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, data center vs cloud: which is the better choice for your business?

Data Center vs Cloud: What are they?

A cloud storage service is a version of a data center that is not located on your company’s physical premises. It enables access to your business data via the internet. The cloud provider performs ongoing maintenance and updates and often owns multiple data centers in several geographic locations to safeguard your data during outages and other failures.

A data center is server hardware maintained on company premises where you can store and access data through your local network. An in-house IT department typically maintains an on-premises data center.

data center vs cloud

Data Center vs Cloud: Major distinctions

When talking about what cloud computing and data centers are, we somehow managed to highlight their fundamental difference i.e. architectural. The key difference between cloud and data centers is that one is a physical setup whilst the other is an off-premises virtual service. There are some other major distinctions between both as well.

Security

There is a notable difference between the security that both offer. Of course, understandably cloud computing is less secure than data centers as the latter is an in-house setup and is liable to protect your security. On the contrary, cloud computing is internet-based which puts you at an increased risk of data leaks and privacy invasion threats. Moreover, you are responsible for your security with cloud computing because the third-party operator of the cloud is not liable for your data. However, many companies claim server security and monitoring on C Panel. These kinds of companies have advanced protection software.

Cost and Budget

If your company builds a data center from the ground up, that will take a lot of time, and your company will be responsible for the system’s maintenance and administration. Operating a large data center can cost a company $10 million to $25 million per year.

A cloud service is more cost-effective, especially for small companies. It does not require nearly as much time or money to set up and run. The cloud service is available for use almost immediately upon registration. As your company’s data needs change over time, the cloud vendor should be able to scale your service up or down. Most companies have a range of subscription plans to account for this.

Architecture

Whilst the purpose of both is the same; storage, management, and maintenance of data – there is an evident architectural difference between both. So the first key difference is that a data center is land-based, in-house, and has a physical setup with a physical presence of IT professionals working together as a team. On the other hand, a cloud is more like a virtual, physically non-existent store that is dependent on the internet and is accessible only by the user over the internet.

Other factors to consider

In addition to the big guns that have been highlighted above, there are a few other factors that one should take into consideration to understand the key differences between cloud computing and data centers.

Capacity

The storage capacity of data centers is limited. There is always a certain amount of data that you will have to subscribe to for upload/download. However, clouds offer unlimited data storage capacity to users.

Access

Access to the data that is stored by the data center is not direct and easy. If you want to access your data, you will have to undergo a process of verification first and this can be time-consuming. On the other hand, cloud computing is direct and accessible by the user at any hour of the day via any device.

Management

The data at data centers are managed by IT, professional teams. Hence, there is no direct involvement of the user whereas on clouds, there is no third party involved and the user is responsible to manage his data online.

Control

At data centers, you will be given administrative rights to have control over your data but it will always be supervised by experts. Cloud computing will give you control over the data but the third-party authorizer will have control over your data with or without your prior knowledge as well. Also, clouds are synced with public forums which can give unnecessary access to a third party.

data center vs cloud

Which is better, then – a data center or the cloud?

We do not need to pit them against each other – instead, we should consider how we can combine them. Many companies do use both or combine them with other IT infrastructure solutions.

The main difference between the cloud and a data center is how data is managed and stored in each. In the cloud, the servers belong to the cloud service provider and data is managed virtually. In a data center, the servers are not the property of the center but the person renting the premises. If you value privacy, security, and independence, you should consider choosing a data center from the start. If your volumes are low and unlikely to increase over time, the cloud might be the most cost-effective option.

Both solutions allow companies to cut costs, as long as you consider carefully when to use one or the other. However, making poor choices or not making any at all may cost millions as volumes increase.