If you’re a B2B tech company, you probably won’t want much in the way of bells and whistles from your colocation partner. If you’re technically self-sufficient and intend to be hands-on with your servers and infrastructure, there’s not much you’ll gain from offers like managed services and engineers on-site 24 hours a day.
However, that’s not to say you should go with a bottom-of-the-barrel supplier, or that you should choose your colocation partner based on technical specifications alone. Instead, when you’re in discussions with a would-be provider, be sure to ask the following five questions – they’ll help you ensure you end up with a service you can rely on.
1. How exactly will you protect my data against compromised security and downtime?
Many providers will cite ISO27001 compliance and their data centre Tier classification, but don’t make the mistake of treating security and resilience as a box-ticking exercise. Try to get an idea of how their facilities are managed, as well as the quality of their on-site staff.
A big-name provider may have more accreditations than most, but that’s not to say it’ll have much in the way of leadership and practical experience on a site-by-site basis. With a smaller provider, on the other hand, all the expertise, knowledge and accountability is right there on-site. Owner-operators tend to know their facilities like the backs of their hands, which is a significant advantage for the customer in terms of operational resilience.
2. Do you work with other companies in my industry?
As a B2B tech company, you should look for a colocation partner with a proven track record in your industry. It’s a good sign that your performance and stability needs will be met, as well as that you’ll be supported from a commercial standpoint. As an example, many of our customers are IT service providers that use our Manchester colocation facility because they know we offer an auditor-friendly service for regulated firms, and will happily provide their own customers with data centre tours where required.
3. Are you financially stable?
The UK data centre landscape is changing fast, with colocation and managed service providers popping up and vanishing again on an almost daily basis. As such, be sure to ask potential colocation partners about their financial stability and how secure their revenue streams are. You don’t want your provider to disappear overnight, nor do you want to lose the personal service levels that you’ve come to enjoy and benefit from because it was swallowed up by a big-name competitor unexpectedly.
4. Is there room for my business to grow?
No data centre can offer unlimited rack space. A lot of providers will say they have room for your business to grow, but some will become less and less willing to hand it over as their own facilities fill up with other customers. In particular, if you require a private caged area and your data centre is nearing full capacity, expect your colocation partner to put a lot of restrictions on your ability to grow.
5. What’s your vision for the future?
Finally, it’s worth quizzing a potential colocation partner on their vision for the future. If you’re a forward-thinking business, for example, you may be planning to move some of your infrastructure to the cloud in the long run. It makes sense that you should be inclined to work with a provider that can assist in this move, and possibly one that can deliver a cloud hosting service from the same facility.
That way, you have a simple and readily available route into the hybrid cloud, and easy access to all the benefits that come with it.