Yankees or Red Sox, Linux or Windows, Star Wars or Star Trek: There’s no shortage of choices life asks us to make. When it comes to cloud versus colocation, it may be tempting to see it as just another either-or decision. But the question you should be asking isn’t “colo or cloud”—it’s “what’s the right mix for my applications?”
Colo is sometimes forgotten because of its more popular, younger and shinier cousin the cloud, but there are use cases for both, and your particular mix will depend on your applications. For example, a financial services company that wants to leverage cloud to gain cost efficiency might use a public cloud for its end-of-day or end-of-month batch processing, while also using colocation or hosted private cloud for its mission-critical databases and supporting applications. This configuration would provide the cost efficiency of public cloud for short-term workloads while also utilizing a dedicated, secure platform optimized for applications that are always on.
Regardless of your situation, developing a comprehensive cloud strategy will help you avoid lock-in, providing flexibility, adaptability and room to grow as your needs evolve. And that multi-cloud strategy just might include some smart usage of colocation if, for example, you have a need for specific hardware or want a network presence in certain locations. Here’s a primer for understanding the big pieces of cloud, colo and anything in between.
For any organization facing the decision to “build” or “buy” their infrastructure, “buying”—whether bringing your hardware and renting space in a colocation facility or shifting entirely to the cloud—is a simple step that is guaranteed to level up your IT. Yet the conversation about colo and cloud is usually focused on dollars spent and saved. This is understandable, especially since on-premise data centers are often expensive to secure and maintain, and going off-premise can have a clear impact on cost savings. But what could the conversation be if CAPEX or OPEX weren’t the primary drivers of your IT infrastructure decisions?
Now don’t get me wrong—I know keeping costs reasonable is important—but I also think it might be helpful to think about your choice in terms of a different resource: time. The math is simple: If you can offload certain tasks to a service provider, that’s time you get back. Every minute not spent handling maintenance and administration is a minute you now have free to focus on your actual applications. With that being said, here are the ways colo and cloud can make your life better.
With a colo or cloud service provider, all the work of physical data center security and maintenance is no longer part of your to-do list—and a lot of compliance too, depending on your provider. With a managed service provider, they can take care of your routine data security and compliance tasks or even help you architect your infrastructure to fit the specific compliance needs of your applications.
A big part of the decision to move off-premise may be a simple need for connectivity. Your on-premise solution might lack certain connectivity altogether or you may have trouble with reliability or latency. Colocation can solve these issues, whether you need to connect to certain geographies, carriers or third-party clouds like AWS or Azure. Managed services from your provider can give you an edge here too, ensuring dependable connectivity and minimizing latency even in spread-out networks.
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A huge upside to partnering with a comprehensive service provider is that regardless of your infrastructure solution, backup and DR services can be easily implemented. Whether using a colocation facility or a hosted private cloud, both are effective, efficient ways to build redundancy into your systems—without having to build and operate your own second site.
When choosing the right mix, it’s a good idea to start by asking a few questions:
Choosing the right provider can determine whether you have the flexibility and freedom to meet your future needs. They can be an invaluable partner in helping you to rightsize for today without limiting your options for the future. So pick one with a wide range of infrastructure solutions and managed services and one that is skilled, knowledgeable and experienced in multiple competencies, whether colo or cloud. At INAP, my team of solutions engineers help customers navigate the process, identify hard-to-spot downsides and share knowledge based on our experience assisting other customers.
Applications that aren’t a good fit for a legacy infrastructure model can be easily migrated with the help of a service provider like INAP, while maintaining a single partner that knows you and your business. The right solution will depend on your applications, and that will inevitably evolve over time. Rather than pitting colo against cloud, start from what your applications require, then find the right mix that makes sense for you.