A business' data is still its most important asset, but that doesn't mean it every company needs to spend millions of dollars building and maintaining its own datacenters. The cloud has grown up, and the days of the company-owned-and-operated datacenters are numbered.
In the pre-PC days, computers were sprawling and temperamental beasts requiring constant care and feeding. Mainframes lived in climate-controlled, secure facilities with round-the-clock surveillance and redundant power and bandwidth connections. Over time, most mainframes were replaced by more modular, inexpensive servers, but the operational requirements remained: a cold, secure room, redundancy and 24/7 management.
During the prosperous '90s, IT managers with datacenter blueprints and wads of cash set out to build their own data fortresses. Data was a critical asset that could not be left to chance, so businesses wanted to keep it safe and close. The number of in-house datacenters exploded, and to IT managers of the 1990s or early 2000s, datacenter vendors like Avocent, Veracode, and EMC were every bit as familiar as Microsoft or Oracle.