Colocation is a data centre strategy that provides businesses with a hosting environment that would not be possible to replicate on premise, within a modest IT budget.
What is colocation?
Colocation is a hosting service where businesses rent hardware space in a data centre. The customer provides their own server hardware, and the provider provides an IP address, bandwidth, and power to the machines, as well as the physical building, security and cooling equipment. Space can usually be rented by the rack U, rack, cage or room.
How does colocation compare to managed hosting?
In contrast to managed hosting, colocation customers own and manage their own hardware. Customers are responsible for their own software setup and update installs, and server maintenance such as repairs or reboots should a fault occur.
With managed hosting, providers provision all hardware (or virtual machines), and manage it, for an additional fee.
Pricing also differs. With managed hosting services, you typically pay a set amount every month or year. With colocation, you often pay for a combination of the space (in rack positions or rack units) and power (in kW or Amps) that your equipment uses.
What are the advantages of colocation over on premise hosting?
- Reliability: Uninterrupted network and power access is key to business continuity. Colocation facilities offer redundancy and resilience at a level that is typically not possible for in-house setups. 100% network uptime is commonly achieved in colocation data centres, and they connect to multiple power sources, including backup generators, which would be expensive for a private data centre to implement.
- Security: Data centres have rigorous security measures in place to control access to equipment. As well as CCTV surveillance, and locks on cabinets and cages that are commonplace for in-house data centres, colocation facilities can offer 27/7 human security and biometric scanners.
- Scalability: As your business expands, you need more capacity. This is easily achievable in colocation facilities that have an abundance of rack space and bandwidth. The nature of colocation pricing also simplifies scaling on the go, as you pay your host for only what you use.
- Cost: For many businesses an on premise data centre is an inefficient option. By implementing a colocation strategy you do not need to invest in the infrastructure to house your hardware securely, with utmost performance. Through using a ‘remote hands’ add-on to your colocation service, where engineers perform server maintenance on your behalf when needed, you can also reduce the costs associated with employing a large team of your own engineers.
If you plan to move your IT infrastructure away from your premises, to a colocation facility, you should review providers based on the features listed, i.e. the reliability, security, scalability and cost of the data centre. You should additionally consider the geographical distance between your site and the data centre, for scenarios where you need to travel to your equipment.
Revising your data centre strategy may seem like a large task, but for businesses with significant investments in IT hardware, it is evidently worthwhile. Colocation offers a means to benefit from the cloud, in a state-of-the-art hosting facility, without making existing investments redundant.