this move. The key is to select the right partner, with skills in cloud-based technologies as well as in project management, to ensure a successful migration.”

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