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Colocation Data Center Benefits

If you’re running any kind of company today, you are depending on your servers and other power-hungry IT equipment components to be running reliably—including your company’s software applications, web/network traffic, email, and file storage.  Whether you’re a sole proprietor, small startup, or larger, well-established enterprise, you have a few options.

One possibility is to keep all your equipment on site, inside an IT closet or dedicated space in your building. In that case, you could be losing a lot of valuable space, and you’ll have to stay on top of cooling and maintenance requirements. Depending on the magnitude of your needs, a dedicated on-site or on-call team devoted to server upkeep and IT will probably be required. That can get expensive and the ability to scale up past a certain point will be limited. 

Another option is to offload your heavy server work to cloud-based providers. Because these third-party providers handle the maintenance and software upkeep tasks, your day-to-day operations are simpler. 

One downside of cloud computing is that you don’t have control over the remote servers you’re using. So if something goes wrong, you have to trust that your cloud provider will handle the issue without any negative impacts on your business. 

Last but certainly not least, you have the option of renting space within a colocation facility. “Colo,” for short, is a “best of both worlds” approach that combines the security of owning your own IT racks and equipment, with the optional convenience of having their dedicated IT staff available to take care of those servers at all times. The colo facility can also handle your enterprise’s demands for power and bandwidth—often times better and more efficiently than you can do on your own. 

Businesses that operate their own servers every day are likely familiar with the first two options. Each option—hosting your own servers or putting all your server operations into the cloud, has benefits and drawbacks. Choosing one over the other may always feel like a bit of a compromise. 

Shifting to a colocation approach might be just the answer for you. Because colo has so many benefits—and, with enough shopping around for your perfect fit, you can often offset the drawbacks—it’s an option that might mesh well with your plans. 

Here are some of the benefits of renting space in a colocation facility versus locally storing servers or using third-party cloud servers. 

Maintenance

Since we’ve mentioned maintenance and upkeep a few times already, let’s discuss why this is such a huge benefit of colocation. 

Let’s say you’re in the healthcare industry. When you house your servers and network equipment on-premise, you are fully responsible for monitoring your systems for issues, addressing performance and/or security concerns, updating software, checking for new patch releases, and everything else your servers need to run optimally. You will need a substantial IT team, and a good amount of climate-controlled space, dedicated to this part of your IT operations. 

With colocation, however, your servers are usually under the care of the facility’s staff. They handle all the monitoring, patching, and other tasks, so your employees don’t have to worry about any of it. Instead of having the overhead of an expanded IT team to manage all your servers, you can keep a minimal compliment onsite at your facility for designing and planning your IT systems, coordinating with the colocation’s staff, and assisting the professionals you’ve hired to heal patients and save lives with their specific IT issues.

In addition to regular maintenance, having access to the skilled IT team in a colocation facility managing your servers can be a great benefit if something goes wrong. If you ever notice a problem, you can pick up the phone and receive expert assistance in no time, rather than trying to sort out the problem for yourself. 

This eliminates hours spent hunting for a problem you’re not sure how to solve. If unplanned downtime would be a disaster for your company, it would be a good idea to shop around for a colo facility that provides 24/7/365 assistance. 

Security

When the majority of your IT equipment is in your building, keeping out those who shouldn’t have access to your server room and data is a serious and difficult task. This is especially true for healthcare facilities and other organizations that must guarantee complete privacy for their patients or clients. 

Even if you place your equipment inside a locked room and use security cameras to keep an eye on things, it’s still unlikely that you’d reach the same level of physical security you can expect from a colocation facility, as they typically employ full-time security guards, biometric access, and other measures such as mantrap doors and blast resistant windows. 

Unlike your business, which has goals and operations that exist entirely outside the realm of managing a data center, colos focus exclusively on keeping their clients’ precious assets safe, secure, and locked away from unwanted access. 

In fact, you can find colocation data centers that comply with HIPAA and HITECH regulations, so you are assured that your patients’ or customers’ private data will be safe. Most colo facilities will, at the very least, keep your cabinets securely locked with advanced combination locks. If physical security is a major concern for your servers, be sure to inquire about the various security options as you choose a colo data center. 

