What’s the difference between wholesale data centers and cloud computing?

What's the difference between wholesale data centers and cloud computing?

Cloud computing and cloud services receive so much press that many people, even IT professionals, assume that most outsource data centers deliver cloud services including virtualized servers, storage, network and IT services. But not all data centers offer cloud computing.

Data center services fall along a simple spectrum. At one end is colocation, also known as wholesale data center, outsource data center, or off-site computer room facilities. Colocation offers a few key features:

  • Hardened data center facilities - sturdy F5 tornado resistant data centers
  • Power redundancy - dual utility feeds, generators, and UPS for 99.995% uptime or better
  • Cooling redundancy - Multiple chiller loops and air handlers with concurrent maintainability
  • Fire suppression
  • Security
  • Access to multiple telecommunications providers.

At the other end is a pure service model where clients own no hardware and "rent" software, hardware, network, and storage. Common classifications of cloud computing include:

  • Software as a service - software applications available via the Internet
  • Platform as a service - development and delivery environments for specific software platforms
  • Infrastructure as a service - everything but the kitchen sink: network, security, servers, storage and IT services.

Today, most outsource data centers live somewhere in between. These data centers offer space, power, cooling, security and fire suppression, along with IT services such as shared or dedicated routers, switches, storage and servers.

Wholesale colocation is like a high-tech landlord. Clients who want the ability to own/lease and control their own hardware tend to choose colocation. They're happy to let the "colo" worry about power, cooling, sturdy buildings, fire suppression and security. But they want to retain control over hardware, networks and storage.

Cloud computing is more of a full service offering including hardware, software and services. Clients who want to reduce the IT burden inside an organization choose cloud computing. There are often cost savings in leveraging shared infrastructures that cloud computing providers deliver.

Wholesale data centers are often the backdrop for cloud computing services. Colocation does not offer cloud computing to its clients, but it's a great place for implementing a cloud .

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.
Alex Carroll