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Top five considerations for businesses colocating in a data centre

Choosing a colocation partner is a mission critical decision which needs care, thought and research. Roger Keenan offers some advice.

As information, computing and data communications technologies evolve, business demand for data centre / center services grows simultaneously. That demand is split into two parts; public cloud, where computing is available on demand and delivered from data centres owned and operated by large US-based corporations, and commercial data centres. It’s vital that companies understand which method will prove most beneficial for their business.

As the hybrid cloud model’s popularity grows, so does the trend of businesses moving from in-house to a combination of external colocation and on-demand public cloud services. The flexibility of public cloud means choosing a provider is simple and if the cloud service provider does not meet business needs, moving is equally simple. This is not the case with colocation, where the choice of an external data centre requires care, thought and research. With this in mind, there are five key points companies should consider when looking for a safe, secure and reliable data centre to host their own critical equipment:

1. Location
It may sound counter-intuitive in an era where fast fibre means latencies are in milliseconds, but location really does matter. It’s vital you can access equipment quickly and conveniently to make changes and investigate any problems, as if there is a real crisis, fast access will likely be a lifesaver. So, hosting operations in a location that your business and your most critical people can access in a timely manner is essential. Location in colocation matters.

2. Connectivity
For non-critical applications where a few Mb/sec of IP Transit are all that is required, a carrier choice may not be relevant. For more complex applications, a wide choice of connectivity colocated within the data centre is essential. This is especially true for situations where businesses anticipate heavy traffic or diverse international connectivity issues, such as international events or the launch of a new website. In these instances, finding a data centre with a wide choice of data connectivity suppliers colocated on site is critical.

3. People
Perhaps the most easily overlooked factor for businesses investing in a data centre provider is the way the organization works. Providers should play a pivotal role in business growth plans so the partnership should be long term and it’s therefore vital you can trust its employees to offer the highest quality service. Ask yourself: does the data centre add value to your business, or is it just trying to sell you something? Knowing you can trust your colocation provider when business critical issues arise after hours on a Friday is vital, as having to wait until Monday for crisis resolution can be crippling. In colocation, working with people you can trust is essential.

4. Technical standards
Data centre technology has improved greatly over the last few years. New data centres have been built, while existing centres have been brought up to the necessary standards, so data centres do now offer very similar propositions. However, security arrangements and standards vary considerably and it is important you’re satisfied any technical claims made will be valid for the time you will be colocated there.

5. Price
Price is an issue in all business decisions and choosing a partner to host your business critical data is no different. Much like clothing brands, well established data centres charge high prices because companies will pay them. A small number which monopolise a particular market – usually a glut of connectivity providers or an eco-system of financial customers - sometimes charge eye-watering rates for colocation services. If it’s central to business success, the customers have little choice but to pay. If not, there are a range of well-established data centres, especially in London, offering similar services charging sensible prices. 

Choosing a high quality colocation provider is mostly common sense, although diligent research is key. The choice impacts long term business growth plans, so identifying your organization’s needs and how data centres complement these will pay off in the long run.

The author
Roger Keenan is managing director of London data centre, City Lifeline.

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