Cloud vs. Colocation – A Complete Guide

cloud services vs colocation
February 1, 2024

When it comes to computing resources, cloud services, and colocation services are two terms that are often thrown around interchangeably in the digital landscape. However, cloud and colocation are by no means the same thing. Many businesses on the cusp of exponential growth need complete control over their sensitive data, and their business needs may exceed solutions like what a public cloud provider can offer. 

Therefore, when investigating managed services options, you’ll find a range of colocation services, cloud services, and even hybrid opportunities that can be tailored to your IT infrastructure requirements.

As such, the first step to determining the optimal computing services and infrastructure resources you’ll need is to start by having a foundational knowledge of cloud vs. colocation and how both correlate with your basic infrastructure. 

Table of Contents

Different Types of Cloud Services
Understanding Colocation
Colocation vs Cloud – Similarities Between Colocation and Cloud
Colocation vs Cloud – Differences Between Colocation and Cloud
Learn More About Cloud vs Colocation – DartPoints Can Assist!

Understanding Cloud Computing   

In its simplest form, cloud computing involves delivering managed services over the internet, also known as the cloud. This includes servers, data storage, databases, networking software, and analytics offering flexible resources and maintaining IT infrastructure.  

cloud computing

A Quick History of Cloud Computing 

While cloud computing or cloud services may seem more recent and trendy terms, cloud computing is not a new addition to the digital world. The notion of network-based computing can be traced to the 1960s, but many credit the rise in cloud computing to 2006. That’s when large companies such as Google and Amazon began using cloud technology and started adding cloud computing to the international lexicon.  

Many experts argue that cloud computing emerged as a simple marketing term in the following years. Consequently, numerous businesses began to adopt cloud service providers, which were easily accessible through a straightforward internet connection.  

As cloud technology grew, so did many options for businesses to maintain or grow their IT infrastructure with their workloads hosted by the cloud. Cost-effective and adaptable, cloud storage and cloud hosting services grew in popularity, curtailing many businesses’ need to have their hardware, servers, equipment, and data center space for their IT infrastructure. 

Different Types of Cloud Services 

As mentioned, not all cloud services are created equal, and the type of managed services a business may require depends on a range of factors, such as internet connectivity or the need to protect sensitive data. 

Therefore, cloud providers tend to fall into the following categories when it comes to cloud computing. 

Public Cloud Services 

The public cloud refers to cloud computing services available via third-party providers over the public internet. Popular public cloud providers include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud (formerly Google Cloud Platform), IBM Cloud (formerly SoftLayer), or Rackspace, and the familiarity and scale of these big-name public cloud service providers conveys an inherent sense of reliability and security.  

Benefits of Public Clouds and Public Cloud Providers

Public cloud providers can save companies the expense of purchasing, managing, and maintaining on-premises IT infrastructure at their own data centers. Therefore, the cost savings make public cloud providers an attractive option for businesses to move away from non-cloud infrastructure.  

Instead of renting space or owning a data center, public cloud providers conduct all the storage, management, and maintenance required for the overall system. As such, every employee or stakeholder in an office or organization can access the public cloud. Additionally, they can use the same applications from anywhere in the world, provided they have an internet connection. 

Drawbacks of Public Clouds and Public Cloud Providers

One of the main drawbacks of public cloud services is simply the inability to have full control over your data storage. Since the public cloud provider manages all the operations behind-the-scenes at their data center, businesses cannot customize their data storage setup. They must rely on the public cloud service providers to do all the heavy lifting. 

Because of this, public clouds are inherently less secure and are at a higher risk of fraud, phishing attacks, and other data breaches across the board. Data security and privacy are not always guaranteed and are generally out of a business owner’s hands. As such, public clouds may not be the best option for businesses that deal with a high amount of sensitive data and depend on reliable security to conduct day-to-day operations.  

cloud services, cloud computing technology

Private Clouds 

A private cloud is a cloud computing environment or option created and dedicated to a single organization.  

Also known as an internal cloud or a corporate cloud, all hardware and software on a private cloud is only accessible by a single business or customer. A private cloud has many benefits of cloud computing, including accessibility, scalability, and ease of services. Initially, the private cloud was only utilized by larger corporations, but now, businesses of all sizes have options when it comes to private cloud providers. 

Benefits of Private Clouds and Private Cloud Providers

Many companies opt for a private cloud versus a public cloud to meet regulatory compliance requirements in their industry. In addition, a private cloud may be a better fit for businesses that primarily deal with sensitive data, such as confidential documents, intellectual property, medical records, personally identifiable information (PII), financial data, or other information that needs the highest levels of security and protection possible. 

Another benefit of private cloud storage, in addition to enhanced security, is the level of control.  

The sole organization with access to the private cloud can have complete control over its IT infrastructure and adapt and evolve as its business needs change. Private clouds may also be faster and more reliable than public clouds because they are designed for one business’ needs alone. When it comes to public clouds versus private clouds, the security and customization of a private cloud are what sets it apart. 

Drawbacks of Private Clouds and Private Cloud Providers

One of the key differences between public cloud vs. private cloud is the additional costs involved in having one cloud for one organization.  

