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How to Choose the Right Server Colocation Solution

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How to Choose the Right Server Colocation Solution

Server colocation is sort of like a bank for your IT infrastructure.

When you deposit money into a checking or savings account, you're entrusting an external partner with the protection of something that you still own. The relationship is mutually beneficial: The financial institution can lend and invest the funds you've given them, while you get the convenience of on-demand access via ATMs, debit cards, checks and ACH transfers. It's much more flexible than keeping cash in a mattress.

Similarly, with colocation services, you're holding on to your own assets while benefiting from the expertise of the managed services provider (MSP) overseeing them. In exchange for your business, the MSP offers the space and built-redundancies (e.g., 24/7 monitoring and disaster planning) to ensure smooth operation of your infrastructure.

What you gain by taking the colocation route:

Colocation is often a viable alternative to both on-premises setups and cloud servers and a good choice for many SMBs that want scalable IT operations without having to oversee the necessary space, electricity and physical security on their own. For the right customer, the benefits of colocation services are wide-reaching and include:

  • Redundant power supply – Colocation sites gives you reliable power that contributes to superior uptime, meaning fewer opportunities lost to outages.
  • Robust security – A colo facility will have top-notch protections against break-ins and unauthorized access and also be hardened against disasters like tornadoes.
  • Real scalability – With power, 24/7 monitoring and network connectivity from the colocation provider, you can scale your business beyond what would've been feasible on-prem.
  • MSP expertise – Operating a data center around the clock is not a core competency for most organizations, whereas MSP live and breathe it.
  • Cost efficiencies – A colocation plan can turn CAPEX that would've gone toward building your own data center into the more flexible OPEX of renting the needed space.

At the same time, colocation should be pursued in the knowledge that it has distinctive drawbacks, too, such as needing close proximity between a colo provider's sites and your offices and still having to budget for equipment purchases. Deciding if and how to go forward with colocation can be a confusing process – which is why we've put together this guide for simplifying the journey.


Four questions to ask when considering colocation:

Where should you start with colocation? Here's what to ask yourself when evaluating options:

1. Is colocation a better fit for me than cloud hosting?

There's a chance colocation isn't the optimal choice for your business, given the overlapping features and outright advantages of cloud servers in many instances. Cloud comes with the monitoring and resiliency of colocation, in addition to many other provider-managed services – such as software and hardware updates – that would still be your responsibilities under a colo arrangement.

However, cloud has its own set of potential issues, including less control over data and opaque and rigid vendor agreements. Its predominantly OPEX structure also means minimal upfront expense, but potentially higher costs in the long run.

Choosing between the two requires close consideration of how much you can allocate for staffing, real estate and IT upgrades. Assessing the value and expected life of your current assets is similarly important, since it might make sense to colocate instead of replace, with a cloud-based solution, equipment that is in no imminent danger of becoming obsolete.

2. What space allotments will my colocation provider allow?

Not all colo sites and MSPs are the same, so it's good to set clear upfront requirements for space and networking. For space, this comes down to how many rack/cage units (sometimes called U's for short) you'll need in the provider's facility.

Since colocation is often associated with large enterprise IT operations, it's common for providers to set minimums for how much floor space you buy, even if you don't need that much room. In contrast, Telesystem allows colocation allotments of even 1U, meaning you can pay for only what your business actually requires.

3. What network infrastructures and options are in place?

A colocation facility should make it easy and cost-effective for you to connect your equipment to the outside world. Look for sites that provide multiple connectivity options and also keep an eye on the technical specifications of their underlying infrastructure.

For example, Telesystem DC-1 includes fully meshed and redundant 10Gb switches, routers and links for all networking. That ensures top-notch performance for your applications and services.

4. Where are the colocation data centers located?

The old real estate cliche about "location, location, location" determining a property's value also applies to colocation facilities. While it's far from the only consideration, it's a big one because a colo site is essentially another branch office for your business.

In other words, you want a spot that's safe from natural disasters, economical to connect to your other offices and practical to visit in a pinch. Many colo sites are located inland, in climates without undue risk from flooding or tropical storms/hurricanes, and specifically designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions.

Telesystem offers colocation and cloud servers from our secure and resilient data centers. Reach out to our team to learn more about how we can serve your organization.


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