These days, you can locate your computing operations practically anywhere – or nowhere at all, in the cloud. There are excellent reasons to work with a service provider that offers a variety of options from colocation to public, private and hybrid cloud services.
Along the spectrum of available services, there are unique features of colocation that deserve your attention. Colocation at its simplest is providingfloor space and infrastructure to support equipment you purchase and maintain. There are variations on this theme, but all share this element: a defined physical location. It’s that specific location that brings distinct advantages to certain kinds of operations. The right colocation provider can help you maximize the value of colocation for your environment.
For regulatory compliance purposes, for instance, many companies must ensure that data does not leave the boundaries of the US. Other companies are simply unwilling to trust the security of sensitive data and operations to third-party providers – relying on distributed workers in countries with varying legal and privacy practices. Compliance is easier to guarantee when you use specific physical computers in a specific physical colocation center.
There’s an interesting tug-of-war in picking the optimal location. If you’re planning to maintain and operate the computing hardware at your colocated site, the location is immediately constrained by travel distance. The members of your IT team who will set up and maintain the colocated equipment must be able to get to the site in a comfortable travel time. If not, both their morale and the quality of maintenance could suffer – putting the operation at risk.
However, there are also compelling reasons for selecting a colocation facility a bit farther away. If your main facility is subject to regional disasters, your colocated provider can mitigate your risk by offering a more stable location. For instance, the colocation facility can be placed in a separate power grid, outside of a geologically active zone or away from hurricane threats.
At first glance, IT team convenience and site security appear to work against each other. In theory, you could hire a separate IT team permanently located near and dedicated to the remote location.
But the simpler solution is to engage a colocation partner that offers managed colocation services. You then engage the partner’s team to perform the majority of necessary services, obliging your staff to travel far less frequently – perhaps only for audits, extensive upgrades or other exceptional tasks. Managed colocation services retain the benefits of owning your own hardware at a specified location, yet allows you to select a location with an optimal risk profile.
There’s one more important factor in locating your colocation facility. Think about your future expansion to locate new data facilities in areas of planned growth. Does the company’s long-term plan call for an office in Raleigh? Partner with your colocation provider to build out a facility there in anticipation. Then when the plans kick into high gear, nearby data services are ready to go.
The cloud has rapidly become the dominant way to outsource standard data center operations. While cloud computing is ubiquitous and – to a great extent – hands-off, there is a range of tradeoffs between cloud, colocation and managed data centers. Many organizations with specialized projects find that properly located colocation best meets their needs.