The time is ripe for deciding on the next course of action that any business organization needs to take in terms of its on premise IT infrastructure. Given the fact that right choice of server infrastructure is extremely important for success of any business enterprise, one needs to understand the ongoing transformation of IT landscape owing to accelerated rate of cloud adoption by organizations.

If an organization is exploring ways to migrate IT infrastructure from its on premise data center facility, there are two key approaches to choose from. The first and more traditional approach is that of a colocation center and the second and more sought after route is a virtualized cloud.

Any business enterprise can choose either of these two solutions to match its unique requirements. Both the approaches can be successfully adopted to drive business growth by helping organizations meet specific objectives. 

Understanding the Basic Challenge

Modern management of resources is driven by optimization strategies. Organizations have to balance their internal IT capabilities with escalating costs of maintenance; need to improve customer satisfaction, and so forth. Delivery of every key service that forms core of the technology agenda has to take into account server infrastructure.

Present trend of cloud adoption is focused on transformation of IT infrastructure and subsequently the entire enterprise by leveraging scalability, flexibility, and agility of cloud based hosting solutions for driving business growth. The major factor that is encouraging this transformation of enterprise IT facilities to cloud is the growing burden of onsite IT infrastructure that may be rendered obsolete in very near future. 

There is an important factor to be considered before exploring the alternative of shifting entire infrastructure to cloud. Many organizations have invested significantly in building on premise IT infrastructure. This calls for a major policy shift while migrating to cloud or any other alternative for sake of outsourcing. 


Key highlights of cloud based infrastructure

As many as seven out of ten organizations have deployed at least a portion of their IT infrastructure in the cloud and the rest are proposing to adopt cloud applications in some way or the other in time to come. This confirms that cloud has become an inseparable part of every organization’s IT infrastructure.

Important advantages of cloud

On-demand and scalable- Businesses can acquire or de-commission resources such as power, bandwidth, and space instantly as per high and lows of demand to maintain uninterrupted availability of online services. This feature prepares organizations to adapt to varying needs of business smoothly and also helps innovate business processes to keep pace with challenges of advanced analytics and big data and.

Cost-efficiency- Cloud helps you save on capital investment since the services such as the platform and software applications are virtual in nature. This also empowers you with greater control of expenditure and optimization of capital expenditure.

Outstanding flexibility- Cloud service providers offer virtual services and there is no involvement of any capital outlay. This offers amazing freedom to users since there is no need for entering into contracts of long duration and users can easily migrate to other providers. You are only required for the resources that are consumed in given time frame.

Freedom- Users are free to focus on core competencies without need to worry about upgrades, security patches, maintenance, and upkeep. All such tasks are handled by providers of cloud services. Cloud users are therefore in a better position to devote time for business growth.

Compliance- Enterprises can ensure that all security related protocols are being complied with be cloud provider. These may include HIPAA, PCI, and SOX to name a few.

Assured availability and customer support- Online businesses can thrive only on consistency of web presence with no downtime event. Cloud infrastructure promises a sound network of servers and offers excellent uptime. Users can also make sure that customer support is made part of Service Level Agreements.


Disadvantages of cloud services

Controls- In spite of being able to offload routine tasks and management to cloud services, IT managers of the enterprise can lose control on vital aspects infrastructural controls. This can be tackled by selecting a cloud provider that has a reliable track record.

Data access and lock in- Since users are not aware of hardware that supports their data in cloud they may find it hard to access or retrieve their critical data. This can be managed by putting SOPs in place.

Cost concerns- Public cloud services provide remarkable cost advantages. It is found that cloud services can prove to be costlier than colocation in the longer run. You need to keep tab on costs of running cloud based applications to avoid outgrowing the benefits of costs.

In house management- The in-house IT teams may not be in a position to ensure smooth deployment of vital services since cloud is a new concept.

Cloud application for businesses

It is found that businesses can acquire remarkable competitiveness to gain an edge over larger organization in terms of IT capabilities by using cloud based applications. There are several service categories offered by cloud providers that help even small or medium organizations to enjoy benefits of cost effectiveness, flexibility, resource optimization, elasticity, and scalability.

Private and hybrid cloud- Considering all the options that are available for organizations for exploring amazing advantages of cloud computing, we arrive at the two most sought after cloud models namely Public Cloud and Private Cloud.

Pubic Cloud is an ideal resource to deploy a plethora of applications to boost business processes while private cloud can be adopted for testing and developing application workloads.  Private Cloud is also an ideal alternative for managing internal business processes or for handling sensitive data. These two cloud models can be amalgamated to have a hybrid environment to test applications in the most optimum manner.

A hybrid cloud imparts remarkable scalability to manage peak time traffic. This approach has greater feasibility than opting for a large capacity infrastructure that would be idle during normal traffic. The pay-as-you-go model of payment is an added advantage since organizations can opt for higher resources as the need arises.

IaaS and PaaS- Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud service model that offers a ready to use platform for application deployment. It is also reckoned for accelerating the process of development.

