Today’s organizations have many options when it comes to managing their data. While some are opting for purely cloud solutions, the security concerns associated with the public cloud have pushed many companies toward using data centers as the basis for their IT infrastructure.
But what kind of data center is right for their needs? Should they use an on-premises or off-premises solution? A private data center or a colocation data center?
Regardless of their size, companies can benefit greatly from incorporating colocation into their IT strategy. To understand why, it’s helpful to provide a specific data center definition of what colocation is and how it differs from other arrangements.
Colocation is a term that gets thrown around quite often but isn’t always clearly defined. Strictly speaking, the true definition of colocation is a situation where a company places its physical servers in a third-party data center. The facility takes on the responsibility for managing those servers on a day-to-day basis, providing power and cooling as well as handling some basic connectivity and maintenance issues that arise. In the traditional definition of a colocation relationship, the customer maintains ownership and control of the servers and everything on them. They essentially rent rack space and the infrastructure needed to run them and connect them to internet services.
Some customers prefer to rent physical servers from a data center instead of purchasing their own units. This doesn’t fit the definition of colocation hosting because the servers themselves belong to the data center, which limits what customers can do with them. In a colocation arrangement, customers have the freedom to do what they want with their servers, up to and including removing them from the facility if they’re not satisfied with the data center’s services. Since they own the servers that contain their data, migrating data from a colocation facility is as simple as unplugging the server and walking out the front door.
Not every data center is set up to accommodate colocation services. Here are some considerations that distinguish them from private data centers:
A 2018 IDG study found that about two-thirds of companies use colocation data centers to store at least some of their data. When it comes to on-premises vs off-premises data solutions, many organizations are opting for both, with more than 70 percent that rely exclusively on private facilities planning to migrate some data to a colocation data center in the near future.
The biggest factor driving colocation trends today is the need to establish backup and redundancy to protect companies from the threat of data loss. Many organizations are also turning to colocation data centers as a cost-effective way of expanding their network’s reach and capabilities. Data centers have the computing resources to accommodate big data analytics workloads, especially in the case of software-defined data centers (SDDCs), which can provide scalable virtualized server solutions at an affordable price.
For many companies, colocating translates into significant savings on IT infrastructure management. Since power and cooling costs are spread across the entire facility, colocation customers end up paying far less to keep their systems up and running than they would in a private data center. Furthermore, since colocation data centers handle the day-to-day care of their servers, companies can let their IT departments focus on improving their products and services instead of troubleshooting. Uptime reliability is also a major benefit of colocation since the data center is usually better situated to keep their systems up and running than the typical private data center (be sure to check the facility’s SLA).
As companies weigh the costs and benefits of on-premises vs off-premises data center solutions, more of them are taking advantage of colocation services. The combination of flexibility, cost savings, and reliability make colocation an enticing option even if a company decides to continue using a private data center as part of a broader data strategy.