Physical security isn’t the only concern when you’re deciding where to store your precious data. Colocation data centers typically offer top-of-the-line options for network security, and they stay on top of all security updates, new firewall releases, and event monitoring to make sure no attackers can gain digital access to your system. 

Scalability

The goal of nearly every private business is to achieve growth. From the smallest startup to the largest enterprise, every business owner wants to be able to improve operations, increase efficiency, and attract more customers. Even healthcare facilities need to be able to scale in response to demand, as the COVID-19 pandemic proved.

One of the best benefits of colocation is that you can scale up or down easily, whenever you want to. You’re simply renting the cabinet space and the IT staff. There’s no need to pay for an expansion onto your building, buy cabinets or other supportive infrastructure, or shop around for a cloud provider who will allow you to scale up or down as needed. You shouldn’t have to pay top dollar prices to reserve high-level services just to make sure they will be available when you need them. 

This means you can funnel your funds into more important endeavors, such as investing in developing future products or improving service, rather than using it to buy infrastructure or cloud storage and computational power you don’t need right away. 

Top-tier data centers offer anything from one cabinet to several megawatts of capacity, so you’ll be covered as your needs change. If you anticipate needing high-density availability for a tight timeline or a particularly demanding project, you might want to shop around for a colo center that can work with your exact needs. 

If your company needs hyperscale or enterprise capacity, you might think colo is not an option. However, some of the nation’s top-tier colo facilities do indeed offer hyperscale connectivity to support even the largest demands. 

With some facilities, you can even scale your service payment plan. This means you can change from hourly to monthly reservations, or vice versa, depending on your upcoming schedule and computing needs. 

Reliability

What happens if demand for data storage or computational power suddenly increases, but you don’t have the infrastructure in place to support the spike? Your whole system could go down, and your services could be interrupted until the problem is fixed. 

This is troublesome enough when you’ve got potential income and customer loyalty on the line, but it’s a whole different matter if a healthcare provider’s systems crash when patients need lifesaving care. 

A colocation data center will have redundant power, cooling, and network systems that prevent as much downtime as possible, ensuring that your critical operations stay online even when something in the primary system goes awry. 

Performance

Minimizing downtime is one thing, but it’s the everyday performance that makes a difference for many companies. 

While you may be able to generate enough power, cooling, and bandwidth to keep your system running decently most of the time, you probably won’t be able to match the performance you’ll get from a colocation facility that has invested heavily in making sure each component operates at peak levels. 

Colo data centers use air filtration to minimize dust and other harmful particles, tweak cooling setups to reach optimal temperatures, and closely monitor conditions to make sure everything is running as smoothly and efficiently as it should be. 

Additionally, colocation data centers are likely to have far higher network speeds, greater bandwidth, and more options for internet service providers than the average business. When you switch from hosting your own servers over to renting space in a colo facility, you’ll probably notice a significant and immediate boost in speed and performance. 

Data Backups

Even the most reliable systems can’t prevent every malfunction. Sooner or later, a natural disaster, a data breach, or a corrupted storage drive is bound to throw a wrench into your operations. 

If you’re operating servers on your own, you are in charge of making sure all your data is safely backed up in duplicate or even triplicate. This means purchasing and finding space to install two or even three times the number of servers you might think you need initially. For small to medium-sized businesses, the cost of putting together sufficient data backups can be quite expensive. Sadly, businesses that are tempted to forgo a more expensive robust backup system will have to face the reality that all their data is lost if a disaster ever does happen. 

In a colocation facility, on the other hand, your data will be backed up by default on the data center’s redundant storage systems, and those backups will be updated and managed by the center’s IT staff. Consider it your insurance policy against unforeseen catastrophic events. 

It’s Easier To Move Than You’d Think

You may be interested in switching to a colocation data center, but if you’ve already got your equipment stored in your own building, the thought of making the move might be intimidating. Just the thought of lugging around all the heavy equipment is enough to make some people hesitate to change their arrangement. 

However, moving your equipment to a new facility (or even rearranging it inside your own building) doesn’t have to cause a massive headache. You can rent or purchase a data center lift to get the job done safely and efficiently. 

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