Data centre management is crucial to the way any business operates.

For many years, CEOs had a simple choice when it came to servers: On Premises vs Cloud.

Both have obvious attractions. But there’s more than just these two options for companies of all sizes to consider when it comes to how they handle their IT technology.

On-Premises Vs Cloud

On-Premises refers to private data centres that companies operate and maintain ‘in-house’.

Known widely as “On-Prem”, the key benefit is the control it offers. Hosting software on site means businesses can decide exactly what systems they want and where they are located, giving flexibility to create an ad-hoc system that exactly matches their needs.

The management of data in-house and the ability to access information when internet access is unavailable provides obvious business continuity benefits.

The most obvious drawback is cost. Fees associated with one-off installation, maintenance and upgrades do add up. With electricity costs, physical floorspace, cooling equipment and power delivery tools thrown into the mix, for larger firms with big demands, this can get quite expensive.

There can also be a lack of flexibility with On-Prem servers. For firms going through transformation or growth, investment in IT is easily overlooked – with the risk that the back office does not keep pace with day-to-day operations.

A viable alternative is Cloud, which involves renting virtual server space which is hosted on the internet and accessed remotely.

Cloud solutions are usually more expensive than in-house servers. But the pay-as-you-go offer makes it ideal for smaller companies who may not want to invest in IT costs during their early development.

The ability for Cloud users to scale up and scale down relatively quickly is ideal for firms about to embark on rapid transformation. It also suits those with a mobile or flexible workforce as it can be accessed anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.

With remote automated backups as regularly as every 15 minutes, the risk of losing data is low.

Cloud is also easy to use – with an Aberdeen Group study showing 71 percent of those businesses who switched experiencing easier application management.

Another upside is that there is a very low risk of downtime, with companies providing clear 99% uptime guarantees. But, with a third party holding all company data, any requirement to access crucial information could take a long time and end up in additional charges.

A further limitation of cloud is that it is entirely reliant on the internet, which means a lack of WiFi can cause headaches for employees.

Some larger businesses may find the cloud does not offer enough bandwidth to support the number of applications and amount of data moving through the computing environment. There’s always options to increase this – but it does come at a cost and is dependent on availability.

The Third Way: Colocation

The debate over server management has progressed from On-Premises vs Cloud. There is a third way: Colocation.

Colocation sees companies pay a third party to provide storage in their data centre for their servers and devices. It differs from the cloud because the company owns the devices being used.

The biggest benefit is that it allows businesses to retain autonomy over the server hardware which they use to store data and host apps. But, the use of data centres such as those offered by Telehouse give 24/7 support and improved bandwidth, higher levels of security and more resilient power and cooling at a fraction of the in-house outlay.

Flexibility is also a draw, regardless of the size of firm. Small businesses can obtain features of a large IT department without the capital investment while medium to large sized enterprises can expand their capacity relatively quickly and smoothly.

Go Hybrid

All of the above systems have clear pros and cons. But it is not as simple as picking one that suits you best. There is another way.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, tech’s future may lie in the “fog”. In other words, On-Prem, cloud and colocation solutions are great. But businesses do not have to choose just one of these to meet 100% of their needs.

A hybrid server model gives clients the opportunity to pick what works for them and combine it into an ad-hoc solution to meet their demands.

For instance, an in-house server hardware can be suitable for companies that do not want to rely on the internet to hold their secure data. But, to give users a high degree of uptime, cloud can be incorporated. And when there is a need to step-up capability, the services of a secure colocation data centre provide peace of mind and top-of-the-range support.

So whatever a company’s priority may be, going hybrid gives consumers the chance to pick the IT server solution that is right for them.