For many businesses, setting up IT infrastructure will mean choosing between colocation vs cloud, more specifically, public cloud. If you are in this situation, then here is a brief guide to what you need to know about colocation vs cloud.
If you are looking at colocation as a direct alternative to the public cloud, here is a quick guide to how they compare.
The public cloud is now considered to be secure enough to be used at the highest levels of government. In fact, if you are planning on working with the government, then it can actually make more sense to use a cloud solution than colocation.
The main reason for this is that you can look for a public cloud service provider that is already FedRAMP certified. This is likely to be far quicker and easier (and possibly more cost-effective) than going through the FedRAMP certification on your own. Cloud solutions can also be used if you need to comply with other security standards (e.g. HIPAA or GDPR).
On the other hand, if you really want to be sure that none of your data ever leaves your own domain, then you need to use colocation. You could potentially use it as part of a hybrid cloud but you would still need your own equipment.
With colocation, you need to buy your own IT equipment. With the public cloud, you simply need to choose your virtual infrastructure.
Here, the issue of colocation vs the cloud is a lot more nuanced than it might at first appear. In the real world, most of the challenge of implementing any kind of IT infrastructure is working out the right configuration. This is the same regardless of whether you use colocation or the cloud.
Using colocation does create extra logistical issues and hence extra costs. These are, however, not huge challenges.
This is another area where the issue of colocation vs the cloud is not as clear cut as it might, at first, appear. Overall, the running costs of colocation should be lower than the running costs of the public cloud. In the real world, however, the situation is much more complicated.
When you use colocation, you create the risk of having to deal with unforeseen expenses. The most significant potential expense is likely to be staff issues. More specifically, it’s likely to be recruiting, retaining, and potentially training staff, plus covering absences.
This risk can be mitigated by using a third-party managed services provider to manage your colocation. You will, however, still need to consider the risk of equipment failures and their associated costs.
When you use the public cloud, you choose the services you want and pay for them. In principle, this is a very simple concept. In practice, understanding cloud costs can be so complicated that people literally write books about it.
This means that it can be very challenging for businesses to get the most value out of the cloud, especially if they operate on a large scale. On the other hand, this is a challenge many businesses tackle successfully and to their significant benefit.
The difference in management between colocation vs cloud largely depends on how you approach your colocation. If you choose to manage it entirely in-house then it will almost certainly have significantly higher management overheads than the cloud. If, by contrast, you choose to use a managed service provider then the management overheads will be broadly similar.
In that context, it’s worth noting that a significant percentage of IT management actually relates to managing and supporting users rather than devices. For example, it relates to access management, security training, and software deployment. These overheads are likely to remain much the same regardless of whether you use colocation or the cloud.
If you have to choose between colocation vs cloud, then you need to decide whether you want to prioritize customizability or scalability. If you want maximum customizability, then you need colocation. If you want maximum scalability, then you need the cloud. If you need a mixture of both, then you need a mixture of colocation and the cloud.
This reality is now probably the main reason why so many enterprises are now running hybrid clouds. They can create the perfect environment for their customized solutions in their private environment while still enjoying the scalability of the cloud.
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