How to build a successful colocation strategy

Colocation can be an ideal move for a business which wants to improve its reliability and connectivity, or wants to test the waters with data centres without fully committing to the Cloud. Yet successfully implementing a colocation strategy doesn’t just mean finding the right data centre partner – even if this is vitally important.

Instead, a successful colocation strategy requires planning, effort, and insight. Rather than just signing a contract and starting to move hardware, businesses must put steps in place to transition successfully, and to ensure that the benefits of colocation are maximised – from board level down to individuals in the IT department.


What is colocation?

Colocation is the practice of relocating your own servers to a data centre. By doing this, you gain all of the benefits of being located in a data centre without having to build the facility yourselves, while retaining control over (and ultimate responsibility for) your servers.

The degree to which the data centre will administer and maintain your servers for you will depend on the specific agreement you come to. However, as one of the principle benefits of colocation is the fact that you can access and administer the servers as if they were on your own property, your engineers will generally maintain some kind of oversight, even if the general monitoring of the hardware is delegated to data centre staff.


The benefits of colocation

Colocation doesn’t just have one benefit, but dozens. In simple terms, you benefit from the infrastructure of a data centre, and everything this implies. Building similar facilities would cost millions, far beyond the reach or necessity of most businesses. But everything you gain from this stretches beyond monetary concerns, and into the realms of expertise, attendance, and scalability.

By integrating your servers with a data centre, you gain the speed and integrity of their network connections. This means better operability, but also a level of redundancy that prevents downtime, keeping your services accessible. This comes courtesy of a redundant power supply to cover blackouts, and the flexibility to accommodate high bandwidths when needed.

Locating your servers in a data centre also provides the advantage of round-the-clock security, both of the network and physical varieties. The flexibility provided by a data centre also allows you to scale up or down (or entirely switch offerings) depending on your requirements, taking advantage of the data centre’s own servers, as well as the talent, knowledge and experience of their employees.


Building a successful colocation strategy

A successful colocation strategy relies on careful planning and good execution, both in choosing a partner and executing the transition. Goals must be defined and a data centre checklist written to avoid selecting a colocation service that is too expensive, difficult to access, or has limited scalability.

The first step in avoiding a poor colocation is for the responsible person (likely an IT Manager) to communicate with management, and reach a consensus that colocation is the best option for the business. This will include the rationale for moving hardware off site, the budget, what level of accessibility managers need, and how much hardware they plan to use over the short- and long-term. Even with additional factors that are specific to the IT department, these basic points are the foundation of any colocation strategy.

A big factor in selecting a colocation provider is the data centre’s physical location. Where a colocation facility is geographically situated affects both hardware accessibility and security. Organisations should consider data centres that are close to where end users work, but weigh this against the expense of hosting the hardware, as well as the other provisions of the data centre. A city data centre isn’t innately better than a rural one just because network infrastructure in a city is generally better, as a data centre will have its own purpose-built lines.

Although one benefit of colocation is that a third-party manages the data centre facility, some organisations need regular access to hardware for security or specific management tasks. For those companies, choosing a provider that can meet those access needs is critical, but such a requirement may mean colocation isn’t the right choice. The weather can also affect how a colocation provider runs its data centre. Some providers price contracts differently and have different language about weather-related downtime in their service-level agreements.

It should also be considered that, while organisations use their own hardware when colocating, they must put their trust in a service provider to keep everything operational and to maintain a well-kept facility. To that end, organisations must clearly outline what they hope to accomplish through a colocation strategy. The risk – and the expense – will be elevated in some senses, but decreased in others. A colocation strategy cannot be successful if it was never the right choice in the first place.

Taking the hardware selection and provider evaluation process seriously will ensure your colocation selection and strategy is an overall success. This means involving stakeholders at all levels, ensuring that everyone both equally understands and agrees with the need for colocation, and is invested in its success.

Sota offers competitive, secure and resilient rack space in our Kent data centres, providing businesses with a secure, accessible and high performance server environment. To learn more about our colocation offerings, visit our Private Colocation page, or get in touch with us today.

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