There’s no business like a growth business. Taking a company through levels of expansion is as exhilarating as it is challenging, especially for mid-size companies. New employees, offices and business development programs put pressure on all internals systems, policies and departments to keep up so as not to be a hindrance to revenue generation and market expansion. As more business success is digitally driven, from workers at the network’s edge to new business technologies to data analytics and beyond, the IT department is always under the gun, which is one reason why colocation services continue to thrive.
Letting a service provider handle space, power, cooling, networking and physical security can save mid-sized companies considerable money. At the same time, colocating hardware and software offloads many management headaches for functions that don’t really contribute to your bottom line.
We see many companies that outgrow their colocation services provider for a number of reasons. The result — a change of vendors and a level of business disruption, which is never welcome. How do you prepare to select the best provider for your business’s current colocation requirements with an eye to accommodating the future growth you are helping to produce? Here are a few considerations that may help you get off to a strong start and then stay strong.
Sizing for Optimum Fit
At the most basic level with colocation, you’re essentially renting space and supporting infrastructure for your hardware from a service provider. There are other important considerations, too, but let’s start here. You want to provision only as much space and power as you need. Sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many businesses think they need much more than they really do; that’s their money they are leaving on the table. Or, they will under-provision, which can result in unexpected cost overruns or a delayed implementation.
This is another sizing issue. Ordering too much Internet bandwidth just in case you need it for traffic spikes or to ensure applications perform properly without debilitating latency will work, but at an unnecessary cost. Conversely, no one will be happy if you under-provision bandwidth, as it will slow applications down and reduce users’ productivity. It is better that you get as close to your requirements as possible, with the option to “burst” to get additional bandwidth from the provider on an as-needed basis within pre-defined spending caps. Once on location, make sure your provider uses multiple high-quality ISPs in its infrastructure.
Consult with the Business Side
Never before have the needs and interests to IT and business operations been so closely intertwined. Supporting a business versus driving and enabling business success creates entirely new demands upon IT. You are not simply renting space; you should be hooking up with a provider/business partner that can help your enterprise succeed. Engage with business operations to understand strategic plans, anticipated growth, new digital business initiatives, and current or future requirements for regulatory compliance. Not only will this help you ask better questions of potential colocation providers. It will also place you in higher esteem with business colleagues and corporate management.
Evaluate Expanded Services
By knowing where your business is heading, you’re in a better position to evaluate and broker IT service requirements needed over the long term. At some point, you may want data back-up and recovery services. Independent auditing of potential service providers for industry or government-mandated regulatory compliance may be essential. Does the provider have the skills to intercede on your behalf in case of problems, as well as the inclination to actually do so? If cloud computing is factored into your business technology agenda, you may wish to consider a colocation provider that can also assist you with that; there are advantages to having colocation and cloud services in close proximity.
Plan Every Detail with the Provider
You are not ready to make your move to colocation until your team sits across the table from the provider’s team to map out every aspect of your move, with contingency plans. Are power requirements accurately spec’d out, and is the planned configuration designed the best it can be? The right provider will go through your move in extreme detail, wanting to understand not only the technical details but what you hope to accomplish from a business perspective and what your future expectations are. Both teams should work to clearly articulate service-delivery expectations and responsibilities from day-one of the relationship.
Learn more about colocation and other services offered by Peak 10 at: http://www.peak10.com/products-services/data-center-network-services/
You can also take advantage of this free infographic on the ROI of colocation.