What is a Colocation Data Center?

Colocation hosting, often shortened to “colo,” involves renting physical space, power resources, and security provisions within a data center for your own servers and equipment. Unlike typical web hosting, with colocation you own and maintain your own server hardware in a state of the art data center.

Instead of relying on your own data center, instead, you’d be relying on a colocation data center facility to store your server infrastructure. Colocation providers give access to higher bandwidth levels at a lower cost, top-tier data center security measures, and a professional environment for server equipment. This environment is meticulously designed to maintain optimal conditions for hardware—think climate control, power redundancy, and robust physical security.

See also: Colocation Pricing

Who Needs Colocation Hosting?

Wondering if colocation hosting fits your business needs? Well, if your company possesses hardware but lacks the necessary environment for it, colocation could be your one-stop solution, at a fraction of the cost of building your own data center.

Here are some common examples for businesses that can utilize colocation data centers:

  • E-commerce websites – Improved performance and better user experiences result from the dedicated resources and robust network infrastructure provided by colocation hosting.
  • Tech Startups – It enables start-ups to invest their time and resources in rapid growth, while colocation data centers handle the physical security and disaster prevention needed for their hardware.
  • Large Enterprises – When businesses generate high amounts of data and require tight regulatory compliance, colocation hosting offers security, exceptional uptime, and the control that comes with owning your servers.
  • Financial Services and Healthcare – Colocation helps industries that need enhanced data protection and encryption to maintain compliance with industry-specific regulations.
  • Gaming Services – As gaming platforms need to provide fast response times and low latency, colocation hosting ensures reliable and robust infrastructures.

The difference between Colocation Hosting and Cloud Hosting

With colocation hosting, you own and maintain your server hardware while reaping the benefits of the data center’s extensive infrastructure, including top tier security systems, powerful network connectivity, and efficient power management. You hold direct control over your physical hardware, network configurations, and software, giving you a high degree of customization. This is especially beneficial if your company has specialized hardware needs or compliance requirements.

On the other hand, cloud hosting provides a totally virtual solution. Here, all the server hardware is owned, managed, and maintained by cloud providers. You simply rent computational resources on these servers and can scale up or down as required. This flexibility can be particularly advantageous for businesses with unpredictable growth trajectories or varying resource needs. Plus, the cost structure of cloud hosting is consumption-based, meaning you only pay for the resources you use, which can lead to savings for some businesses.

Advantages of Colocation

Setting up and maintaining infrastructure can get costly when companies are in high-growth or scale-up mode. Not only do they have to worry about setting up the infrastructure, but they also have to make sure that everything is working fine after the equipment is set up. To make sure everything runs smoothly, many skilled and dedicated data center engineers are needed. Colocation hosting is an elegant solution where businesses, or colocation customers, can share a skilled and dedicated workforce to ensure the infrastructure is reliably up and running.

The extent of shared resources depends on one colocation hosting provider to another. Different managed colocation services have different security offerings, uptime, service level agreements (SLA), cost of power, location proximity, etc. Just like in the cloud landscape, you have an option to choose from a lot of providers. Similarly, you can choose from a significant number of managed colocation service providers based on several factors, including cost, location of the data center, etc.

One of the benefits of using a colocation data center is the ease of security infrastructure setup to comply with regulations and audit requirements. Some enterprise applications aren’t designed to run on multi-tenant hardware. Running specialized IT infrastructure with custom security is something that businesses can achieve when choosing a colocation facility over the cloud. The decision to colocate or not eventually comes down to business requirements. Let’s talk about who should choose colocation over the alternatives and how.

The Downsides of Colocation Hosting

While colocation hosting brings with it a host of benefits, it’s important to consider its potential downsides to ensure it aligns with your business needs. One of the biggest ones is the upfront cost. The initial investment for colocation can be substantial, encompassing hardware purchases, setup fees, and transportation costs. This might be a significant hurdle for startups or smaller businesses operating with limited capital.

Additionally, colocation involves a certain degree of physical distance from your servers. Since your equipment is housed off-site, this can lead to increased reliance on the colocation provider for handling routine maintenance and responding to emergencies, which might not be ideal for scenarios that require frequent hands-on access.

Another aspect to consider is the commitment factor. Colocation contracts often entail long-term agreements, which may not suit businesses seeking high flexibility to scale their operations quickly. There’s also a matter of limited control. While you own your hardware, the control over critical data center infrastructure, like cooling and power systems, rests with the provider. This can pose challenges for businesses with highly specific operational needs.

What Colocation Data Centers Offer

If you’re considering upgrading your business’s server infrastructure and exploring possible solutions, colocation data centers should definitely be on your radar. Here are some of the key features these data centers can offer.

  • Scalable Space and Power – As your business grows, your server requirements may also expand. Colocation facilities provide the necessary space and power to scale your infrastructure effortlessly. This flexibility allows you to adjust your resources based on current needs and avoid paying for unused capacity.
  • Greater Security – Colocation data centers are equipped with advanced security measures to safeguard your valuable hardware and data. This includes 24/7 on-site personnel, video surveillance, strict access controls, and often, advanced biometric authentication methods.
  • High-Speed Connectivity – Access to high-speed, redundant internet connections is critical for any modern business. Colocation facilities ensure that your servers are connected to multiple internet service providers for low-latency performance and minimal downtime.
  • Advanced Cooling and Power Management – Managing a server environment means ensuring optimal temperatures and power distribution. Colocation centers use cutting-edge cooling systems and advanced power management equipment to keep your hardware cool and running smoothly – reducing the risk of equipment damage, data loss, and unexpected downtime.
  • Disaster Resilience – Colocation data centers are designed to resist natural disasters and other catastrophic events. They are often located in low-risk areas and built with robust infrastructure. Features like redundant power sources, backup generators, and fire suppression protocols protect your critical data, ensuring business continuity.
  • Cost Savings – By opting for colocation hosting, you can avoid investing in expensive infrastructure, maintenance, and monitoring. Instead, you’ll benefit from shared resources and economies of scale, resulting in significant savings in both capital and operational expenditures.

How to choose a colocation provider?

When choosing a colocation provider, a business must go through many considerations like the cost and availability of floor space, cooling efficiency, power supplies, battery backup systems, size of the racks, network connectivity, network equipment, spatial organization of racks, other IT hardware, location of the colocation data center, physical security and compliance certifications, disaster recovery planning, and more.

Businesses have to consider that choosing a colocation hosting provider is a long-term decision. Moving infrastructure from one data center to another is a painful job and could come with potential downtime. For business growth and continuity, the business also has to consider the growth plans, stability, and roadmap of the colocation service provider. Moreover, significant consideration should be placed when deciding on the terms of the contract, agreeing to the SLA, and availing the best possible discounts.

Another primary consideration should be given to the location of the colocation data center. Two factors can help decide if the location of the colocation center is good for the business. First, if the colocation data centers are close to the business’s customers, it will ensure ultra-low latency and a great user experience. Second, for disaster recovery and backup retention planning, any redundant colocation data centers’ location should be at least 100 miles away from the main data center.

In the event that the business wants to send expert IT staff to look into problems, the data center should be close enough to avoid increased travel costs. Flexibility in all of these considerations usually increases the cost of the contracts. Some offerings in terms of colocation pricing might make more sense than others for a business.

Next Steps

When it comes to selecting a colocation partner, the experience and reputation of the provider are paramount. With its unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction and a proven track record for reliable and long-term colocation hosting, ServerMania is a sound choice for businesses seeking unparalleled service and peace of mind. Book a free consultation with one of our colocation experts today.