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Colocation vs. Cloud Hosting

14th March 2016

Here at Sungard Availability Services we work with a wide range of businesses to help them achieve their business goals and gain a competitive edge over their rivals. One of the many enquiries that we receive concerns the respective advantages of colocation services and cloud hosting when it comes to data centre infrastructure. Although there are similarities between the two approaches, including cost savings as a result of using a shared facility, there are also fundamental differences. With colocation, businesses remain responsible for the purchase, configuration and maintenance of all their data centre hardware and software, whereas cloud hosting sees this technology leased to the organisation by a third-party vendor. It is not a case of one approach being better than the other, but rather deciding which approach is the best fit for your business.

The main benefits of colocation and cloud hosting

To understand whether colocation or cloud hosting is most suitable for your organisation, IT decision makers must first understand the respective benefits of each approach. Starting with colocation, the primary advantage is control over your own equipment. By retaining ownership of their own IT infrastructure, businesses have the autonomy to customise and configure their hardware and software however they see fit. There is no need to worry about whether a vendor will supply enough computing resources or bandwidth, as that is all controlled by the business. Conversely, businesses without the necessary financial or time resources may prefer to forego some of this freedom for the extra support provided by cloud hosting. By hosting your infrastructure externally, configuration, updates and ongoing management are handled by the cloud supplier, meaning that businesses can focus on their core business without worrying about what’s going on in the data centre.

Making the right choice

Another major factor that sees businesses choose colocation services is the scalability it provides compared with running their own data centre. With colocation, businesses make more efficient use of data centre resources by only paying for the space they require. If they do need to expand or scale down, it is simply a case of talking to your provider. At Sungard AS, we have five geographically separate, fully networked Colocation Data Centres across the UK, with the space to accommodate your business needs. If businesses decide to go without a colocation provider, they may need to build entire new data centres to cope with expansion, which can prove extremely costly.

Cloud hosting, on the other hand, does come with up-front cost savings that are likely to appeal to some businesses. CAPEX costs are eliminated altogether as businesses do not have to supply their own infrastructure and operating systems, meaning they are simply left to pay an ongoing subscription fee. Of course, businesses should still keep an eye on these costs and ensure that their provider is giving them good value for money. At Sungard AS, we can recommend a cloud solution that delivers the level of security, agility and reliability to suit your business.

Why not both?

Despite their differences, many businesses choose to adopt cloud hosting alongside colocation for a best of both worlds approach. For example, organisations often choose to host some of their IT infrastructure in the cloud, but use colocation for data recovery in the event of a disaster. By backing up their critical processes elsewhere, they can resume operations more rapidly – essentially it lets them avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. Data regulations may also prevent certain types of data from being stored with a third-party, particularly sensitive information. In this situation, organisation may outsource certain applications, like email for example, but store customer data with a colocation provider, to ensure regulatory compliance. If businesses do opt for both approaches, however, they must ensure that they have the IT manpower to oversee both and any possible integration issues that may emerge.

The choice is yours

Only IT decision makers can say with certainty if colocation, cloud hosting, or a mix of the two, is the best fit for their company. It is worth weighing up the perceived freedom offered by colocation against the extra support provided by third-party cloud suppliers. In both cases, however, businesses will experience cost savings compared with operating their own data centre, as well as flexibility, scalability and reliability advantages.

At Sungard AS we can provide organisations with either colocation or cloud hosting services customised to suit their business needs. We have years of experience delivering IT infrastructure, so why not discover how our IT solutions can take your business to the next level?