What do I need to know about colocation?
Colocation is the hosting practice where the client leases a space or a storage rack that is located in a colocation facility or an offsite data center. With colocation, the client owns the server hardware and software that he places in the leased space within the data center. On the other hand, the data center, aside from providing the rack space, provides the power required to run the server, the cooling system, the security and the fire suppression system and the bandwidth. The data center has nothing to do with the management of the server but leaves everything to the client himself. What’s more, the whole data center could be housing a number of servers within their facility. It is simply like an apartment with a number of tenants who are supplied with power and water by the apartment owner.
This is the basic difference between a dedicated hosting service and colocation. While both of them rents or leases something from a provider, the client leases the server and its service in a dedicated hosting service while in a colocation, the client leases only the space but owns the server that is placed within the data center.
One good thing about colocation is that it is housed in a facility that is designed and is equipped to handle and provide the needs of the servers.
Why the need for colocation?
There are as many reasons why people chose colocation as there are servers in a colocation facility. The reasons could vary greatly and could range from the most mundane to the most valid. However, let us try to discuss the most common reasons why people need colocation. These reasons are:
- The office or the data center has become outdated and dilapidated and is in need of renovation but funds are not enough to effect the much needed work;
- The office or the present data center has become outgrown and there is a need to expand but there are no funds for constructing or expanding the facility;
- You are a new company who is just starting out and is in need of a space to place your servers but you are not yet ready to make an investment of building your own data center;
- The facilities of your data center such as the bandwidth, the cooling and the power are in need of an upgrade but you do not have the funds for it; and
- You want to place your brand new servers into a data center that is well-equipped and better protected because you want the best for your company.
What benefits and drawbacks does colocation bring?
Colocating servers brings along with it a number of advantages as well as disadvantages. Among its advantages are:
- Savings in operational costs – clients are billed and charged only for what they actually used, meaning there could be no waste in money for paying services that you do not need.
- Colocation Data centers are provided with redundant and high-speed bandwidth connection to multiple internet networks ensuring high internet connection reliability.
- Colocation facilities are better protected against outages due to the redundant power systems.
- The client is in full control of the server hardware and its software.
- You do not need to more your IT equipment even if you need to move your business to another location.
- Colocation facilities are better equipped against forced entry, unauthorized access, fire and other natural disasters and has better security arrangements, which includes card entry and round-the-clock camera monitoring.
- Colocation centers also offer to manage your hardware and software for you at an extra charge.
- However, with the benefits come the drawbacks. Some of these are:
- Colocation centers are often found in large cities and IT hubs and locating a convenient colocation center can be hard.
- Colocation is more expensive compared to dedicated hosting and even managed hosting.
- There is a constant need to travel from the office to the colocation center limiting time of physical access to the server due to time spent in travelling.
- Another limiting factor to the physical server contact is the colocation center’s service hours.
- If you move your business farther from the colocation facility, you may be forced to spend additional travel time to and from the colocation center.
- Monthly fees are subject to usage and can vary significantly.
Is colocation a good idea?
For small businesses that expect a lot of traffic, a simple dedicated hosting solution or a managed hosting service can be a very economical choice. However, for large enterprises which expect high volume of traffic, that needs a large in-house IT staff and plenty of server space, Colocating their servers could be a very good choice. Colocation could also work very well for medium-sized companies who have sizeable needs but are not yet ready to make large investments of owning a data center.