The setup and maintenance of a private cloud are certainly more time-consuming than simply signing up for a public cloud service, and a private cloud is an investment that needs continuous maintenance and support. In-house IT management may be required by an organization (depending on the private cloud service provider), and costs like servers, network infrastructure, data centers, and software licenses may have to be handled by the customer or organization using the private cloud. 

Private clouds are great for flexibility, control, and security, but the ensuing managed services will require more time and much more personal investment by a business.  

Hybrid Clouds 

A hybrid cloud is a mixed computing environment with a combination of computing, storage, and services in different public cloud and private cloud environments, which includes on-premises data centers. The hybrid cloud option is becoming more and more widespread as businesses and organizations discover that it’s impossible to rely on a single public cloud provider alone, especially when it comes to distinctive applications and sensitive data. 

These hybrid cloud solutions allow a business to manage and migrate workloads between these different cloud computing environments while reducing costs, minimizing risks, and expanding existing capabilities to support digital growth as needed. A hybrid cloud environment effectively allows a business to utilize on-premises services while accessing flexible options for storing and accessing data and applications offered by a public cloud provider. 

When choosing a cloud service provider, the bottom line is to understand your needs now and well into the future.  

You may need a cloud service provider that provides exceptional security systems, low latency connectivity, dedicated servers for your business, or all the above. The best way to determine which type of cloud lies in your best interests is to consult with an expert who will help guide the way to a tailored solution for your business’s current and future needs. 

colocation, data center

Understanding Colocation 

Colocation and cloud may be used interchangeably, but there are some key differences in colocation vs cloud services.  

Essentially, colocation allows businesses to rent space for IT infrastructure in a data center. This third-party data center can be located close to home or anywhere in the world, and colocation centers (or colocation facilities) have their own physical security, tenant administrators, cooling systems, storage hardware, and disaster recovery systems.  

Once a vendor locks in at a site within a location facility or rents floor space, the colocation provider provides all the maintenance and upkeep for their own data center or colocation facility, taking this hefty burden off a business’ shoulders. 

The colocation facility operates 24/7 and is often a multi-tenant data center where each company has its portion of floor space, which doubles as its own data center. While a colocation facility primarily offers data center floor space, a colocation facility simply doesn’t have to serve as a basic off-premises data center.  

 Therefore, colocation requires businesses to do some legwork when it comes to maintaining the data, applications, and software stored in the colocation facility. However, the colocation facility can also provide managed services for businesses that don’t have a deep and experienced IT department. 

When it comes to choosing a colocation provider or colocation facility, it’s helpful to find a resource that is adept at both colocation and cloud services to find a hybrid solution that is tailored to a business’s operations.  

It’s an old myth that colocation is just a data center where you get a patch of floor space, electrical power, and an internet connection. In our modern era, colocation data centers offer various services, from managed IT services to hybrid cloud options. 

Again, when examining different options for colocation facilities, it’s essential to ask your colocation provider questions on what they can provide your designated users and your business, from cloud hosting to the security of the data center itself. 

data center, colocation, cybersecurity

Colocation vs. Cloud – Similarities Between Colocation and Cloud 

Both colocation and cloud can offer cost savings for businesses and organizations, compared to having your own data center on premises that requires a higher investment of time, expertise, and funds for routine maintenance.  

Colocation and cloud (particularly a private cloud) are dedicated to the businesses that own them.  

While cloud and colocation offer businesses different ways to store and manage their data, the basic premise is the same. Cloud and colocation provide the data center, security, and maintenance required to maintain access and keep data safe. Additionally, it helps with freeing organizations from operating and maintaining their own data centers.  

Colocation vs. Cloud – Differences Between Colocation and Cloud 

When it comes to colocation vs. cloud, the main difference is how the data is stored and accessed by a business or organization. A general overview of colocation vs. cloud (in all its varying forms) is as follows: 

  • Public clouds are housed within remote data centers owned, operated, and managed by the public cloud hosting provider.  
  • Private clouds are built for a specific organization and generally reside in the private cloud provider’s colocation facility. However, if applicable, a company’s own data center is also an option.  
  • Private and public clouds tend to act as managed hosting providers and may have multiple tenants. A public cloud provider may have many businesses, while private cloud tenants may be individual departments or designated users within a larger organization.  
  • Colocation facilities are also multi-tenant, and the business provides the infrastructure or equipment. In contrast, the data center provides the necessary space, power, cooling, and access to network services to ensure continued smooth operations. While cloud hosting features software or hardware that is remotely accessible via the internet, they may not have the same standards as a colocation provider when it comes to physical safeguards or advanced cooling and power configurations.  

engineers working with cloud services and colocation

Ready to Learn More About Cloud vs Colocation? DartPoints Can Assist!  

Determining whether cloud vs colocation services are right for you is not an easy endeavor. That is why you need an across-the-board expert to help you identify your best options.  

Start the process with DartPoints.  

As a leading provider of colocation, cloud, and cybersecurity, we can help your business or organization exceed your goals and ambitions. Regardless of whether the best fit for your operations is a data center, managed services, or a cloud hosting provider, we have the combined resources, expertise, and dedication that are required to address all your IT infrastructure needs.  

 Contact us today.