Management of an IT infrastructure is a breeze by acquiring Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model of cloud based services. It allows a utility based payment facility to allow use the existing infrastructure by reducing cost of investing in infrastructure.

Ideal environment for test and development- Cloud computing models provide the most ideal environment for testing and development of application workloads. You can access ready to use environments by availing cloud capabilities. These customized environments prove to be extremely cost effective than legacy methods and usually offer support of automated provisioning of resources in physical as well as virtual formats.

Managing Big Data- Analytics isthe driving force of modern marketing. Cloud computing empowers users with ability of using large volumes of structured as well as unstructured data for understanding effect of their marketing campaigns, product launches, and  other marketing inputs. Big Data analytics is a very useful resource for extracting meaningful information by identifying behavior and buying patterns of their customers.  By analyzing extremely large volumes of data procured from multiple sources cloud computing is able to help enterprises design effective strategies to gain a winning edge over the competition.

Accessing and storing files- Cloud allows ease of storing and accessing and retrieving data files via a web enabled interface. Companies can choose to use remote storage or on-site storage facilities in accordance with regulatory compulsions. Enterprises need to pay only for the space utilized for storing their data and can have freedom from frequent monitoring of their storage infrastructure for the space availability or consumption.

Cloud based Disaster Recovery- Disaster Recovery in cloud environment is far more economical and faster in comparison with traditional methods of DR model. Conventional disaster recovery procedures involve rigid processes and fixed assets.

Cloud data backup- Cloud computing has facilitated data backup by removing complexities of traditional backup methods. Cloud data backup is also much faster and reliable. It involves use of an off-site backup facility that is used to store the data for greater security and protection from any untoward event impacting the main facility. Organizations need not invest in purchasing additional hardware. Cloud backups need no manual intervention since these are executed automatically.

Colocation- secured and traditional

Businesses can continue to maintain and use their hardware equipment by outsourcing server space and sharing cost of cooling, security, bandwidth, and power. Colocation involves renting of data center floor space and is considered as a traditional yet practical approach to maintain IT infrastructure. There are several attributes of colocation that continue to benefit large number of enterprises that are able to maintain IT manpower.

Control and ownership of equipment- The most compelling attribute of colocation is that the organizations can continue to own and control their hardware equipment. It also empowers enterprise IT managers to access and retrieve data and exercise control on technology infrastructure.

Compliance and security- If you need to grant a fully dedicated infrastructure to your server infrastructure in order to obviate security related drawbacks of a multi-tenant environment, then you need to adopt colocation. This is especially applicable to the organizations that are required to follow stringent regulations for protection of data.

Service provider’s proficiency- Colocation providers of repute have gained remarkable expertise of providing state of the art infrastructure and have support of technically adept IT engineers who are able to offer outstanding services to customers.

Reliable and resilient services- Clients can benefit from customized Service Level Agreements that make sure that colocation services are being offered as per their unique needs. Providers with multiple data centers are also able to replicate the service across all facilities. Colocation providers are also regarded for providing robust and reliable backup solutions.


Demerits of colocation

Prohibitive costs- Huge capital expenditure is the highlight of colocation that involves cost of software, serves, and storage to name a few.

Infrastructure monitoring- Users of colocation services are supposed to monitor and maintain their equipment. The service provider may offer such facilities as value added services and not as part of standard colocation plan.

Lack of agility- Expansion of data center facilities or development of additional capacities is not possible unless planned much in advance. Businesses cannot avail additional services in response to their demand unless the service providers are notified in advance.

Limited accessibility- Colocation facilities need to be located within proximity for convenience. If the facilities are at overseas location, it may impact latency of page loading speeds. The location should not be within easy reach of your IT personnel.

Relevance of colocation

Ease of scaling out- It is much easier to opt for additional capacities as and when required without spending huge amounts.

Mitigation of Total Cost of Ownership- Colocation demands far lesser investments than on site data center facilities. Data center colocation is even more economical than modular infrastructures.

Optimization of budget- Organizations can channelize the capital expenditure that involves cost of building own infrastructure to more productive operating expenditure by opting to colocate IT infrastructure.

Conclusion- cloud or colocation

Colocation and cloud can both be considered as ideal approaches for transforming on-site IT infrastructure of an organization. The only way to finalize the best option is to analyze current and future objectives of your business in addition to policies and strategies for growth and expansion that may include vertical as well as horizontal spread.

One should not overlook the significance of associating with the right service provider. Only the proven service provider is able to offer reliability and the entire gamut of benefits of the solution that you are going to adopt.

The right provider of cloud or colocation services must have a sound reputation and a proven track record of above average customer service in addition to outstanding technical expertise. You should also look for ability of provider to ensure that your server infrastructure is smoothly migrated to the new environment.

Cloud and colocation are extremely valuable options to make sure that your server infrastructure is in the most viable and future ready environment. These are right alternatives to in-house data center facilities that are heavy on capital expenditure and aging faster than one can imagine. Organizations need to spend time and expertise in determining whether they should choose colocation, cloud or a mix of both options.