Your business has grown by leaps and bounds – and now you find yourself needing additional space to house employees, equipment or materials. There’s a whole room devoted to housing your network servers and data centers that would be perfect for storage or an extra office – but where will you put the computer equipment?
Or maybe your business requires the storage of important files or documents. It’s important to keep these files in a safe place offsite, for if anything were to happen to them, such as theft or the physical destruction of your plant, you would have a major problem on your hands.
These are just a few of the reasons that companies of all sizes are turning to colocation for their network storage needs. Colocation providers provide space, equipment and bandwidth to companies who need to operate their networks offsite; contracts generally include power, cooling, security and a constant connection via the internet or telecommunications providers.
Benefits of Colocation
Whether you’re based in a small town in New England or a major city like San Diego, colocation offers a number of benefits beyond extra space and security. Companies that opt to colocate their servers often enjoy more reliable networks, faster responses when there is a problem and lower costs than those who keep their data in-house – but only if they choose the right colocation provider.
Companies considering a shift to colocated servers generally have a list of requirements, but often the decision comes down to cost. While it’s always important to keep costs in check, companies would also be well-served to consider the following factors when evaluation potential colocation facilities:
Cost. Cost is always a factor – and like anything, colocation costs vary according to how much space your use and the services you use. One of the greatest benefits of colocation is that it creates redundant systems in terms of the network, servers and bandwidth; when something goes awry, redundancy allows the problem to be fixed quickly and efficiently. However, it also costs more. When looking at providers, consider not only the physical rental costs, but how much redundancy is included in the contract to determine how much you actually need. Also consider the costs of parts and labor to set up your offsite center, costs for staffing the center and maintaining your equipment, utility fees and costs for bandwidth and connections to internet and network service providers.
Security. One of the major reasons that companies turn to colocation is the higher level of security it offers. If your data is stored offsite, if something happens to your facility, you don’t lose everything. You want to consider the physical security of the plant and the measures that it has in place, as well as, the security certifications and protocols within the data center itself. If you work with sensitive data that is governed by security and privacy laws, such as HIPPA, it’s your responsibility to follow the laws and ensure that your colocation center is in compliance as well.
Support. If you choose a colocation center that’s near your business, if something goes wrong, you can easily travel to the center to correct the problem yourself. However, if you choose a more far-flung location, hopping in the car to head to the center might not be an option. Carefully evaluate the support options (and their costs) available to you. If you are in a remote location, does the center offer hands-on technical support to correct the problem, or is service limited to a reboot? Choose a facility based on your support needs, and how the offerings fit into your budget.
There are a number of other factors to consider when evaluating colocation service providers. The contract terms and length, the connectivity options and service and the center’s power capability should all be on your list of factors to evaluate when comparing colocation providers. Every business is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all option for colocation, so set parameters that are specific to your business, and evaluate centers based on how well they meet your needs. Using these factors will help you make the right decision – and successfully move your servers and data to a secure offsite location.
Kate Ballard manages a large colocation facility on the west coast. She works with mid-sized businesses in the healthcare industry to help them design colocation packages that meet their needs and budget.