two arrows pointing to colocation vs cloud

Colocation vs. cloud seems like an obvious battle — the trusted technology pitted against the. disruptor. Clearly colocation must be inferior, in need of being overthrown for a newer and flashier technology.  

It’s a good story, but it’s not good for business. 

The truth is that colocation and cloud are both vital parts of our infrastructure. As Big Data, AI, IoT and our ever-increasing tech needs grow, both colocation and cloud will grow along with them. For you, the question shouldn’t be colocation vs. public cloud. It should be: What’s best for my business? It’s generally an application-by-application decision. 

How colocation vs. cloud became the debate 

To some extent, colocation vs. cloud is a valid question. For each dataset or application you do have to decide between colocation vs. cloud computing. Because of that, people started to think of the two in a zero-sum way. You could have colocation or cloud, but never both. 

Once you move beyond the individual decision though, it’s clear this is a false dichotomy. Any one business may make the individual decision of colo vs. cloud hundreds or thousands of times, or more. The Cloud, SaaS, IaaS or colocation choice needs to be made on an application by application basis. The result is infrastructure that’s an integrated blend of all options: private cloud, public cloud, managed colocation, whatever best serves each application and the business as a whole.  

Not only do these hybrid colocation and cloud environments work, they also give our clients flexibility. If the needs around a dataset or application change, they can easily move from cloud to colo or colo to cloud — we even allow our clients to do this within their existing colo service.. So not only is it not a question of colocation vs cloud hosting but colocation and cloud hosting, it can also be a matter of colocation for now, but cloud in the future.  

Understanding the difference between colocation and cloud — and the differences within them 

Even when we’re talking about colocation vs. cloud services, we’re talking about so much more — dedicated hosting vs colocation vs. private cloud vs. on premise vs. public cloud and so on. Before we go deeper into how colocation and cloud are growing together, we need to understand what the differences between them really are. 

What is colocation? 

The definition of colocation is hinted at right in the name: A data center where you can co-locate your data and apps alongside those of other companies. It’s a step between managing your own server on-premise and moving to the cloud. And you get the insight of a team of people who think about infrastructure all day, every day. 

A colocation provider like SCTG will help you find efficiencies in the way your infrastructure is architected, and keep your business running 24x7x365. We’ll also keep your infrastructure secure in a way that the cloud just can’t. For companies that have high regulations or proprietary information that needs protecting, colocation is a necessity. The same goes for companies with applications that just don’t make sense for the cloud — think legacy applications or non-virtualized environments.  

Many legacy applications would either have to be rewritten for the cloud, which isn’t usually an option, or would actually cost more to run the cloud. For example, static applications can cost 20-37% more to run on hyperscale cloud platforms. 

What is cloud? 

Cloud moves your information fully from physical servers and into virtual machines. There are myriad reasons why you might move to the cloud. In the cloud, your data and applications are accessible anywhere. You can scale more easily and more cost-effectively if you all of the sudden need more resources. The list goes on.  

When we talk about cloud though, we’re not just talking about one thing. There are public clouds, like AWS, where everyone’s data lives together in one environment. There are also private clouds, which allow you to keep all of your information cordoned off into your own cloud. More expensive, but more secure as well. Then there are hybrid clouds, which allow you to move freely between the two options.  

Then there are the many companies who need both colocation and cloud — a true hybrid infrastructure environment. 

How cloud and colocation are guiding each other to massive growth 

The cloud has opened up a world of new opportunities — and caused companies around the world to take a sober look at their infrastructure. When they do, they may find that cloud isn’t the best option for them now, or at least not for everything they need. They’ll also probably realize that neither is continuing to host their own data and applications, running in on evenings and weekends to reset servers or deal with environmental issues like cooling or flooding. 

This is where colocation can help. With an established colocation provider like SCTG, the infrastructure your business depends on shifts from the part-time thought of a few folks in the IT department to the full-time responsibility of a team of trained professionals. Compared to managing it on your own, colocation rack space pricing can be incredibly attractive, especially if you’re looking to shift from the big-time capital expenses of building a data center to the much smaller operational expenses colocation providers can offer.  

That cost of colocation also includes a rebate on your time. Colocation customers can focus their IT teams on innovation and growth, not server maintenance. Not only does it free up man-hours and money, it creates an opportunity for new ideas that could transform the business. 

The popularity of cloud has caused many companies to realize these benefits — but they’re not the only ones driving colocation growth. There’s also colocation hosting needed for the cloud. The cloud still runs on regular old servers after all. As it grows, every cloud provider is scrambling to find colocation hosting providers that can keep up with the demand — and keep up with the need for 100 percent uptime. That’s why data centers are filling up before they’re even built, and why the best colocation hosting companies are seeing huge demand.  

Setting aside cloud vs. colocation to find the best infrastructure solution for your business 

When you’re able to move past the public chatter of cloud computing vs. colocation, you can ask the questions that really matter to your business. As you look at each individual dataset or application, determine what kind of environment it really needs — how often it will be accessed, how critical is its uptime SLA and a litany of additional questions we detail here

When you answer these questions, you’ll start to notice patterns. Maybe security concerns will drive you to keep everything in colocation. Maybe accessibility needs will push everything onto the public cloud. More likely than not, though, you’ll start to notice groupings — a clutch of private cloud datasets here, a few public cloud applications there and a few business-critical pieces you need to keep out of the cloud altogether. It may not be as simple as the binary of cloud hosting vs. colocation, but it is so much better for your business. 

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