Use Case for Collocation in a Cloud IaaS World?

Kenneth Johnson / February 6, 2015

I am such an evangelist for cloud IaaS, I sometimes get asked, “Would you ever recommend collocation?” Usually I am asked this by someone who currently uses collocated infrastructure and understands the difference between what she has and true cloud IaaS.

For those readers for whom the line is foggy, the difference between collocation and cloud IaaS essentially boils down to the flexibility and on-demand nature of IaaS that allows companies to be more flexible and agile while saving a great deal of money. With collocation generally a vendor allocates space and/or hardware to meet your need and usually requires some form of long term contract. Collocation is slower to purchase and bring online and still requires a lot of your own IT staff to do the mundane tasks related to hardware, OS and DB patching etc. Collocated infrastructure, in short can never be elastic—dynamically scaling to meet workload demand—and as a result will always be more costly and inefficient.

So do I think there is a use case for such slow, inefficient infrastructure? Well, surprisingly, yes. But the use cases are becoming fewer and fewer. It used to be true that if you needed dedicated big Iron to run a massive Oracle database, migrating completely to cloud IaaS was out of the question. This is no longer the case. IBM and others are offering IaaS capabilities that include massive dedicated bare metal servers. And if your dedicated hardware requirement is simply HIPAA related, you can accomplish this on AWS by clicking on a single setting check box for a lot less money.

Yes, there are some applications and platforms that simply cannot be clouded—usually because they are bound to some ancient or non-standard hardware. In these cases, I would still advise moving as quickly as possible to a hybrid environment making use of IaaS as much as possible and leaving only the “uncloudable” pieces to collocated or on-premises infrastructure. I would also say that to the extent hybrid cloud is a necessary evil in your organization, it is safe to say that your “uncloudable” applications are hindering your company’s agility and probably costing you too much.

Blue Sentry is an advanced-tier Amazon Web Services (AWS) consulting partner specializing in application and data migrations, expert managed services and virtual desktops. Blue Sentry serves clients globally, with operations in North Carolina and South Carolina.