Colocation and cloud computing are both third-party hardware and software services that involve data management and storage. They may seem largely the same at first glance, but there is a major difference. Cloud computing services utilize remote servers that are hosted online to process and store data so that you or your organization doesn't have to rely on local servers or PCs. On the other hand, colocation involves renting a space for servers and other hardware at an alternate location, so you won't have to build your own data center.

To put it another way, cloud computing is a service that's instantly available, usually for a monthly fee, that has already taken care of installation, software, and storage space and is waiting for you to use it. Colocation is like renting a reliable computer/server room that's waiting to be equipped with your organization's hardware and software solutions. It's basically like outsourcing an IT department. Both of these approaches can have great value depending on the size and goals of your organization.

Cloud computing advantages

Cloud computing services are often preferable for startups or smaller businesses that may find it difficult to afford a large IT department or that may lack the experience to run one.  Cloud storage is already proving incredibly useful for the general public thanks to options like cloud photo storage, and cloud services are expected to continue expanding dramatically. In fact, it's estimated that the public cloud market will grow to $331 billion by 2022. In addition to the general public, flexible cloud services offer great benefits to organizations.

Arguably the biggest advantage offered by cloud computing is the cost reduction. There's no need to invest in building or renting facilities, you won't need expensive hardware, and there's no need to staff a large IT team. Cloud solutions also generally provide reliable data security with authentication protocols, data encryption, and customizable access control settings. Some cloud providers may even offer additional security protocols to further protect your company's data.

Cloud services are also highly scalable, making them ideal for a business looking to expand in the future. It's much easier to expand an organization's cloud capacity rather than having to purchase more physical infrastructure, which gives cloud companies a significant speed advantage vs others. The cloud also offers excellent data recovery options, since you can access stored data from any computer with an online connection instead of relying on physical hard drives.

Colocation benefits

Colocation is great for larger companies that require reliable IT departments. Building a data center is expensive, as is maintaining one, and the high costs simply don't make sense anymore for many companies. It's much more cost-effective to simply rent a space to stock your own computer rooms. Some colocation companies will even take care of staffing an IT team for you, so you can focus on running the core of your business.

Interconnected data centers are a must for large-scale growth, and businesses operating throughout a country, or internationally, need multiple data centers to form a reliable ecosystem to manage, store, and process massive amounts of data. Reliable colocation services allow for convenient and efficient global connectivity that simply can't be achieved with an in house data center. Customizable services also allow organizations to maintain complete control over their data infrastructure and installation processes.

In addition to superior connectivity and control, colocation centers are also backed up through multiple power grids, meaning you'll always stay online. You'll also enjoy unmatched security thanks to constantly updated firewalls and security measures to keep your data safe.

Combined efforts

Of course, cloud services and colocation don't have to be mutually exclusive. Plenty of companies take advantage of both by housing cloud servers in outsourced data centers. Colocation can help larger companies transition into cloud computing since colocation already involves storing data at an offsite facility. A colocation support team can make the transition significantly easier than if you handled everything on site.