Data Center Options

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While there are several data center options for hosting your data – from enterprise data centers to shared colocation spaces to the cloud, this week, we’ll focus on cloud vs. colocation, weighing the potential benefits and drawbacks of each compared with a standard data center.

Colos vs. the Cloud: Which is Better For Your Data Center Needs?

The focus on data centers today is to ‘virtualize’ servers, storage, and the network is where the industry seems to be heading and more so for cloud-based enterprise solutions where IT is migrating towards (private, public, and hybrid). The cloud solution offers cost effectiveness, speed, agility, and transparency as the balance between business drivers and cloud maturity.

There are clear advantages and disadvantages between the cloud service provider (CSP) and colocation or ‘colo’ host. In fact, many colos may host CSPs but understanding their differences and how they address unique business requirements is essential – Business Weekly article Cloud vs. Data Center: What’s the Difference may to clarify.

There may be some initial similarities in data center options between the colo and traditional hosting solutions. The colo customer owns their racks, servers, network equipment, and hardware/software but, in contrast, the hosting site may only specialize in application hosting, database hosting, website hosting, and other services. One major difference is that the colo must provide its own IT staff to maintain operations and, at a cost, may have the option of ‘remote hands’ services provided by the host.

The choice of selecting a CSP or remote IT approach when compared with other options typically focuses on three factors: system costs, business requirements, and security. There are varying views from industry but many would agree that the elastic cloud makes handling and adapting to data traffic volume variability easier while offering greater capabilities with automated tasks, data analytics, and support for the Internet of Things (IoT) – both hype and in truth.

In a 2016 Gartner press release, it was noted that CSPs and colos were “natural allies, not competitors” as it pertains to the hybrid approach where colos that hosts the cloud can improve security, reduce latency, and greatly improve interoperability. In contrast, the colo may have the cost-benefit advantages of reduced data storage costs and is definitely a contender.

Regardless of which data center option is best, there are many pros and cons to both CSP and colo:

Cloud Solutions

Many IT organizations will supply the demand with multiple clouds. If your organization is focused on services, the cloud solution may be preferred.


  • Great option for organizations to focus on delivering solutions
  • More cost effective
  • Risk to business continuity
  • Improvements in rolling out cloud services quickly
  • Lowers IT operating costs
  • Cloud is a major driver for outsourcing
  • Cloud outsourcing without losing secure information
  • Host is responsible for HVAC, electrical power, and IT equipment


  • Diminished control of IT resources
  • Requires SLA agreements
  • Requires OpEx costs
  • Platform and equipment dependent
  • All hosts not equal – security concerns
  • Potential compliance issues regarding security regulations


This data center option offers an advanced infrastructure which large providers need and can reach new markets where no data center exists. In addition to being efficient, they offer redundancy, low-latency connectivity, and robust security.


  • Great option for the services provider
  • Much cheaper than building own data center
  • Redundancies – data (N+1, 2N, and 2N +1) and electrical power
  • Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)
  • Infrastructure professionals for technical on-site support (remote hands)
  • Security – physical and logical


  • Managing equipment technologies can be burdensome
  • Requires IT staffing
  • Dependent on hosts’ network connections, electrical power, HVAC
  • Requires leasing
  • Costly OpEx and CapEx
  • IT infrastructure become more complex to manage

To learn more about unique data center options – including colocations – contact Instor’s infrastructure experts for a consult today.