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Cloud or Colocation: What’s right for my business?

The rapid rise in popularity and amazing new collaboration capabilities of Google Apps and countless other Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings are currently enticing companies to ‘Cloud Computing’, more so than ever before.

It has CIOs and IT managers everywhere grappling with the: “Do I, Don’t I’s”, that is: ‘Do I or don’t I move our company’s assets to the cloud?’

Cloud Computing has been a buzz-word around town for a long time now, but, of the West Australian enterprises you know, who’s putting their money where their mouth is? Do you know anyone who’s ‘all in’, so to speak?

To understand the problem better, let’s define the options:

  • Onsite: you own, control and maintain IT hardware and software on your premises
  • Colocation: you own, control and maintain IT hardware and software offsite via a third-party datacentre
  • Cloud: you utilise virtual products and services delivered online via a subscription or other arrangement.

Considering all possibilities could be enough to put you into a spin but there are some fundamental indicators to determine what is best for your organisation.

  • Are you dependent on any particular software or hardware? Specifically, customised or proprietary? Is there a cloud based version or alternate web based solution?
  • Do you need absolute control over all that is configurable? If so, could it be an indication that some aspects of your infrastructure hasn’t evolved or isn’t robust enough?
  • Do you have vast quantities of historical data and is it important to the business’s core operations day-to-day? Could an alternate method of archiving be considered? Is it worth investing to have it migrated?

If any of these apply to your business, a full move to the cloud may still be on hold for you at this time, unless you wish to spend a lot of money on making it happen, as these area’s become more accommodating though, this will change.

The nature of your business also has a large part to play. Obviously the smaller your business the easier it is for you to embrace change. Also, if your business isn’t overly segmented, or reliant on connecting too many dots, a move to the cloud would be easier to achieve.

We speak from experience too, having transitioned ComSpark from what was primarily a pen and paper based business in 2009 to the completely paperless one we are today. Now over 95% of our business apps are cloud based and fully integrated across all departments. But its not without its pitfalls as we do occasionally experience lag time or outages on a number of web apps which does frustrate staff and can cause delays.

But like just about anything, there are weaknesses in an argument for and against a move to the cloud, so what are the major liabilities?

All three options have vulnerabilities in a physical sense, whether servers are housed in; your office, a data centre in Malaga or underground in Sweden, some element of risk cannot be avoided as they do exist in a physical world.

Cyber attacks have become part of life, if you become a target and your infrastructure is onsite or colocation, you hope you’ve done enough to secure it. That’s not to say that cloud entities are exempt however, you’d want to be sure they’re offering adequate protection.

Depending on your infrastructure set-up, onsite would have to be at highest risk, unless you have a comprehensive backup system in a unaffected location. Colocation is also not immune to this problem, nor cloud, but its much more likely they would both have UPS in support. It’s also become common protocol for most cloud entities nowadays to spread resources across a network of server banks.

Maintenance and Upgrades
As a cloud customer, you’ll be notified when maintenance or upgrades will or have occurred whereas its up to you and your resources if and when you wish to do so, which costs you accordingly.

Discerning whether or not cloud vendors can offer the efficacy your business needs when you need it is without doubt one of the critical factors. With your infrastructure onsite or colocation, your personnel aren’t as defenseless should an issue arise.


In 2014, it seems diversity is still the name of the game when it comes to IT infrastructure for most companies. You know what they say about eggs in one basket.. And fixing things that aren’t broken..

Essentially, you need to ask yourself, is there enough impetus to spend large quantities of money and time to implement the integrations, migrate data and retrain personnel?

A time is sure to come when the benefits completely outweigh the cost of the foray, but for now its the old bricks and mortar analogy, ‘safe as houses’.

How much of your business is in the cloud?