Applications and services can spin up on resources in a public cloud after a disaster, or on resources in a managed colocation data center.
Neither option is distinctly better, more capable, more reliable or less expensive than the other. Both options support data recovery or, with the proper configuration, even handle failover to the provider in the event of an outage at the primary data center.
The choice between cloud and colocation providers really depends on the characteristics your disaster planning demands.
Traditional non-managed colocation providers services typically provide space, power and connectivity -- the IT organization provides the equipment, software and staff. While you rent or lease space from the colocation provider, your in-house IT expertise has full control over the disaster recovery (DR) configuration, services, monitoring and remote management. Some organizations, especially large enterprises, gravitate to this option because the business has already invested in the talent and tools needed to accomplish DR. And since the DR configuration probably won't change much once it's implemented with the colocation provider, the enterprise can establish cost-effective long-term contractual arrangements.
Hosted, or managed, colocation adds the servers, storage and networking equipment; provides the monitoring and management; and can often provide a range of managed services and related software for clients, including DR services. These services can be a useful option for midsize businesses that don't have the IT resources to implement and maintain an off-site DR deployment themselves. Ultimately, managed colocation services typically incur more costs than simple non-managed colocation resources, but those costs may actually be less expensive for the business than handling it in house. Managed colocation services can be more flexible, allowing a business to add DR services for more storage and workloads over time. The downsides are that contracts could impose minimum terms for those managed services, and there is little insight into the provider's inner workings. Know what to look for in a colocation provider, especially its distance from your main data center.
Public cloud-based DR offers the ultimate in flexibility, which can take numerous forms. This includes cloud-like disaster recovery capabilities included in some managed colocation services. It can also include the services of major public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services' redundant Elastic Compute Cloud or Simple Storage Service to craft detailed DR schemes -- ranging from simple backup storage to pilot light operations to fully functional hot standby environments for the business. Cloud services can be added or removed as desired, and businesses only pay for the resources used.
Many smaller businesses find cloud-based DR attractive because it easily accommodates rapid change and there is little, if any, long-term financial or contractual commitment to the provider. As with managed colocation, there is also little insight into the cloud provider's infrastructure.
How prepared for an outage is your colo provider?
Essential corporate DR plan checklist