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The benefits of server virtualization and consolidation often extend to colocation facilities, so adding tools like vSphere, Hyper-V or even XenServer can allow organizations to run multiple workloads on the same physical host. This lowers the total number of servers that a business needs to lease (or install if the client is providing its own hardware) and lowers the power and cooling charges that can accompany a colocation deal.
Compatibility is the key here, so consider the hyper-visor and workload management. This isn’t a problem when migrating Hyper-V workloads to your own servers installed in remote colocation facilities—you’re basically doing the work yourself.
But if you lease equipment from the colocation facility and it is using vSphere, you might experience problems migrating and monitoring your Hyper-V workloads. It can be very costly to convert your own virtual machines to achieve compatibility with a provider’s environment.
Another concern is workload management and monitoring. When the hardware is your own, you’ll almost certainly manage the workloads yourself remotely, though the colocation might offer management, backups or other tasks as value-added services. There’s no need to spend the extra on managed services if in-house IT staff already manages virtual machines.
If the colocation provider supplies the hardware and monitoring, you generally need not pay extra for managed services beyond initial provisioning, monitoring and data protection—typically automated tasks anyway.
Colocation providers typically offer additional services such as managed storage, backup, monitoring, security, extended/priority support, analytics and reporting. These value-added services may be available whether you lease the provider’s gear or supply your own. Some mission-critical workloads can certainly benefit from some of these services, but many secondary applications will see limited benefit.
Save monthly costs by matching services to workloads wherever possible. For instance, it might be worthwhile to protect an Exchange workload with backup, analytics and other services, but it’s rarely worth protecting test and development VMs in the same manner.
If services are offered on a “per-chassis” basis, that may affect the way that workloads are distributed. For example, important workloads may be located on one physical server receiving additional services, while secondary workloads may be grouped onto another physical server without those services.
Finally, understand the value of support, and take the time to evaluate the colocation provider’s options. Businesses can save money by forgoing extended support options, but this might prove costly for mission-critical workloads when trouble actually strikes.
Make sure that support levels are appropriate for the workloads, and then test the available support options and escalation path to verify that service works as promised. Faltering service is one of the principal reasons that colocation providers are dropped or changed over time.
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