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The data center is as essential for a modern enterprise as the heart is in the human body. The everyday enterprise needs are diverse and demanding. Only data centers can provide enough computing, storage, and network resources.
Companies have been building and maintaining their personal data centers to host their websites for decades. It is just like a tradition. But like many traditions, it is also facing challenges now. They are complex and expensive structures. Businesses with finite resources cannot afford them.
So, many businesses are choosing colocation nowadays. First, they rent or lease some of the data center capacity that the colocation provider or a data center offers. Then, they access the colocation server through WAN. This article covers the factors to consider when selecting a colocation service provider. But, first, let us confirm we know what colocation means?
Colocation provides the data center level support to the customer's business. They give the client the access to the basic facilities, which include the following:
Clients shift their hardware (networking, storage, computing) in the place of a third-party data center. They pay some rent for it and save the expenses of building and operating the data center. The client is primarily responsible for operating the IT equipment. Colo providers will demand extra for this operation.
Yes, they go further when they host these more resources:
Managed colocation is the best form of colocation. The provider is bound to provide complete data center facilities. They rent you the access to things like:
In many cases, there is a huge distance between client business and colocation providers' data centers. As a result, businesses cannot afford to send their IT teams. As a result, they have to go for managed colocation services.
There are many difficulties, for example, travel expenses can be too much. Also, there can be emergencies. Some issues need immediate attention. For this, colocation providers use their IT teams as remote hands. These teams move cables, change gear configurations, and install/remove gear.
Behind every successful colocation initiative, you will find solid planning and extensive research. A usual contract typically lasts for more than five to fifteen years.
Be wise in colocation partner selection and sign the longer-term contract without worries. However, when the choice is inappropriate, even short-term contracts can be devastating. Perform your due diligence, identify your unique needs, and find the best partner.
Here are some of the common considerations:
Power density. You should know the amount of power in kilowatts or megawatts. Have open communication about it. Ask how much they can deliver and declare your power and cooling requirements. No disaster is more significant than a provider designed for 5kW per rack trying to support 10 kW per rack.
Limitations can lead to large power surcharges. It would be enough to exclude the candidate from the list.
Floor space. What about floor costs? What about rack consolidation? You have to spend time thinking about them. You should know that renting more space on the colo has no positive impact on resilience or performance. So try to reduce the requirements as it will help you cut down on the costs.
Some businesses space out the servers of other gears to manage rack power density. For instance, let us suppose the supplier can handle the increased power and density of complete racks. In that case, the client can fit more gear into a smaller data center footprint.
WAN redundancy. Here is another thing you must check is if the colocation provider is carrier neutral. Connectivity is critical. Find the provider with connectivity to network carriers at the facility. Network connectivity is something they charge for separately. So, make sure things are worth paying. Usually, telco costs are a provider's headache.
Do they claim to provide diverse network carriers? If so, do they back this offer? There should be competitive WAN pricing and redundant client connectivity?
Contract and SLA flexibility. Ask them to provide you with the primary service agreement and SLA. Your IT teams and other concerning departments should read and review it. The business and legal teams should also beware of things written there. They should carefully address the mission-critical items. It may include response times, scalability, and availability.
Get on them with table talk. Do they show flexibility required to adapt to your requirements?
Location. Before talking to the provider, brainstorm and agree on one place for the colocation site. You should also know why you have chosen that location. For instance, let us say that your website is strictly for DR. In that case, it should not be more than 100 miles from your head office. However, it should also be far enough to protect in emergencies. There are always chances of fire, hurricanes, floods, or other accidents. These threats are the primary reason we need DR sites.
It is also possible that your goal is improving your global presence. Keep the target market in your mind and find providers who can address that market well. IT teams cannot reach everywhere since the location directly affects the accessibility.
Compliance. It should go without saying. Does your provider not comply with certifications? Does that company not meet the industry-recognized data center tier levels? Even if they claim to meet or comply, can they prove it? Feel free to reject if any of the answers are no.
Security. Yes, all colocation providers ensure good safety. But it is still better to double-check things. Read their security measures. Ask your IT teams to go through them and confirm that these measures are suitable. Also, try to discuss what more you can do to strengthen the security further. For example, you may like to add client cameras.
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