Is a cloud a data center? Is a data center a cloud? – Are they similar or as different as chalk and cheese? Most people tend to think that a data center and cloud are one and the same thing and both the terms could be used interchangeably. There are significant differences between the two and the two computing systems share a common thread only in in that they both store data. Actually it is not too difficult to comprehend the basic difference between the two. 

Cloud is an off-premise form of computing that stores data on remote servers and make them available through a public network like Internet. Data center on the other hand are on-premise central repositories that houses hardware for storing all business critical data of an organization. In case of cloud services, data storage is outsourced to a third party service provider who for a certain fees carries out all the maintenance work apart from providing regular updates and backup. Data center on the hand are built within office premises and the organizations running and managing them have their own IT team to take care of it. 

One important thing to note here is that only data centers can hold physical servers that store data. Service providers have their own data centers spread across multiple geographical locations. This ensures higher degrees of reliability as a failure of one data center owing to one reason or another does not impact the overall level of service provided.

Data center or cloud services - what to opt for?

Data centers are ideal solution for organizations that need a customised, dedicated system that gives them full control over their sensitive business data and equipment. An organization has the sole control of its data center and as such they are more suitable for organizations that run many different types of applications and complex workload. The primary drawback though, of data center is that it has limited capacity. It can store only a limited amount of data making it obligatory to purchase additional hardware and find additional space for storing   equipment that is required to store humongous amount of data that is being generated.

In contrast, cloud storage is highly scalable meaning the service provider, depending upon the plan and certain other factors, can offer you unlimited storage. On the fillip side, you are unlikely to have as much control as you would really like since a third party is managing the system beyond your eyesight. 

Data center and cloud - which offers better security?

Because the cloud is an external form of computing, it may be less secure or take more work to secure than a data center. This is unlike data center where all your mission critical data remains within your eyesight and you take care of your own security. A data center is also physically connected to a local network, which makes it significantly easier on your part to restrict its access to only people with approved credentials. The cloud, however, is accessible to anyone with proper credentials and an Internet connection. This makes your data vulnerable to external prying and unauthorised access by creating a wide array of entry and exit points.