Colocation is a popular practice among small, medium, and large sized businesses to house their mission critical data and data network equipment in a data center environment. Many companies decide to colocate for various reasons like network up-time and to avoid high cost of in house storage and bandwidth. Colocation can be beneficial to businesses that have already put out the upfront expense of creating their network and server infrastructure.
Moreover, Colocation data centers are highly popular for business that already staff their IT departments. With colocation, companies are able to not only lease space in climate and humidity controlled environment with ample power and bandwidth, but they are also able to set up redundancy which otherwise may not be available in-house.
Server Colocation ranges from 1U (1Unit, abbreviated U, can accommodate one rack-mount server that is 1.75 inches tall in a cabinet and there are 42Us of total space in one cabinet) to fully customizable cage spaces (a cage can easily accommodate many cabinets or racks of servers). A typical small business uses shared cabinet space from 1U to a half cabinet, whereas a large enterprise may require multiple cabinets or cages based upon the amount of servers that they have.
Colocating differs from dedicated server hosting and managed server hosting, as the company is required to maintain their equipment either by physical presence or remote access. Data Centers are generally not responsible for anything other than maintaining power, temperature and connectivity unless contracted otherwise. With colocation , IT expenses could get costly; as businesses have to hire trained technicians and engineers to maintain and support their equipment. Businesses may also consider colocation service in order to have more control. Colocation enables them to decide which upgrades to install, when to perform backups, and how those backups are facilitated. Data Centers often offer consulting work to help businesses offload some of their IT projects which helps them save time, money and valuable resources. A Data Center’s ability to staff their facilities 24x7x365 is an irreplaceable peace of mind which helps make an IT manager’s job easier.
Why would a company consider colocating their server? Simply put, for efficiency. Housing network infrastructure in a physically secure, fully redundant facility ensures mission critical data is available 100%. Some companies opt to colocate in multiple geographical facilities to either lighten traffic load or for adding another layer of redundancy. In the event of an outage at one facility, network traffic is rerouted to another facility to ensure high availability.
Cost savings is another major consideration for businesses. The ability of data center operators to cross subsidize their intellect and massive infrastructure allows them savings to pass on to the business client. Costs associated with Server Colocation service vary depending upon geography, quality of network, redundancy and Service Level agreements. IT managers are often presented with cost effective options but one question they should seriously ask themselves is “What is my data worth?” which helps quantify cost over peace of mind.
Joe Cosmano from our Engineering department wrote a very informative piece chosen by the Disaster Recovery Journal. This article has a wealth of information for IT managers and guides them how to choose a data center . The entire article can be read here on the Disaster Recovery Journal website (www.drj.com ) . Joe explains the importance of physical security, power, connectivity and tech support. Joe has also compiled a list to help ensure physical security by site inspection of access to the building and monitoring. Joe recommends www.sans.org to obtain free listing of IT Security Resources and a free data center checklist. Most reputable facilities have SAS 70 , Type 1 or 2, certification to ensure that proper system controls have been put into place and are being followed. Power is the second most important factor in selecting a data center. Choosing a facility with redundant power backups is crucial in selecting a facility for your mission critical data. In his article, he breaks down a design for your power path to help you determine your power needs. He also explains that a redundant data center will have multiple UPS and generators.
Ultimately, choosing a data center is not the easiest task, as there are many factors that should be taken into account before you sign on the dotted line. Whether you are looking for low cost colocation or superior network up-time guarantees and technical support, remember that even the most thought through and planned out system may not be fail-proof so be prepared for any situation at hand and ensure your network and infrastructure is fully redundant and backed up.
Atlantic.Net provides world class colocation in Orlando. For more information about Orlando colocation, please visit us online at http://www.atlantic.net. You can also search on google or yahoo to see how others are defining it.