The Cloud vs. the Data Center: What’s the Difference?

The Cloud vs. the Data Center: What’s the Difference?
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The Cloud vs. the Data Center: What’s the Difference?

You’ve heard it all before. Your business needs the cloud. Your business needs a data center. Your data center needs the cloud. Your cloud needs a data center. Yet no one has told you why! Unless you’re in the business of providing or maintaining these services, you probably always thought that the cloud and a data center were interchangeable terms. However, the two are fundamentally different. On a basic level, the cloud relies on the Internet whereas a data center relies on a concrete location. So which is the better choice for your business?

Data Center – The term “data center” can be interpreted in a few different ways. First, an organization can run an in-house data center maintained by trained IT employees whose job it is to keep the system up and running. Second, it can refer to an offsite storage center that consists of servers and other equipment needed to keep the stored data accessible both virtually and physically.

Pros: Data centers come with a number of pros. Organizations able to have an in-house data storage center are far less reliant on maintaining an Internet connection. Data will be accessible as long as the local network remains stable. Remote storage has its advantages as well. If the organization’s location is compromised via fire, break-in, flooding, etc., the data will remain untouched and unharmed at its remote location.

Cons: Having all or most of your data stored in one location makes it more easily accessible to those you don’t want having access, both virtually and physically. Depending on your organization’s budget, it could prove too expensive to maintain an organization-owned and operated data center.

Cloud Computing—Before the dawn of the Internet, cloud computing didn’t exist. It simply couldn’t. But it’s no longer the way of the future. Some predict that by 2018, data centers will begin to decline and cloud storage will take over. So what is it? The cloud is an online storage system designed to fragment and duplicate your data across multiple locations. In case of failures, a cloud system ensures that there is always a backup of the backup. Simply put, the only way anything ever put on the cloud can ever be destroyed is if the Internet itself no longer exists.

Pros: In our increasingly interconnected world, the cloud is the answer. Services like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Drive have embraced its ability to store data online and have created services to capitalize on its potential. Your business can do the same thing with your data by making it accessible to your organization all day, every day. And with online access, you’ll never be cut off from your data as long as you have Internet.

Cons: Anything online is more susceptible to virtual attack. Simply put, a hacker is more likely to isolate a cloud storage system than a data center. Cloud systems also typically don’t have as much power as a data center because of their online nature. Think of the difference between offline Microsoft Office Suite and online Google Docs. While Google Docs is effective, it may not have the power you need that a localized Microsoft Office can offer.

So how do you decide? It comes down to a number of factors. It may seem that cloud computing is the way to go, but certain organizations simply can’t afford the limited power. If your organization needs customizable and wholly dedicated system, a data center is more appealing. You’re not sharing any space with another organization. Keep in mind, however, that if you need more space or computing power, it translates into purchasing more equipment, staff to maintain it, and electricity.

If you don’t need a customizable powerhouse dedicated only to your storage needs, consider instead a third party cloud system. It will cost less since you are sharing the space with other organizations hiring the third party to maintain their data. Plus, if you need more space, most organizations will allow you to up your storage space, no questions asked. The downside is that you lose the element of control since you are contracting another organization to hold your data within their system.

There’s a reason why they coexist side by side. Many organizations have found a way to optimize their usage of both a data center and a cloud computing system by placing the most essential and critical data in a data center and less confidential information on the cloud to be more easily accessible. At Network Specialists, we offer both solutions! We currently have six data centers up and running in St. Louis, O’Fallon, Chicago, Dallas, Raleigh, and Denver. In addition, we are gearing up to bring on more data centers in Omaha and Washington, D.C. this year. Check us out at , and with a free consultation we’ll help you decide the best route you should take to keep your data secure.