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Businesses adopt Colocation to address specific concerns or limitations in their own IT infrastructure. Limitations might include physical issues like inadequate power, cooling or space. Some organizations might seek lower workload latency by locating applications and data closer to a user base. And still other businesses might position remote facilities to serve as disaster recovery or business continuity sites.
But regardless of the actual factors that drive a colocation strategy, colocation can be a costly endeavor— sometimes entailing long-term contractual obligations for equipment and services. Fortunately, businesses can corral colocation expenses by understanding the major cost centers and negotiating for the most effective deals.
Colocation costs can easily spiral out of control when a business overbuys remote resources, so one of the best cost-saving strategies is to develop a clear goal for colocation before ever engaging a provider.
For example, a business deploying several key workloads to a remote region for latency reduction could easily lease several servers—perhaps even sharing an existing rack with other colocation customers—rather than insisting on a separately caged area with costly dedicated space and cooling that probably won’t be needed.
By comparison, a business seeking a completely redundant disaster recovery facility would need to arrange a comprehensive suite of space, equipment and services. Excess capacity wastes money, while inadequate capacity may result in costly service changes.
Although businesses can save money by arranging only for necessary computing resources, a careful evaluation of each prospective provider’s scalability, responsiveness and change costs is also worthwhile. For instance, a provider that insists on charging a premium for each and every service change and takes 30 days to provision any new server might not be the best choice if you’re planning to grow the colocation footprint in the near future. Service delays can be disruptive to your business plans, and change fees can add up quickly.
And don’t overlook the exit strategy. Colocation strategies can change over time, service quality can decline, costs may rise, and other concerns may necessitate finding an alternate provider or taking workloads back in- house. Understand the processes and costs involved in an eventual migration, and factor them into the cost evaluation for each prospective provider.
One director of infrastructure with a major financial company said that his organization evaluated and decided against colocation because the anticipated cost to migrate to another provider averaged $10,000 to $15,000 per application, and the loss of specific IP port control posed an unacceptable security risk.
The colocation provider’s physical location will affect the costs of resources and services. If your business is in a major metropolitan area and you decide to host your gear in the same area, chances are you’ll be paying a premium for space and power just to have the infrastructure close to you.
A alternative (Tier 2) locations in suburban or even rural areas can take an operating expense budget further. Backup power should always include battery-based uninterruptible power supply systems and onsite backup generators (using diesel or biofuel) as a minimum.
But there is a potential downside to suburban or rural locations: The facilities may not provide adequate, redundant or cost-effective bandwidth to serve every customer. This might result in unexpected bandwidth surcharges or complicate the planning for redundant carriers. Look for providers that support “burstable” connectivity so that applications can exceed subscribed bandwidth temporarily without triggering a surcharge. Weigh bandwidth costs carefully, and ensure that an adequate routing infrastructure is in place to support redundant carriers.
A colocation provider with direct connectivity to cloud services may offer lower connectivity costs. If you have your own colocation requirements, but use AWS or Azure for seasonal workloads, then a data center with direct connections to those cloud services would probably keep costs in line and also provide better performance.
Location considerations must also include an assessment of suitability for the business. Identify a price point that is cost-effective while providing a level of reliability that is appropriate for the client.
Since the notion of “suitability” also extends to compliance, colocation providers may need to ensure adherence to regulations governing your business. Take a provider that leases equipment and offers value-added services to a company with SSAE 16, HIPAA, PCI, Mass CMR 17 or other industry rules. It may need to ensure compliance with those same regulations to prevent exposing your business to unnecessary risk. Compliance should be stipulated in the provider’s service-level agreement.
A number of data center operators are open about the fact that they outsource the ongoing management of their facilities but others are less willing to share how, and by whom, the day-to-day elements of the data center are managed. Don’t assume your operator does it in-house – make sure you ask!
At easySERVICE™ Data Solutions, Our datacenter partners provide the uptime and reliability fundamental to our infrastructure. We utilize datacenters in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, California, Washington and Oregon. Our facilities and locations are free from natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and power shortages that plague other datacenters throughout the world.
We deliver a high-quality, well-connected data center alternative for enterprise customers, as well as small and medium sized businesses, looking to secure their IT infrastructure and redeploy valuable resources against their core business.