The Broad Canvas: Three Ways to Secure Business Data
The importance and ubiquity of data in our every day lives have taken our data strategy from locking a server in a strong room and hoping for the best to something more. You now need a Plan B in the form of some-or-other remote backup for continuity of services or cold backup. High speed fiber optics has removed many of the limitations of distance that used to exist twenty years ago. However using someone else’s cloud may not necessarily be the right solution.
Instead, you may prefer to place your own equipment in a colocation center with military-grade security, and actively manage your own information. Thirdly, you may decide on a combination that best suits your pocket and business requirements. We wrote this article to highlight the differences between colocation and cloud storage/processing, and the factors to take in account before reaching a decision.
Colocation Services – Things to Consider
Colocation means leasing or renting space in a commercial data center. The facility includes everything except the physical data-processing equipment. You can take a guided tour and inspect the security arrangements and cooling equipment. You connect your equipment to the provided cable and are online and in business if these check out. Also, becoming a member at one of these facilities taps you into a strong ecosystem of equipment/hardware providers, fiber providers, and service providers which can often times pay for itself.
But nothing is perfect. If the IT equipment falls over or you start running out of storage you need your own IT people to attend to the situation. That said, it does make sense to move your servers away from the office. That way, you don’t need expensive secondary power supplies and high-tech air-conditioning. More often than not, with proper planning, your footprint may be managed completely remotely utilizing remote hands on services that the datacenter provides along with the capability to remote reboot gear from your PDU strips.
The neat thing about colocation is you retain significant control over your data, and can satisfy ourselves that the power supply, cooling, fiber, and communication systems are up to scratch. And moreover comply with any regulatory constraints you are obliged to meet. A common mistake made by many is assuming that the discipline of data centers (mechanical, electrical, structural) should be covered by the same people that handle the IT (programming, administration, networking). These are distinctly different disciplines.
But there is another catch. You have to purchase, maintain and upgrade your equipment in the colocation center at your own cost. You still need expensive IT services from time to time, so you do not achieve the ideal of being ‘mere users’ where someone else worries about the technology. The pain point is the amount of time you are willing to invest in the system.
We find that many small to large enterprises that manage and are studious with their gear, organizations with high iops or local storage requirements, need their data to be local, or wish to
Cloud-Based Servers – The Pros and Cons
Data clouds may be misnomers in that they are physical facilities running out of data centers with hopefully similar levels of security to colocation centers. We say ‘hopefully’ because they are likely to be too far away to inspect, and assure standards. That said, the good ones are an excellent solution for customers willing to have their data on someone else’s carrier.
Cloud-based servers can be an ideal medium for backing up low- to middle-level data where there are no external regulators to satisfy. They are the least expensive option, and hence attractive from a pure business perspective, because someone else takes care of your maintenance and security needs. You can also easily upscale and downscale capacity and cost. This is a good fit for organizations that wish to be on a monthly cost model, good if you don’t have capital to invest in your IT, if you have a small or non-existent IT department, or want to refresh your equipment every 2-3 years.
But there is a snag. There always is. Cloud-based customers have to rely on the dedication and integrity of their service providers. There are good ones and there are bad ones as there are in every industry. If they go down then this is tantamount to a utility pulling a plug. If their server malfunctions, then the data on it may be lost.
Colocation Versus Cloud – Which is Best?
There is no hard-and-fast answer. Both colocation and cloud have important roles to play in the future protection of data. Equally important, both avoid the need to invest in private data-storage facilities that are expensive to upscale.
No data center, whether colocation or cloud-based is beyond the threat of utility failure. Although any worth their salt should be able to run independently of community services for a responsible period. The storage equipment itself should be redundant. There is no such thing as safe data without remote back.
The core question to ask is, “How much is reliable immediate access to my data worth to me?” Do I want to own the server, or do I want to buy into a reliable storage cloud that takes care of IT for me? Perhaps there’s a compromise. Use a colocation center for recent / live data, and back up historic data to a cheaper cloud. Hybrid colocation/cloud models have become popular topics when discussing disaster recovery.
Cloud storage has not turned out to be the universal solution it once promised. Many companies now prefer colocation services because they want to remain more in control of their information. There is a capital cost attached to this, of course. Data carrier storage is expensive, perhaps exorbitantly so but that is another issue for another day.
Seek Advice from Several Sources Before You Decide
We only truly appreciate the value of our data once we lose it. We wrote this post to help you understand the difference between cloud and colocation data protection services, and the factors to consider before choosing between them. We can’t make the decision for you, although we do recommend seeking advice from several independent sources.