If you're looking for an alternative to a private server, you're probably considering either data center colocation or cloud hosting. Depending on your company's technical setup and situation, either colocation or cloud hosting could be the optimal solution.
Colocation: Flexible, Robust and Secure
Five years ago, server colocation was the most popular alternative to maintaining a private server -- and it's still quite useful. Colocation allows you to have a physical machine at your disposal, often requisitioned directly through the colocation center. This server is managed and maintained at a data center, with high-speed internet access and stable electrical infrastructure.
Through colocation, you can retain as much control over your physical server as you desire while still automating and outsourcing many of the more routine maintenance tasks. In fact, you could theoretically colocate a private "cloud" network of your own computers, should you so desire.
Cloud Hosting: Scalable, Elastic and Affordable
Cloud hosting allows your company to requisition a certain amount of resources on a large network of computers. Processing time, system memory and hard drive space are all allocated to your business on-the-fly as you need them, either for a flat rate or a fee related to the resources that you use. To an end user, cloud hosting may not look very different from colocation.
The biggest benefit to cloud hosting -- and where it departs from colocation -- is its ability to quickly (and temporarily) scale upwards. Should your company need access to a large amount of resources suddenly, the system can simply allocate these resources to you. This is known as "elasticity." It means that you don't need to provision more resources on a permanent basis than you truly need; you pay only for what you actually consume.
Colocation vs. Cloud Hosting: A Tool for Every Scenario
Neither colocation nor cloud hosting is necessarily better than the other; it comes down to what you need as a company. When deciding between colocation and cloud hosting, there are four primary concerns: cost, security, scalability and flexibility. Cost often comes down to a factor of the latter three points; basic cloud hosting is often far less expensive than colocation, but when you add the need for security and elastic provisioning, the cost may increase.
Contrary to popular belief, server colocation is not necessarily any more or less secure than cloud hosting, as it depends on how the server itself is secured. Server colocation has the potential to be more inherently secure than cloud solutions because the system is dedicated to a single client -- your company. But if your company does not have the appropriately trained IT staff members, this level of security may not be attainable.
Server colocation does not allow for the rapid provisioning of additional resources the way that cloud hosting does, so it lacks the inherent scalability of cloud hosts. On the flip side, you have a dedicated machine that can be tailored to your company's use -- and that increases the basic flexibility and robustness of the service.
If you want to learn more about data center colocation or cloud hosting, then contact CWPS today. We can help you find the solution that works best for you.