Choosing the right colocation partner for your business is no simple task. There’s a lot to think about – redundancy levels, connectivity, location. But what about the things that are easily overlooked at first, then rear their heads a little later down the line?
Things like your provider’s performance under pressure, communication and fluctuations in the quality of the service all are important, but many businesses fail to review them before it’s too late. Here, we explore them in more detail.
They aren’t prepared for downtime
All data centres are at risk of downtime. None can offer a cast-iron guarantee it’ll never happen. And, while a high level of redundancy will help to protect against outages, it’s no substitute for a provider that knows how to respond when the worst happens – something many first-time colocation customers overlook.
This is all the more significant when you consider that downtime in a state-of-the-art data centre tends to be a much more serious problem than downtime in an on-premises server room. With a lot of advanced hardware in play, some components may be bespoke or otherwise difficult to replace when faulty, and some problems may be difficult to get to the root of in the first place.
A good colocation partner will have a plan of action for every scenario. At our data centre, for example, we keep spares of all critical components on-site that we can install at a moment’s notice if the primary units fail. Many data centres don’t do this due to the extra cost, even though it can save them money in the long run – no to mention, spell the difference between a few minutes of downtime and much longer.
Your colocation partner needs to be on the ball, which you can ascertain by asking the right questions at the outset and reviewing their previous track record.
They don’t keep you in the loop
This is one of those things that your colocation partner may be able to fake at the start of your relationship, but you’ll need to verify as any failing may prove detrimental to you and your customers in the long run.
In times of crisis in particular, you’ll need your partner to be transparent about what is happening within the data centre. If there’s an unplanned outage – even for a short length of time – your contract should be written to ensure you know about it. After all, it may directly impact on your ability to deliver services to your own customers, as well as your ability to keep them up-to-date and informed about the incident.
Their finances are in poor shape
Some readers may remember the collapse of cloud hosting provider 2e2 back in 2013, which left many customers at risk of losing their data outright with no indication of whether they would ever have access to it again. Today, the story continues to serve as a cautionary tale for every business considering the use of a cloud or colocation provider: reviewing a partner’s finances is a must.
This means not only checking their business is profitable, but also ensuring their profits come from secure revenue streams that won’t dry up overnight.
Even in an age of commodity cloud services, there’s such a thing as too affordable in the data centre industry. The reality is that colocation shouldn’t be cheap, and you should be wary of providers that offer rack space at an exceptionally low rate. They may be cutting corners in the security of their facilities and the quality of their equipment, and may not stick around in the long run.
Ideally, your colocation partner should both be in good financial shape and have a sound vision for the future as the data centre market evolves. Additionally, nothing will protect you more than having a solid contingency plan to protect against all possible scenarios.