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How colocation services benefit businesses

26th October 2015

Colocation has been adopted by many businesses as a method of accessing economies of scale and delivering more flexible ways of working. By housing servers and devices in a professional data centre, organisations benefit from constant security and state of the art facilities – features that would be financially draining if implemented in a private data centre. However, colocation is about more than simply moving the physical location of your servers, it also relates to the partnership between the business and the data centre.

Colocation services are provided by data centre operators so that customers can benefit from superior infrastructure while retaining control over their own hardware. Crucially, colocation differs from traditional hosting, where third party suppliers will own the hardware and software and lease it to customers. With colocation, the customer still owns the servers, routers and any other network hardware and, depending on the colocation provider, will still have to configure and set-up their equipment. Essentially, colocation services look to provide businesses with the autonomy to manage their own technologies, while having access to the kind of benefits that are only available in a large-scale data centre.

The benefits of colocation

The specific benefits of colocation will depend on each provider, but some common advantages include the following:

  • Access to data centre infrastructure
    Although you’ll provide your own hardware, your colocation provider will supply a number of other resources. This could be environmental control systems to ensure that servers are running at the optimal temperature or humidity, or expert advice for managing your IT systems.
  • Security
    Data centres utilise some of the most robust physical security measures possible to ensure that your applications and data remains secure. CCTV cameras, biometric scanners and alarm systems are just some of the methods employed by colocation providers.
  • Reliability

If your office is hit by a natural disaster or any other form of disruption, your servers in the data centre will not be affected. In addition, many colocation providers use monitoring services to help prevent disruptions as well as recovery and backup options, should an issue arise.

  • Scalability

Colocation is not only a great help for businesses in the present, but it is also future-proof. Business growth can be handled seamlessly by requesting an increase in space allocation from your provider. If you operate your own private data centre you may find that you need to move premises or purchase a facility that remains underutilised for long periods. With colocation, your server capacity can grow at its own pace.

  • Affordable

With colocation services it is much easier to prepare for your IT outgoings. Paying for security, maintenance and server space all under one predictable monthly cost is more manageable than monitoring your own data centre.

Colocation best practices

In order to reap the benefits of colocation, there are a number of things that businesses must be aware of. First of all, select your colocation partner wisely. Does your provider have a service level agreement (SLA) that meets all of your requirements – if not, it may be better for you to look elsewhere. Secondly, does your provider have the potential to meet your growth aims? Scalability is one of the main benefits of colocation, so it’s important to evaluate whether your partner can meet both your present and future needs.

Businesses should also understand that different providers offer varying services. Some will offer greater assistance with the set-up process (for a cost) and others will offer wholesale space for customers to adapt as they see fit. Some data centres will even allocate businesses dedicated power and security systems for particularly sensitive data. Ultimately, it is important to remember that colocation services vary from provider to provider, so IT leaders must find the service that is right for them.

At Sungard Availability Services, we provide industry certified colocation services with service level agreements of 100% for power and 99.99% for network availability. With more than 40 data centres across Europe and North America, there’s likely to be a facility close to your business.

CTOs should consider how they are currently outsourcing their IT resources and whether colocation could be a better fit for their business aims. With the kind of affordability and reliability offered by colocation, it is not surprising that many organisations are making use of this empowering service to drive their business forward.