The majority of today’s data centers were born in the 1990’s when mainframe was big in the IT industry, and 16 MB RAM was considered a benchmark in the storage space. Now, 18 years later, these facilities are ancient by the tech world’s standards and are fast becoming redundant. In this age of Big Data, building, owning, and operating your own data center – big or small – is no less complicated than owning a big hotel. Besides the ongoing running costs, continuous maintenance and upkeep add to your expenditure. You cannot just afford to cut corners in this area as failing a timely upgrade may affect the data center’s performance, subsequently putting your organization at risk. For these reasons, many enterprises are choosing to house their servers and networking equipment in colocation centers, a facility maintained and leased by third-party providers.
What does a colocation center offer?
Besides keeping your business-critical data safe, a colocation model also helps you save big on capital expenditure. The assurance of reliable performance and the promise of redundancy are driving more and more companies to outsource their data center operations to a third-party colocation facility. An outsourced data center model also lets you focus on your core business. Moreover, colocation offers you the complete flexibility of scaling your IT assets according to your business growth. These facilities also offer you better physical security than privately-owned data centers. Thus, making a choice between owning a data center and housing your data assets in a third-party run facility is easy. But the difficulties arise when it comes to choosing the right colocation service providers. With top-tier data centers hardly differing from each other with respect to their infrastructure and security, the choice becomes tough. However, with a proper analysis of your business needs and goals, it becomes easy to find a colocation provider that is appropriate for you.
The cost of researching colocation providers can be substantial. But if you make a wrong choice, and decide to opt out later, the cost of changing can exceed the cost of joining the facility. Therefore, before signing a contract with just about any provider, you will have to perform extensive research. We have made a list of a few criteria that you should keep in mind while selecting your colocation partner:
Analyze Your Requirements
At the initial stage of your decision-making process, you should focus on a few typical questions. Consider how efficient the day to day operation of your chosen data center is, whether they have a foolproof maintenance plan, what the pattern of their clientele is like, and if connecting to your colocation neighbors can boost your business growth, and so on.
Besides, determine your data storage requirements; ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your business strategy? Are you considering a move to the cloud? Do you want to embrace a high-density environment using managed services?
- Do you have a clear picture of your IT requirements? For example, do you need to replicate and/or archive your data? How big a colocation partner you need depends on your data replicating/ archiving needs.
- What about your growth plan? You must select a colocation provider that can help you scale and expand your footprint in different directions in the future.
Additionally, look for the following features in a data center provider:
Always partner with carrier-neutral colocation providers to ensure redundancy. Being serviced by multiple network carriers ensures round-the-clock connectivity within the facility. Multiple carrier options not only allow for a competitive pricing situation but also enable you to incorporate a redundant network design. However, it is also important to consider how many network and telecommunication providers operate within the facility. If there are too many, there might be issues relating to cross-connections. Better avoid these types of services. Also, ask about the redundancy associated with the routing to and within the facility.
More floor space doesn’t necessarily mean a better data center. What you should be looking for is accommodating the same numbers of equipment in a smaller space. According to Forsythe analysis, the use of consolidated cabinets can bring down the non-recurring costs (NRC) by approximately $10,000, and monthly recurring costs (MRC) by $3,000.
In the data center space, ‘lights out’ facilities are becoming increasingly popular. These sites refer to those centers that are located away from the natural disaster prone areas. These colocation sites are believed to be the most risk-adverse and cost-effective options. However, before choosing such a facility, think how far you want your data center to be from your office. Remember, the farther you are from your data center, the higher is your networking expenditure. On the other hand, having a data center close to the workplace will help you respond to emergencies better. If you are using a replication data center, it should be within a 50 to 100-mile perimeter from your primary data center.
Excellent Physical Security
Your chosen data center must have multiple levels of physical security both inside and outside the facility. Before signing the contract, make sure that large areas are under camera surveillance.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans
Your chosen data center must have sufficient power, cooling, and networking backups to allow you to remain up-and-running during outages. It is better to work with a provider that lets its client’s technical team use its workspace for disaster recovery testing and declaration.
Adherence to Compliance
Verify a provider’s credentials with the Uptime Institute to ensure that your chosen colocation facility is SSAE 16 compliant. Before hiring them, also make sure that the vendor supports third-party audits at no additional cost.
Moving to a colocation facility can help you cut your operating costs while ensuring the security of your data assets. However, it is essential for you to choose the right collocation providers that will help you scale your IT infrastructure over time. We are sure our advice will rightly prepare you for this important decision.