In Chris McLean’s article titled ‘Is Colocation Right for Your Business?’ he shares that IT professionals are stretching resources with the hopes of accomplishing more with shrinking budgets. I would agree that if this resonates with you, colocation (colo) is a possible fit for your business. In today’s uncertain economy, enterprises do not have the resources and man power to invest in the technologies, staff and security to operate their own fully operational data center. Businesses that find themselves in need of greater security, redundancy and reliable access to data and network connectivity, colocation can meet these needs. Colocation data centers provide the needed space, security, power, cooling, and connectivity that today’s 24/7-365 businesses require to compete in the market place. The opportunity to colocate servers, storage and network gear in these secure facilities as well as having access to guaranteed connectivity is looking more and more attractive to bottom line proponents.
McLean adds, “It is important to note that not all colocation facilities are built equal.” A good example would be a regional “carrier hotel”. A carrier hotel hosts regional and international internet service providers offering enterprises carrier cross-connect choices, competitive non-proximity based pricing and unlimited bandwidth availability. These type of network environments are attractive to business customers who require low cost bandwidth options.
Additional advantages of colocation facilities are realized when benefits of scale are also utilized. The sharing of large power, mechanical systems and network infrastructure in a multi-tenant space allows cost savings to be realized on the bottom lines of colocation tenants. The access to these systems and specialized staff can provide reliability and redundancies that are difficult and expensive to obtain in typical business facilities. Working with a colocation data center can provide the confidence that the necessary resources, assets and expertise can be available to scale your IT infrastructure as your business needs continue to grow.
In contrast, IT managers should weigh the pros and cons of moving to a colocation facility. McLean shares that it is important to understand that proximity to a colo data center may be a challenge to some IT teams. Even though remote and smart hand assistance may be available, the equipment and assets are still the property and responsibility of the tenant. Travel to and from a facility may become difficult or cost prohibitive when server maintenance is required. Third party arrangements with managed service companies can often be obtained to alleviate these concerns, but these are additional costs that will need to be contemplated.
When considering colocation for your enterprise, proper planning is essential. For example, consideration of accurate measurements for data connectivity and power needs is paramount. Under estimating necessary bandwidth and power needs can lead to unplanned overage costs cutting into projected colocation savings. Be sure to converse with colo providers when calculating appropriate power and bandwidth needs preventing unexpected expense. Selecting a data center who can help plan and provide necessary power, increased security and connectivity will help realize the advantages and ensure confidence in choosing colocation as an IT solution.
If your needs require levels of privacy and security not easily met with on premise facility, some colocation data centers allow tenants to lease whole space for custom solutions. Most commonly designed for protecting sensitive data, these solutions often require specific power, cooling and security needs that may not be available in a typical multitenant space. If your needs fall into very specific requirements, it may be worth the conversation to determine if the colo provider can meet these needs.
McLean offers that colocation may or may not be right for your business. The list of questions below is a starting point for conversations when exploring colocation providers in your area.
- Does the colocation provider have adequate space to grow with you? Scale is a prominent advantage of colocation, therefore be sure the provider has the capability to meet your future space, power and connectivity needs as well as those of current and future tenants.
- Can the colo provider’s service-level-agreement (SLA) meet your expectations? Most providers offer 100% uptime, which is the industry standard. Do not agree to an SLA that you will not be content with.
- Is the provider a carrier hotel? Does the colocation data center have offerings to connect with diverse providers in their facility? Colocating your gear in a data center with plentiful cross connect options can be a huge benefit to your enterprise. Carrier hotel data centers bring significant connectivity, uptime, speed and reliability benefits.
- What are the provider’s security standards? Ensure the provider offers 24-hour technical staff and security. If there is a problem, they should available and on the clock to help. The availability and security of your assets should be paramount to the provider. Industry standards now include multi-levels of security, such as CCTV with recordings, biometric access, RFID readers, physical barriers like gating and fencing. These are non-negotiables for provider consideration.
- Does the colocation provider have sufficient power? Today’s servers and storage devices are designed to run at significant speeds and maximum capacity. This high efficiency is great for speed of access to data and information processing, but these efficiencies require significant power, maintenance and environmental cooling. It is important to understand the power and environmental constraints of the colocation provider. Look for data centers that have high wattage per square foot in their facility specs.
In conclusion, McLean says, “Colocation partners have already spent millions of dollars to provide top-of-the line technology, disaster recovery, security and reliability capabilities—features that would be financially impossible for businesses to legitimately fund on their own.” The cost advantages of sharing the high capital expenses of redundant power, complex security and diverse connectivity are features making colocation attractive to businesses of all sizes. These advantages are only beneficial if the colocation provider lives up to the current and future expectations of their tenants. Colocation is a long term investment. Weigh the pros and cons of each provider and spend the necessary time to evaluate this potential long term partner.
If your business is considering options for protecting your IT infrastructure, give RACK59 a call for a FREE colocation consultation. PH (405) 443-3667
* Source: Chris McLean “Is Colocation Right for Your Business?”