Picture this scenario: you’re the CIO of a company large enough to own its own small data center. Your phone rings. On the line is an executive from a prominent cloud company, with an odd question: Can we borrow your data center? That might seem a little far-fetched, but one analyst is arguing that companies sharing data-center resources could prove the way of the future. “My proposition is that cloud services providers should not invest in new infrastructure, but should evaluate the option of leveraging existing data center facilities that are owned by customers,” Larry Carvalho, head of advisory-services company Robust Cloud, wrote in a July 11 research note. “In an environment of cloud computing driven by software management, cloud services providers could control the usage of IT resources from multiple locations, improving the value proposition.” The reasoning behind his proposition seems fairly simple: many companies considering a jump to the cloud already have significant investments in an on-premises data center. In turn, those data centers boast infrastructure that makes them capable of high availability, including ample network bandwidth and an uninterrupted power supply. Cloud-services companies, meanwhile, need more capacity for new customers. Carvalho insists that infrastructure sharing and re-use will “encourage large data centers to embrace the cloud computing paradigm shift without letting existing IT investments go to waste.” He envisions several companies joined in a resource-sharing arrangement that includes all Infrastructure-as-a-Service components. It’s a rather utopian vision, and one with a few inherent issues. Carvalho ends his research note by alluding to the need to manage shared resources in a secure manner. However, security—especially as it relates to the cloud and data centers—is a subject deserving of a much more intensive dive-down. A recent article on SlashCloud dives into everything a company needs to consider when it comes to cloud security, including data residency, encryption, DAM (database activity monitoring), and data access (internal and external). Many organizations have also virtualized their servers and data-center infrastructure, adding still another layer of security concerns for organizations. IT administrators with a Windows Server or SQL database running in a virtual machine (VM) need to protect it from viruses and other attacks while providing the same level of access controls one has for physical servers. (A variety of protection tools, including intrusion detection and firewall features, can help secure VMs.) So while the idea of sharing data-center resources is potentially a good one, it also comes with some big concerns.   Image: Dario Lo Presti/Shutterstock.com