How Is Colocation Different From Cloud Hosting?

When it comes to high-demand, remote hosting, there are two heavyweight contenders. And they aren’t necessarily who you think they are, either. I’m speaking of cloud hosting and colocation. They actually have a lot more in common than you’d think. Even if they do differ in a few core ways.

Colocation or the cloud?

It may not be a question businesses ask themselves often, but it’s still one that comes up. They’re two of the heaviest lifters where high-demand hosting is concerned, after all. In order to understand which is the better choice for your business, it’s important to first understand how they differ from one another.

Because although they offer many of the same benefits and advantages, they are ultimately as different as night and day.

With colocation, you’re renting out physical space. You’re leasing a server rack or room from your host in which you can store your infrastructure. Depending on whether you’ve chosen managed or unmanaged colocation, you may also outsource the maintenance and management of that infrastructure.

Where things get a bit confusing is the fact that you can very easily use colocated infrastructure to manage and maintain your own private cloud. And indeed, that’s exactly what many clients do. Speaking of the cloud, it’s hardware-agnostic.

Cloud hosts do manage and maintain physical infrastructure, but their clients almost never interact with that infrastructure – not directly. Generally, you do not own the equipment on which a cloud platform is hosted, though you may have ownership over the specific digital infrastructure it supports. A cloud provider does not deliver equipment – they deliver resources.

So…when should you choose one over the other?

Generally speaking, colocation is a better option for clients with very specific hardware needs. Chances are good that if you’re choosing a colocation service, you’ve already invested in physical infrastructure, yet there’s something preventing you from hosting that infrastructure internally. It’s also a good option for businesses that need to remain in control of their hardware.

As for the cloud, it’s the better choice for a client without existing hardware infrastructure, as well as clients that wish to augment existing infrastructure without additional hardware costs. It can also act as an efficient, effective replacement for existing hardware, allowing businesses to free up space and save on maintenance cost.

Whether you choose colocation or the cloud comes down to your specific business needs. Do you need availability, scalability, and flexibility, or would you prefer to prioritize security and compliance? Do you own the necessary infrastructure to make colocation worthwhile, or would it be better to take the virtualized approach?

At the end of the day, neither solution is superior to the other – they each serve different needs, and each does what it needs to do quite well.