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Are data centers and cloud solutions the same thing?

September 09, 2013

The sheer diversity of new technologies and business solutions is enough to drive any manager or CEO to the brink. For this reason, the market is seeing in uptick in need for IT talent management to determine resources and cut through the technical jargon.

One of the biggest sources of confusion occurs when attempting to decipher the functional difference between cloud computing and data centers. Don't they both hold sensitive information? Or is the only difference one of location?

On- versus off-premise storage   
The basic difference between the cloud and data centers is where information is stored. With cloud solutions, data is housed off-premise through services on the Internet, whereas data centers are on-site hardware typically maintained by a firm's IT department.

The cloud is a bit more limited than data centers in what it can host. Data centers can also host servers and other hardware. On the other hand, the cloud offers greater diversification and adds layers of protection, as data can be stored in different locations, which can protect against outages, natural disasters and other failures.

Superiority depends on needs    
Which data storage solution is preferable is a subjective decision, based on a business' needs, budget and security requirements. The typical profile of companies that use the technologies are as follows:

  • Data center: Perfect for companies that want full control over their systems and data. It's shared with no one, but will require continual reinvestment to expand capacity. 
  • The cloud: Easier for to alter to fit a firm's changing storage requirements. However, businesses relinquish a degree of control to cloud providers, and unless they invest in a private cloud, they will be sharing resources with other companies.

With security being a paramount concern for companies of all sizes and industries, the obvious choice may then seem to be a data center for firms handling extremely sensitive information.

"Because the cloud is an external form of computing, it may be less secure or take more work to secure than a data center," Business News Daily explained. "Unlike data centers, where you are responsible for your own security, you will be entrusting your data to a third-party provider that may or may not have the most up-to-date security certifications."

To make the best choice, firms will want to work with their IT network services departments to conduct a full security and storage assessment. If they decide to transition to the cloud, they'll want to investigate the different formats: public, private and community, as outlined by Data Center Knowledge.

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