Data Center vs Cloud: Understand the difference

Rashmi Bhardwaj | Blog,Cloud & Virtualization,Storage


The terms “Data Center” and “Cloud” are frequently used terms in IT discussions. Though understood to perform the same task of storing data and provide centralized applications/compute, both differ significantly.

While a Data Center is essentially a part of on premise IT infrastructure of an organization, Cloud is an off-premise resource for data storage that is accessed over internet.


Data Center vs Cloud

Detailed differentiation between Traditional Data Center and Cloud Data Center is shared in the below table –





Infrastructure & ApplicationsDedicated to one customer or organizationShared across customers
Services modelDedicated team of the customer/organizationShared services across customers
LocationThe physical location of data center can be within or outside the organisation’s premisesCloud Data center is located off-premise in service provider location
Accessed viaDedicated and reliable WAN links like MPLS, P2P connections.Primarily accessed over unreliable Internet
SecurityMore secured and better security can be implemented based on respective companies IT policyLess Secured than traditional Data Center
Setup and upgrade timeData Center takes much longer to be provisioned and high on operational costAlmost available immediately based on subscription/payment by respective customer.
Cloud systems can be built within moments and can be de-commissioned instantly.
Implementation and operating costHigh since dedicated servers and supporting infrastructure needs to be provisioned.Low since shared applications and servers are provisioned which multiple customers leverage.
Hence the cost is shared across customers.
ScalabilityLow on scalability. Capacity expansion of Data center requires to spend the significant amount of money to match increasing workloadsCloud facility is highly scalable and quickly adapts to your business needs. Cloud offers unlimited capacity expansion based on vendor’s products and service plans.
ReliabilityData Centers are generally less reliable than Cloud Data CentersCloud servers use multiple data centers in different geographical locations with appropriate backup. This provides safety from unwarranted downtime
PerformanceTraditional Data Centers are built to handle various types of simple and complex application workloads. Hence high on application performanceCloud environment is generally a best effort based service and may not offer the performance equivalent to traditional data Center
ControlHigh control since owned and managed by company IT team or under strict control of 3rd party.Very limited control because it is owned and managed by 3rd party
ManagementCompletely performed by internal IT team.Managed and provisioned by cloud service provider

Download the comparison table: Data Center vs Cloud

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Colocation vs Cloud

Data Center Classification


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