The popularity of cloud computing has led to increasing demands on servers and networks around the globe. As more people and businesses migrate to the cloud, servers face greater stresses. Companies are expected to provide tight security for cloud services, constant uptime, and reliable performance. Investing in the full IT infrastructure needed to support your business’s online activity can be prohibitively expensive, especially for small businesses.
If you want to create or expand your company’s online presence without breaking the bank, server colocation is the best option. Never heard of server colocation? You aren’t alone. The concept of server colocation is still relatively new to most companies, so we’ll explore the concept a little to offer you some peace of mind about the process.
Server Colocation Defined
Colocation is a service that allows your business to place a server in the data center of a colocation provider, using their bandwidth, power, and facility as a host site for your hardware. Your company is responsible for purchasing the server, conducting the initial setup of the hardware, and then delivering it to the colocation provider’s data center. After your server has been installed onsite, you access the server via the web just like you would with hardware and software offered from a hosting provider.
For example, if a small tech firm in Southern California couldn’t afford to expand its onsite data center to meet increased traffic on its website, colocation could provide a less expensive alternative. The company could purchase a new server and install it at a colocation facility in San Diego. The company still owns the server, but it has increased its capacity and capabilities without investing in more data center space onsite, growing its IT infrastructure, or paying more in electrical bills.
Colocation may be an unknown to some businesses, but that is changing rapidly. According to ComputerWorld, data center space used by enterprises increased 15 percent annually between 2010 2013. However, during that same time period, the amount of data center space enterprises own decreased from 70 percent to 64 percent.
Benefits of Colocation
There are a number of benefits that can be enjoyed by switching to colocation from managed hosting or dedicated hosting. Managed hosting is a service that allows a company to lease a server in an offsite data center. The server’s capacity and capabilities are reserved for the client leasing the hardware, but the hosting provider not only controls the environment, they also control the security and software management of the server.
Dedicated hosting is a similar service to managed hosting. Companies are allowed to lease a server located in an offsite data center, but there is one major difference. The client must possess the technical know-how to perform system administration and management activities via remote desktop.
Colocation puts more power in the hands of clients, while lowering the cost of increasing server space, network capacity, and performance capabilities. So what are the specific advantages of colocation?
Money is a theme that runs throughout the list of benefits that exist in server colocation. For the sake of delving deeper, let’s ignore money as an advantage. Instead, let’s focus on greater benefits. This starts with network access, stability, and capacity. Server colocation data centers offer clients access to greater bandwidth and higher speeds, with many providing access to the web via T1 lines.
Server colocation also offers protection against the unknown. Your office can lose power, lose access to the Internet, or suffer damage during a storm. If your servers are located offsite, your company’s vital services and website remain online because the colocation facility still has power and Internet access.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to colocation is the fact that your company owns the equipment and the software used on it. If you want to upgrade your server, you can do it. If you install new software or use specific software programs or security programs, you can do it. With managed hosting, you are left waiting for the provider to make these changes.
According to the Information Systems and Technology department at MIT, there certain key features that your company should look for in a server colocation provider. Reliable colocation providers offer secure locations with stable environments to house servers. Access should be strictly controlled and, ideally, operators will be present when you need to access your server at the site.
Other important features include installation assistance services, reboot and system status checks when requested, tape mounts for backup, shelf space for documentation, backup media, and spare parts for maintenance. When you search for a server colocation provider, look for these features to ensure you are partnering with a company that offers you the best in colocation services.