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Colocation vs. Cloud computing? It’s not one or the other

Cloud Computing

The benefits of utilizing cloud infrastructure can be significant for organizations. Enhanced flexibility and cost efficiency, as well as guaranteed usage of the latest technologies. These are some of the benefits when considering cloud adoption. Instant scaling up and down can be another advantage of the cloud. A colocation on the other hand provides ultimate control over your IT assets and data while meeting accurately defined levels of compliance and security. So, what to choose? Good to know, you don’t have to.

Colocation versus cloud seems an obvious battle. The trusted technology takes on the disruptor. Colocation must be clearly inferior and must be overthrown for a newer and more flashy technology. The truth is that both colocation and cloud are essential parts for the deployment of efficient, hybrid cloud based IT infrastructures. It’s also one of the reasons why colocation in for example Germany is booming now, with colocation services increasing significantly in the country. Even in the midst of all stories about companies adopting public cloud for their IT infrastructures.

Some organizations go all-in on public cloud, they do. Recent examples include BP, who went all-in on AWS for its 900 key applications from European mega data centers. UK newspaper The Telegraph has gone all-in on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) last year. And this summer, global analytics software company SAS did decide to go all-in on Azure. Many organizations will adopt a multi cloud or hybrid cloud strategy though and use a mix of cloud and colocation options to achieve the best of both worlds and maximize IT infrastructure efficiencies.

Business-critical and legacy applications

Going all-in on public cloud can create dilemmas for an organization. Business-critical applications, for example, can these also be moved to the cloud? And what about specific legacy applications which are still most relevant to the business. How to deal with that? In addition, as an organization, you might want to remain in full control of the availability and compliance of the data. Probably at least all business-critical data.

Hyperscalers like AWS, Google and Azure can of course offer proper security measures such as firewalls and real-time monitoring to protect the IT infrastructure and inhibit access to it. The security levels offered are not always a good fit however for every situation and application, and all types of organizations. Some organizations for example face strict legislative requirements for local data storage and data processing, for all of their infrastructure or parts of it. There are plenty of situations imaginable in which a full switch to public cloud is not desirable or might even be impossible. Sometimes full transparency and visibility is required at system, application as well as data level. With colocation, you exactly know where your systems, applications and data are located.

Hybrid cloud: a blend of colocation, public and private cloud computing

A locally deployed private cloud in a colocation data center of choice in a specific country can be used as an alternative to public cloud, to meet strict compliance requirements while still benefiting from cloud characteristics. Such a hybrid cloud environment would help meet data sovereignty provisions, allowing organizations to even point at a cabinet and storage array when attempts are made to comply with the strictest data audits.

Of course, it might be tempting to approach a choice between colocation and cloud as an either-or decision. Cloud sure sounds a bit trendier than colocation, but colocation has a clear role within efficient and flexible deployment of IT infrastructures. It’s a false dichotomy so to say.

Each organization will have to make an individual decision with regard to colocation versus cloud, but when it comes to maximizing efficiencies the choice between cloud and colocation should probably be made on a per application basis. A financial services organization for example might want to leverage public cloud to achieve cost efficiencies for their batch processing, while using colocation or a private cloud deployed in a colocation data center for its mission-critical databases and other applications.

The result for many organizations will be an integrated hybrid cloud setup with a blend of colocation, public cloud and/or private cloud of which the exact details of mixed infrastructure will change over time. So, it can also be a matter of colocation for now but cloud in the future, or vice versa.

Carrier-neutral connectivity hub

Connectivity is a key ingredient of every IT infrastructure. Hyperconnected cloud neutral and carrier neutral colocation data centers like the ones operated by maincubes in Frankfurt and Amsterdam can very well serve as interconnectivity hubs for such blended IT infrastructure configurations. With direct cloud connects available to all popular public cloud providers as well as various Internet exchanges and also other data centers, the maincubes colocation data centers as such can act as interconnectivity hubs for hybrid cloud and blended IT infrastructures.

That said, next to the security and compliance benefits of colocation data centers, the various connectivity options you get in a carrier neutral facility also add to the central and neutral role they play in hybrid cloud deployments.

With a carrier-neutral colocation data center, an organization can setup its network entirely according to its own wishes and requirements. It is also possible to switch network providers easily and quickly if it’s required by evolving situations. A setup offering choice between multiple carriers also ensures redundancy and flexibility for hybrid cloud environments.

Going all-in on one specific public cloud may be the result of unique considerations. A choice between CAPEX versus OPEX investments may be one of them. Flexibility might also be an argument to go all-in on public cloud, although true flexibility will probably only be achieved when deploying a hybrid cloud environment made up of a blend of colocation and cloud infrastructure. It is also widely known that going all-in on public cloud many times does not lead to the highest cost efficiencies. Of course, deploying a hybrid cloud solution within a colocation environment does require some upfront investments. Next to that, you also need to have the personnel to setup and maintain the hybrid cloud infrastructure. On the other hand, with maincubes and many other colocation data centers available across Europe you can fall back on engineering professionals you don’t have to hire yourselves. They can provide you with remote hands engineering services making your colocation and hybrid cloud journey a smooth ride.

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