Data center facilities pro

Nov 17 2008   10:31PM GMT

Cloud computing versus colocation: What’s the right fit?

Suzanne Wheeler Suzanne Wheeler Profile: Suzanne Wheeler

What can the cloud do for you? That depends on your field of vision. At the 451 Group’s 3rd Annual Client Conference this week, I spoke with Antonio Piraino, a senior analyst of managed hosting at Tier1 Research, about the opportunities and disadvantages of cloud computing, managed hosting and data center colocation. Piraino said that companies’ view of these models is partly a function of size.  

Larger companies are wary of the cloud for its vagueness, Piraino said, while companies with limited resources are more receptive to the possibilities of this.  If your company has a generous supply of IT funding — an increasingly less likely possibility in this economic downturn — the cloud may be “good for your enterprise to play around with, but nothing more,” according to Dan Golding, also of Tier1 Research. Managed hosting appeals to companies that know which services they want and desire to receive them as directly as possible, Piraino said.   

Those with less funding and more flexibility, however, have more to gain from the evolving status of cloud computing. “The cloud is a developer’s dream,” said Piraino. “They can come up with any new application that a company might need, and then get, Amazon EC2 [Elastic Compute Cloud] or Google App Engine  to host it. Everyone’s hoping that theirs will be the next application to gain mass popularity in the enterprise.” 

Colocation, Piraino said, suits companies that need to expand their physical hardware volume without losing their current level of administrative security. It involves a management company running the company’s software securely from anywhere in the world.  

Piraino ultimately doused the cloud exuberance with a reality check for companies of all sizes: “If you look at computing services as a car, cloud computing is like the rental car you pick up at the airport – not a good option for long-term use.” he said. “Managed hosting is better in that regard, more like a leased car. You know what you’re getting, and how much it will cost.” 

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