How To Choose Between Cloud And Colocation Services
How To Choose Between Cloud And Co-location Services
It’s not about doing more with less anymore. It’s about doing even more, with even less. We hear from our customers all the time that their IT departments are under intense pressure these days to deliver more services, in faster time frames, with smaller budgets and leaner staff. Most face the challenge of data center transformation, which is changing the way they think about their business. A driving force in the transformation is the need to get out from under the burden of aging infrastructure, which is causing many companies to look at alternatives to traditional on-premises data center approaches, i.e., co-location and cloud-based infrastructure services.
But how do you know which one is best for you? The answer is, it depends on what your needs are. Co-location and cloud offer some comparable benefits, but each is best suited to satisfy different scenarios. For example, both help cut some costs through the use of shared facilities, but the choice of one versus the other should be based on your specific requirements.
With co-location, companies own, use, and maintain their own equipment, but share the cost of power, cooling, communications, and data center floor space with other tenants. Co-location is a good choice for you if you need complete control over your equipment. This might be the case if you must have that level of control to satisfy regulatory or data protection requirements based on your industry, for example.
Another common reason to use co-location is to address the limitations of an existing data center. One industry survey found that 36 percent of data center facilities will soon run out of space, power, or cooling capacity. Rather than building a new data center, therefore, you can augment your current center by using space in a co-location facility. Additionally, some of our customers use co-location to have a secondary site for disaster recovery purposes, avoiding the need to build an entire second data center.
Two points to keep in mind with co-location
First, co-location still requires you to purchase your own servers, storage, switches, and software. Second, your IT staff’s time will still be taken up by monitoring and managing the equipment and conducting backups and maintenance. However, many providers also offer managed services that can be leveraged to monitor and manage your infrastructure. Look for a provider that offers a la carte options so you can choose what functions you want a third party to manage and which you want to maintain control over.
How are cloud services different?
There are some distinct differences with a cloud-based infrastructure service. Like co-location, cloud-based infrastructure services offer cost savings through the use of a shared facility. But there the resemblance ends. With cloud services, the cloud provider supplies and manages your full hardware infrastructure, including servers, storage, and network elements. This eliminates your CAPEX costs and cuts OPEX costs, since the provider’s staff, not your IT staff, are responsible for day-to-day administration, routine maintenance, troubleshooting, and problem resolution.
Why cloud services?
You might turn to cloud services for a number of reasons. Many of our customers simply want to offload infrastructure management chores to us to free up their IT staff to work on projects that would help grow the business. Some companies select a cloud provider because they like the flexibility of being able to rapidly scale capacity up or down based on business needs.
Three points to keep in mind with cloud services
That said, there are three points to consider when selecting cloud services providers.
If your company is subject to data privacy and protection regulations such as PCI DSS, financial mandates or Health Care, you will want your cloud provider to be able to demonstrate compliance, have appropriate certifications, maintain a high level of physical and cyber security, and follow mandated procedures to pass an audit. Ultimately, the thing to remember is that the burden of compliance still lies with YOU.
A second point to consider is availability. Running a critical business application on a service that is prone to outages will not be acceptable. You will need a cloud provider that offers services with availability guarantees based on service level agreements, as well as an understanding of how the provider controls access into the environment, manages infrastructure resources, and addresses change management.
One final point to consider is how your cloud provider resolves problems. Is their staff available 24/7? What processes does your service provider follow to resolve issues and mitigate human error?
Cloud or Co-location: The Bottom Line
Co-location and cloud services offer you alternatives to traditional in-house data center approaches. Based on the specific requirements of your particular deployment, each offers unique benefits and each has its own points to consider. You will want to weigh your compliance and privacy needs, your need for direct control, as well as your need for always-on availability and up time when deciding between co-location and cloud.
Janel Ryan was the Director of Product Marketing for Cloud and Managed Services at SunGard Availability Services.