Top Colo Considerations for Today’s IT Manager

By Adam Burnham | March 29, 2013

For IT managers looking to optimize their IT department without tying up their own resources, colocation can be the best option for their business needs. Many businesses don’t have the time and money to invest in the equipment, technology, security and staff to run a full data center and that’s okay – colocation offers a degree of hand-holding that comes with managed services, which is extremely comforting for those that want high visibility into who is doing what with their data.

Once a company begins to explore colocation options, they are immediately met with the pleasant realization that they will save time and money and experience a high level of service. When they dig even deeper upon realizing this, they are then met with the significant benefits of scale, so why isn’t collocation the answer every time?

IT operations still need to seriously consider the other implications of colocation – the considerations that impact whether that provider is truly the best matched partner for the business. Not all data centers are built the same way – they hold separate benefits and certain downsides as well. It is imperative you uphold certain expectations for your data and demand that your provider meet those standards.

You should ask the following questions of your provider—and make sure their answers all rate high in your evaluation points:

Is the partner able to scale and grow with you? Is the building large enough or maximized for existing and prospective customer growth? If the business wants to fill existing space as quickly as possibly, without consideration for their existing customers’ growth potential, they are not the partner for you.

Is the partners’ service level agreement up for the job? Most providers offer 100% uptime and you should demand nothing less.

Does your colo partner connect with a large number of network providers? Being able to connect directly to any carrier or enterprise through cross connects is an incredible benefit that not all colo providers offer. Better yet, choose a center that houses those connections. Carrier hotels truly make a difference in your connectivity, uptime, speed and reliability.

Is your colo provider up to industry security standards? Make sure they boast 24-hour technical staff and manned security, so that if something goes wrong, knowledgeable staff are on the clock. Motion-activated cameras, digital recording, and biometric access control are becoming an industry must as we rely less and less on the human eye.

Can your colo provider deal with power challenges? High-density computing is now recognized as a standard in the industry. With heavy use and a great deal of data housed in each, today’s servers are running constantly at maximum or near maximum capacity. This pushes the hardware to constantly operate at higher processing speeds and elevated temperatures, which if not monitored and prepared for can mean disaster. This requires greater temperature control, cooling capabilities and increased environmental monitoring – all which contribute to the huge amount of power used. Your provider needs to have a high wattage per square foot – so they have the power available to manage use.

Colocation partners have already spent millions of dollars to provide top-of-the line technology, disaster recovery and reliability capabilities—capabilities that you don’t have the funding or staff to replicate. It just doesn’t make financial business sense to try to. But before you bask in the joy of your colocation provider’s resources, make sure they fit the bill for your business and live up to your expectations. You need a strong partner that will treat your business as if it were their own.