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27 August 2020

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Cloud vs. Colo - Hybrid Easier to Deploy

Data Center by Tom Collins
New hybrid-cloud options are easier to deploy and change the “cloud-vs-colo” game.

Since the mid-2000s, the colocation industry has generally thought of itself as an alternative to the public cloud. “Cloud vs. colo” evolved to create and impression of either/or.

Although that made sense initially, the stiff competition between public cloud providers and colocation data centers has changed over the past several years. The largest public cloud providers have rolled out a new generation of hybrid cloud solutions that make it easy for customers to access public cloud services while housing their workloads in a data center such as the Silver Spring or Rockville facilities owned and operated by Atlantech Online.

Here’s a look at what these hybrid cloud services entail and why we believe they paint a bright future for colocation in our data centers.

Cloud vs. Colo: The traditional choice

It’s easy to understand why the public cloud and colocation were traditionally portrayed as an either/or proposition.

When running workloads in the public cloud, you got access to a range of different services that could be spun up almost instantaneously. What was lost was the privacy and control that come with hosting workloads in a colocation data center, where customers have greater ability to choose which hardware they use, how it is configured, and how it is isolated from other organizations’ resources.

On the other hand, many in the marketplace felt that a company like Atlantech Online wasn’t able to offer the flexibility or broad range of services of public cloud providers. We were perceive to just specialize in infrastructure.

Based on Wall Street results and choices by CTOs and CIOs, it seemed that the public cloud proved to be the more appealing option for many companies, and there was a race to migrate to the public cloud. We saw that some didn’t always stay there and moved back to colocation – but it would be hard to argue that our industry enjoyed as much momentum over the past decade as did public cloud computing. Revenue data shows that the public cloud has grown more quickly than colocation.

In order to meet the demand for the good points about colo, the public cloud vendors’ created new hybrid cloud frameworks, making it more feasible to take advantage of public cloud services while keeping workloads inside a colocation center.

Major new frameworks include:

  • Azure Stack: Enables customer to deploy services from the Microsoft Azure cloud on their own hardware. Azure Arc, a newer service that remains in development, will do the same thing in an even more flexible way.
  • AWS Outposts: A new framework for running services from the AWS cloud on private hardware.
  • Anthos, a Kubernetes-based platform from Google that makes it possible to build a consistent deployment and management layer for applications that are deployed across multiple clouds or data centers.

When reviewing these choices, customer may see some limitations with each. Azure Stack only works with certified hardware, which may differ from hardware that is you are currently using. AWS Outposts is more restrictive in that it requires customers to use AWS's own hardware. Google Anthos works with any hardware, but its major caveat is that it may be difficult to deploy and manage, especially for organizations without extensive in-house Kubernetes expertise.

Yet, it is clear that these hybrid solutions open vast new opportunities for bridging the gap that has traditionally separated public cloud from colocation data centers and can definitely deployed in Atlantech Online data centers. Imagine taking advantage of AWS S3 storage or Azure Virtual Machines on servers located in your own Rockville Data Center cage space.

In conjunction with Atlantech Online’s Cloud Connect service, these hybrid cloud solutions provide access to a broad range of public cloud services. They support not just the run of the mill IaaS compute and storage services, but also serverless functions, databases, and even PaaS-like software delivery platforms that are built into public clouds. They also typically cost the same or less than you would pay to access the same services directly within a public cloud. That means that total cost of ownership, even after you factor in colocation pricing, could be less for users of a hybrid cloud framework within our data centers than it would be if you used just a public cloud, or just a colocation solution.

This is all a big deal, especially because earlier generations of hybrid cloud solutions from the public cloud vendors did not offer this kind of compatibility or broad functionality.

What this ultimately means is still to be determined as hybrid cloud platforms like Azure Stack and AWS Outposts are still new to the marketplace.

But, it is clear that it no longer makes a lot of sense to think about the public cloud and colocation data centers in oppositional terms. This new generation of hybrid cloud frameworks has introduced a level of integration between public cloud and colocation that was difficult to envision just a few years ago. And you can take advantage of it all at one of our data centers.

Want to hear more? Book a meeting with us, today!

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About the author:

Tom Collins (Twitter, LinkedIn) - is the Director of Enterprise Sales & Marketing for Atlantech Online. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the Internet Service Provider industry and is known for translating technology into positive results for business. A native of Washington, DC, a graduate from University of Maryland (degrees in Government & Politics and Secondary Education), Tom is also a five-time Ironman finisher.