What Colocation Is and Why It May Be Just What You Need

If a business needs its own data center, they have large amounts of critical data to store and manage, and they likely also have business-critical applications and services to support. 

This means that the data center must offer top-notch levels of availability, reliability, and performance; otherwise, it will be a liability to the bottom line. Taking the data center in-house could provide a high degree of control over the infrastructure and the ability to customize hardware and software configurations for optimal performance. 

But the advantages of an in-house data center come at relatively high upfront and recurring costs. It must be built, powered, cooled, maintained, and meticulously monitored by IT, facilities, and security employees. Those costs and tasks are where data center colocation shines. 

Data Center Colocation Defined

Also known as “colo” and “colo hosting,” data center colocation is when a business rents space from a data center facility (or colocation provider) to house its networking equipment, storage devices, servers, and other IT infrastructure.

The colocation provider takes care of physical infrastructure (such as power, cooling, connectivity, security, and data center monitoring systems) while the business manages and maintains its own IT infrastructure.

While this still leaves a significant piece of the IT puzzle for the business to solve, a good colocation provider should offer a caliber of physical infrastructure that would be cost-prohibitive for many businesses to provide on their own. This means the business should get better uptime, redundancy, and security at a reduced cost compared to an in-house data center.

Diving Deeper Into the Advantages of Colocation

Lower Capital and Operational Expenses

Data center colocation could be compared to renting office space instead of constructing your own office building. Not only do you avoid construction costs, but you share many of the recurring expenditures as well.

With an in-house data center, you are solely responsible for everything, from materials and tools for maintenance to the salaries of employees who work at the data center. But with colocation, you not only avoid being involved in constructing, owning, and running a data center, but you also share the operational expenses with the other businesses renting space at the same data center facility.

Scalability with Colocation

With an in-house data center, growth means construction, purchasing new IT equipment, and potentially upgrading the cooling, connectivity, and security infrastructure. Growth could even require building an additional data center at a certain point. If business contracts in the future, the money spent on expansion is not only gone, but operational expenditures may simply be greater going forward, whether the IT capacity is used or not.  

With data center colocation, growth is as easy as renting more space. Likewise, a business could easily scale back by negotiating its terms with the data center facility or by waiting for its contract to expire.

Reliability and Security

High-quality colocation facilities have redundant power supplies, backups, cooling systems, and internet connections. This infrastructure level is beyond the typical in-house data center and provides excellent protection against downtime due to various potentialities. Further, high-quality colocation facilities provide top-of-the-line security measures, including biometrics, advanced alarm systems, and 24/7 surveillance, which can be cost-prohibitive for many businesses to provide on their own.

Freedom to Focus on Your Business

By colocating in a data center facility, a business avoids having to invest in and manage IT technicians, facilities personnel, and security guards. While the business renting space is still responsible for its own IT infrastructure, high-quality data centers have experts on staff who can provide assistance for a number of issues, such as design problems and outages.

What Are the Disadvantages of Colocation?

While colocation provides a host of financial and operational advantages, it is not necessarily the best solution for every organization. The main disadvantages are limits to visibility and customizability. 

In terms of visibility, the business has to trust that the data center facility is on top of its job in monitoring, maintaining, and securing the physical infrastructure. In terms of customizability, data center facilities can only allow so much customization to their services and space, which could potentially limit the hardware and software configurations that a business can apply to its IT infrastructure. For businesses with highly specific IT needs or regulatory requirements, this could be a major problem to work around.

Why You Should Consult with an Expert Before Making a Decision

In today’s digital age, a company’s data is its lifeblood. The decision to go in-house or a data center facility could tremendously impact the organization’s future. Compliance concerns, security needs, uptime requirements, geographical concerns, and network connectivity are just a few of the details you’ll need to work out to make an informed choice. 

IPC Tech has more than 40 years of experience solving critical IT challenges.

We can evaluate your business’s unique needs to be sure that your data is properly managed now and in the future. Get more information on our colocation services here.