The usefulness of both cloud and colocation services has increased in recent years. As more companies make the shift from individual servers to networked systems, they are looking for solutions for their computing needs, whether it's through virtualized servers in a data center or cloud computing services. No matter the case, being able to distinguish between colocation and cloud computing is crucial when choosing services for hosting workloads. Some companies even choose both hybrid cloud and colocation solutions.

What are the benefits of colocation?
Colocation services offer companies the option to move workloads off-premise to be managed in a data center environment instead of individual company servers. According to Data Center Knowledge contributor Rowland Kinch, one important advantage that colocation offers is the maximization of business potential. What this means is that resources are better utilized when computing needs are managed by an off-premises provider. Continual server maintenance becomes a thing of the past, allowing IT staff to focus their resources and time on strengthening core business functions.

Another important advantage of utilizing data center space is that companies remain in charge of their own infrastructure. Rented colocation space allows companies to save money in storage fees, because their data is on their own servers, according to Kinch. Companies that invest in colocation services may also reduce their carbon footprint, due to colocation providers being able to research greener technologies and apply them to their data centers. Therefore, the office becomes less wasteful because you moved your servers off-premises, and the servers themselves could have a decreased impact on the environment as well.

What are the benefits of cloud computing?
Cloud computing, like colocation, can help companies by providing a virtual private cloud that hosts and analyzes important information. The cloud provides added control, flexibility and scalability – when your business grows, your cloud solution can grow with it. Companies that invest in IaaS cloud computing services also see important decreases in the cost required in server upkeep and security.

For those interested in going (and staying) green, cloud services are another option. Though some are concerned about the energy usage of huge data centers, cloud adoption is generally seen as more sustainable. Forbes contributor Joe McKendrick cited a report from the Carbon Disclosure Project, which said that by 2020, large U.S. companies utilizing cloud services can achieve an annual energy savings of $12.3 billion.

Putting the two together
Enterprises are beginning to realize the benefits of combining their colocation solutions with cloud computing services. In the push for cloud adoption and in helping enterprises understand the difference between colocation and cloud managed services, it's crucial to underline the advantages of combining the two.

"[O]rganizations still see the cloud as storage in data centers in a rack somewhere else," said William Rabie in an article for CloudTech. "Once we get over this mindset we can start thinking about bimodal IT and designing apps for the cloud. Cloud users are slowly changing as we move to a mobile workforce."

There may come a time when all data is funneled through the cloud. In fact, a 2014 report from Cisco projected that by 2018, 78 percent of computing will be done in the cloud, and that number will no doubt continue to rise. Still, Rabie stated, whether we see that time will be dependent on how safe managers feel their data is within the cloud.

"[M]obility and flexibility are key when moving to the cloud, and CIOs struggle with the idea of moving all services to a cloud-based system, which could be stalling cloud adoption," Rabie said.

However, business leaders can overcome this initial trepidation by working to understand the benefits of employing a hybrid system of both cloud computing and colocation services.