What is Colocation?

Infrastructure for networking and server equipment

How does colocation work?

Colocation is essentially outsourcing your servers & networking equipment. All of the equipment used to run the digital aspects of your business require bandwidth, cooling systems, an IP address and of course power. The idea of colocation is to take all of this ’off your hands’ so that you can focus on the important stuff. This means that instead of paying to use the server and keeping it in your office space the server will be privately owned by you and all you need to pay for is the rent to physically house the server; saving you valuable space in your office.

Why choose colocation?

There are many different reasons as to why a business might decide to colocate their services whether they have a small office space, little time to manage, require stronger security or simply looking to get better performance from their network.

One of the prime features of colocation services is security; colocation is a much safer means of storing business information because it is monitored 24/7 by a third party providing enhanced security both physically & digitally. This eliminates the risk of fire, theft or power outages having a devastating effect to the company and its data.

Colocation also offers better performance because the network has access to much stronger connectivity that can provide super-fast unlimited internet network that is carrier neutral.

Many businesses have found that colocation has been an improvement to their business, as well as reducing additional costs too.

What colocation means for your business & the Top 10 Reasons to use Data Centre Colocation

1. Enhanced Security

Colocation is a much more secure means of storing data both physically and digitally. Physically, data-centres are purposely built to store important business data therefore security has a big impact on the building itself which offers features such as regulated entry to certain parts of the building.

To ensure no one has access to this information the building is also monitored 24/7 with staff on site to protect the equipment as well as security camera surveillance.

For most businesses it simply isn't viable for an office building to have this level of security and it certainly isn't cost effective to do so.

Digitally speaking co-location offers managed IT services from professionals who are knowledgeable in this field and can define which data is sensitive and what level of restriction is required. Managed IT services also offer encryption to protect from any unauthorised attempts to access the data. Most importantly, colocation offers on-site disaster recovery so that even in the worst possible case scenario your business will never be affected from any unfortunate events. Most datacentres will also have a secondary datacentre (like ours based in Manchester) in order to avoid any chance of network failure; even our part.

2. Faster Bandwidth Speeds

Depending on the location bandwidth speed can become a major problem that has a large affect to a business & the way it runs. The mean download speed in the UK currently rests around 18.57mbps (according to Cable.co.uk) which means to get just 100mbps of bandwidth can be difficult to achieve. Datacentres on the other hand have large bandwidth pipes enabling them to receive connections from multiple providers. It has been known for offices to try improve their own bandwidth speed using a redundant line from a different provider however this can be a very expensive & ineffective 'fix' to the problem. Choosing the right datacentre to colocate to can offer you this level of performance for a much smaller cost. For example at FirstNet Data we can offer up to 80gb in order to facilitate to business needs as they grow.

3. Design and Infrastructure

Hosting servers & networking equipment in an office can be less than desirable due to the fact that the building itself isn't usually built to house all of this high-tech hardware. Choosing to co-locate outsources this to a facility purposely built with the standards required for the power, generators as well as cooling & humidity control. Without suitable cooling systems in place there is risk to data being lost which can have a minimal or catastrophic affect to the business and it's impossible to determine which. It is strongly advised that appropriate cooling systems are put in place whether the networking equipment is in-house or colocated. When you take in to consideration that co-location facilities will also offer security & technical resources there is also a considerable amount of money that can be saved so it might be worth while looking in to.

4. Cost Effective

Managing your own datacentre can quickly become a very expensive task and doesn't always live up to expectations either. Some of the things to consider to the cost of hosting your own datacentre in-house include maintenance, security, bandwidth, and any certificates you may require; all of this is additional to the cost of purchasing the equipment (generator, power & cooling systems). With all this in mind it's important to decide whether facilitating your own data centre is really worth while and is it beneficial for the business? The overall cost to host your own data centre varies largely due to all the factors that play a part to the cost from the location of the business, level of security, and bandwidth speed that is required but in most case scenarios it works out a lot less expensive to co-locate. Whether you choose to co-locate or manage your own the location needs to be reliable & secure because it's impossible to know how much you risk losing if it isn’t.

5. Support and Experience available

Choosing to colocate provides technical support 24/7 from professionals who are experts within their field and are able to quickly resolve any unforeseen issues. With desk-support, managed IT and on-site recovery businesses have the opportunity to grow & manage other aspects of the business without risking the wellbeing of the company. To have this amount of support and experience available in-house would be very costly and might not be worth the price whereas colocation services are out in pace for this specific purpose and can usually offer better performance at a much cheaper rate.

6. Risk Management

Co-location services should include a disaster recovery plan (DRP) which not only minimises any risks but can also be a legal requirement for some businesses. In this day and age the majority of businesses are constantly using servers in order to process orders, store data & take payments which is why it is so essential to always have a DRP in place even if it isn't a legal requirement for your business. The impact of hardware failure, data loss, human error and hacking or malware can be significant to businesses both large and small which is why lots of businesses are now choosing to colocate to an off-site location and use the office space as a back-up and recovery location

7. Reduced Maintenance

What lots of network providers forget to mention is the amount of maintenance that is required to run all of the hardware; businesses that decide to host their own can soon build up costs. Weekly and monthly maintenance tasks are required in order to keep the server running smoothly. Generators require regular exercise and fuel to continue as a reliable data centre. Colocation takes this responsibility away from the company which means that when replacements are needed such as UPS batteries it won’t affect profit margins as it is all already accounted for. The costs that can be saved in colocation can be used to improve or expand the hardware rather than just keeping it working.

8. Scalability

Colocation gives the flexibility for businesses to grow at their own rate without going over budget. Building & maintaining all of the hardware can be quite expensive which is why it’s better to not over-build and waste money that could be valuable investments to other aspects of the business. On the other hand it will need to be large enough to serve its purpose and depending on the business type and office size can they can sometimes end up outgrowing their space. Not only does colocation let you reclaim valuable office space but most colocation services can offer increased cloud space, power and/or bandwidth in just 24 hours. Colocation facilities should offer the options & flexibility to grow with quarter, half and full racks to be most beneficial to the business.

9. Compliance and accreditations

Lots of clients will require to see certain certificates from the businesses that hold their data. Some companies will try and overlook this but it is not advisable to do so. It’s not uncommon practice for businesses to have to prove they are protecting data in the correct manor and this can be done through audits. When looking to colocate this saves companies from managing & paying to have the right accreditations in place. Some of the accreditations to look for in a colocation facility include: ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 27018, (list rest of accreditations). Choosing to colocate also takes away the need to manage this process and gives more time to manage the business itself rather than overlook data reviews.

10. Redundancy

Colocation facilities are built with businesses best interests which is why their infrastructure includes power, cooling, bandwidth, networking, technical resources & security. For most general offices it is impossible to implement these factors to the same level of performance. Also, most colocation facilities will offer an easy migration process so that no data is lost or damaged whilst changing over.

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