When you’re choosing a colocation provider, you need to think about a lot more than just the location. Sure, location is important. You’ll need to be able to access the data centre fairly regularly, so it’s helpful if your provider is commuting distance for your technical engineers - although a decent data centre provider should offer a remote hands service, making location less of a deal breaker - but there are other points to consider when you make the decision on which colocation provider is right for you.
What is colocation?
Colocation (also known as colo) is when you put your equipment - servers, storage, switches, software - into somebody else’s data centre. You provide the kit, they provide the space, power, rack and connectivity. That’s usually where the provider’s involvement ends. Upgrades, monitoring and backups will be handled by you and be the responsibility of your IT team, while the data centre provider concentrates on keeping the lights on, and the buildings secure and connected. Basically, you’re renting space in a data centre.
So why would a business choose colocation? What are the benefits? Well powering and cooling servers is expensive. With colo, you’re using the data centre’s power, at a much lower cost due to economies of scale. Data centres give you access to a wide range of connectivity options offering both resilience and competitive choice, so ultimately you’ll have increased availability compared to an on-premise set up. You still maintain complete control of your hardware and network, but with a reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) compared to on-premise.
So other than location, what else do you need to think about when choosing a colocation data centre?
We’ve talked about access from a location perspective, but check whether the data centre will be accessible to your engineers at the times they need it. Will they need to make appointments in advance, will access be available out of hours - evenings, overnight and weekends - without an appointment in emergency situations? What about bank holidays? Are there any restrictions on access which might impact your team’s ability to maintain your network?
In a world of increasing threats to digital data, this is probably one of the biggest decision points when choosing a colocation provider. Your colo provider will be responsible for keeping your data physically secure, so it’s critical that whichever data centre you choose takes appropriate measures to protect itself. Look for a facility that goes above and beyond. From the obvious perimeter fences, access cards and security guards, to the higher levels of security and access control such as mantraps, virtual tripwires, SOCs (Security and Operations Control Centres) and links to police control centres. If compliance is a requirement, check that your data centre provider is ISO accredited.
Connectivity is king, and a data centre is only as good as its connectivity. Some data centres are carrier neutral, which will give you both choice and resilience. TeleData is carrier neutral, with multiple carriers offering diverse points of entry plus dark fibre availability. We also offer direct connections to major Manchester and London data centres, giving customers a broad range of options and a wide reaching, robust connectivity network.
We’ll start by talking about power - but resilience covers a wide range of eventualities which need to be considered. It’s the data centre provider’s job to keep the lights on, so you need to make sure you’re happy with their procedures for keeping the facility running in the event of a power outage. Power outages simply cannot happen in a data centre, but they do happen, so what processes are in place to make sure that the cogs keep whirring? Ask about UPS, backup generators, battery storage options and be absolutely certain that you’re confident that your colocation provider will not suffer an unexpected power down.
The same goes for other events and disasters - floods, fires, attempted break-ins and anything in between. What has your provider done to pre-empt these situations and therefore, provide contingencies in case the worst happens?
Choosing a colocation provider is a big decision for any business, and if you’re going to be tied into lengthy contracts, you need to make sure your decision is a good one. Not all data centres are created equal, but what’s important is that the one you choose meets the needs of you and your customers, hits your SLAs and offers the right level of resilience, at the right price.