Even with the flexibility of the cloud, a lot of companies still prefer to own and operate their own IT systems. But when the high cost of running their own data center becomes hard to justify, many of those companies turn to colocation. The benefits are well documented, making the business case quite easy for many organizations.
However, there are several factors to consider in assessing your colocation options. Fundamentally, a colocation facility supplies the physical space for your servers and storage; the power, cooling and utilities required; as well as network access and multiple levels of physical security. Some of the most important considerations for outsourcing some or all of your IT infrastructure will be in regard to the physical requirements of space, cooling and power.
Space – Estimating the amount of physical space you’ll need today is not that difficult, but you’ll want to ensure the colocation provider can meet your changing needs and future growth. You’ll also need to consider the type of environment within the facility. Will you need a cage or cabinet? For many companies, this is driven by their regulatory compliance needs. Another consideration is cooling. If the equipment requires a lot of power, placing the cabinets within a cage will allow for better air circulation.
Cooling – It’s important to make sure the colocation data center you select employs the necessary cooling and technologies to protect your equipment. It’s also a good idea to ask about how the facility will cool the data center in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. For example, Peak 10 uses water to cool its Fort Lauderdale data center floor but it’s not dependent on local municipalities for that water. In the event local water becomes unavailable, Peak 10 can continue to cool the data center. If a provider relies on municipalities for cooling and the cooling source becomes unavailable, the temperature of the IT environment will cause servers to overheat.
Power – Understanding how to calculate the amount of power you’ll need is a critical step in moving to a colocated environment. Looking back at consumption over time will give you a good idea of what you’ll need. Some companies find that they are over-provisioning power and are able to cut costs when they move to the colocation facility. If you are using the equipment for the first time, seek a reputable consultant to help you evaluate the manufacturer specifications, along with any patterns of peak usage your business might experience, such as seasonal spikes, and determine the appropriate amount of power needed.
Also, voltage matters. Ask if the colocation provider offers voltage higher than 120V, which is more efficient because it produces less heat for the power supplies within the equipment.
Colocation is not a short-term commitment, so you want to make sure you get what you need before signing on the dotted line and initiating a data center migration. If colocating your data center so that you can focus on growing the business is something you’re considering, do your homework upfront. Select a provider that offers a secure, reliable data center and the expertise to work with you in determining your requirements for successful colocation.