Here at HOSTING, our cloud solution architects field dozens of phone calls from IT departments that are being pressured to deliver more services in less time. With lean teams and limited resources, they are challenged to find ways to move out of their aging infrastructures and consider alternatives such as colocation and cloud services. However, IT leaders are often uncertain as to which option best fits their needs. While they offer similar benefits, the choice of colocation versus cloud services should be based an organization’s specific technology and business requirements. HOSTING offers the pros and cons of each.
What is colocation?
With colocation, organizations own, use and maintain their own equipment. However, they rent space in a colocation facility, sharing the cost of power, cooling, communications and data center floor space with other companies. Colocation is a good option for organizations that want to maintain complete control over their equipment. Companies that must adhere to specific data protection or compliance requirements (i.e., HIPAA and PCI) opt for a colocation environment.
Colocation is also a viable option for organizations that need to expand the capabilities of their existing data center. Rather than build a new data center which can cost thousands of dollars per square foot, organizations can augment their current data center with a colocation environment.
Finally, some organizations leverage a colocation site as a failover site for disaster recovery, avoiding the time and expense of building a separate data center.
There are two things to keep in mind with colocation:
- Colocation requires organizations to purchase their own equipment, including servers, storage, switches and software. Upgrades and enhancements are also the customer’s responsibility.
- Organizations’ IT teams still have to monitor, maintain and manage the equipment and conduct backups.
Check out our blog post, 8 Criteria for Selecting a Colocation Provider, for more insights.
How are cloud services different?
Cloud services are similar to colocation in that organizations realize cost savings through the use of a shared facility. However, with cloud services, the cloud service provider (CSP)supplies and manages the customer’s full hardware infrastructure, including servers, storage and network elements. The CSP’s staff, is also responsible for day-to-day administration of their customers’ cloud environments, including routine maintenance, troubleshooting and issue resolution. Companies that opt for cloud services often eliminate their capital expenses (CapEx) and reduce their operational expenses (OpEx).
Why consider cloud services?
One of the key benefits of cloud services is the ability to “outsource” infrastructure management responsibilities to a CSP, freeing up valuable time for their internal IT teams to focus on more strategic, revenue-generating activities.
Another benefit of cloud services is the flexibility to rapidly scale capacity up or down based on an business needs. Finally, many CSPs offer a “pay-as-you-go” model, ensuring that customers pay for only the resources they use.
3 Criteria for Cloud Service Providers
As we’ve mentioned before, there are literally thousands of companies that bill themselves as cloud service providers. So it’s imperative that organizations in the market for a CSP vet potential providers carefully (download our complimentary white paper, 10 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Cloud Service Provider to get started.) While by no means exhaustive, following are three criteria to consider when selecting a CSP.
- Organizations that are subject to compliance regulations such as HIPAA or PCI DSS should look for CSPs that can demonstrate compliance, possess the appropriate certifications, maintain threat-proof physical and cyber security standards and follow mandated procedures to pass a compliance audit. While the customer is still responsible for its compliance status, HOSTING is one of the very few CSPs that offers 100% Audit Assurance.
- Availability is essential. At HOSTING, we call it our customers’ “oxygen.” Organizations need to engage with a CSP that offers services with guaranteed availability based on service level agreements (SLAs) that include financial penalties for outages.
- Companies also need to have a thorough understanding of the types and amount of support they will receive from their CSP. Is there a live, experienced support team available 24 x 7 x 365? Can customers submit support requests from a customer portal?
While colocation and cloud services each offer a host of benefits, it’s important for companies to understand their current state and future goals before committing to either option. HOSTING helps companies determine their requirements and create a solution that works best for them. Contact us anytime to discuss your specific needs.