How to Choose a Colocation Provider

January 11, 2019

Despite the popularity of the cloud, colocation is still a viable — and sometimes a preferable — option for many organizations. However, it’s one thing to make the decision to employ colocation. It’s another to choose a colocation provider. 

While we can’t tell you how you should go about it, we can offer some suggestions to help ensure you find a provider (whether it’s US Signal or another company) that can best meet your organization’s needs.

1. Make a Checklist

Start your evaluation by conducting a thorough needs and risk assessment to determine what your data center “must haves” are. This will help you create a checklist to guide your search process. 

What are the requirements of the use case (or use cases) that prompted you to consider colocation? How much downtime can you tolerate? What are your space and power requirements? What about security? Are there regulatory compliance considerations?

Keep in mind that what you need today may change a year or two from now. Make sure your checklist includes something that addresses your future—and likely changing—needs. 

If you’ll be evaluating several colocation providers, you’ll want to create a checklist for each and then convert the data to a format that allows you to compare the results side by side.

2. Make It a Team Effort

Involve your compliance, security and other IT personnel in the evaluation to make sure all your possible needs and concerns are addressed. If you’ll be sending out an RFP, you’ll want all these company representatives involved in creating it as well.

3. Get the Facts

Look beyond the marketing claims. If a colocation provider offers you its data center specifications in the form of literature or points you to its website, verify with that providers that the information is accurate and up-to-date. 

Request a copy of SSAE 18 SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports, which represent a third-party validation of internal processes and controls. You’ll also want proof of any relevant industry or regulatory agency certifications such as HIPPA and PCI.

4. Do Your Research

Ask prospective colocation providers for references ― and check them. Talk to current and past customers. How secure do they feel about a provider’s staying power? Use this opportunity to also get their perspective on other issues that may affect your decision as well, such as customer service, responsiveness and flexibility.

Technology partners, OEM’s and other vendors you work with may also be able to make recommendations or provide insights into the capabilities and reputation of various colocation providers.

Explore all means to get the full story of a data center operator’s financial stability, capabilities, and any other criteria that could potentially affect your relationship with these vendors.

5. See for Yourself

Visit each prospective vendor’s colocation facility in person. If you created a “requirements checklist,” use it to note the features that are available. If you can’t make a personal visit, consider options that still allow you to see the physical space, equipment and any amenities. Some vendors offer online tours, videos, PowerPoint presentations or “remote viewing.”

The Value of Due Diligence

Keep in mind that once you choose a colocation provider, you’ll likely sign a contract for a pre-determined term. Once your equipment is in the colocation facility, it could be time-consuming and potentially expensive to move it to another facility if you aren’t happy. 

Do your due diligence to help ensure that your choice of a service provider for colocation or any other service is the right one ─ and the smart one. For more guidance in choosing a colocation provider, download our free eBook: 10 Key Considerations for Selecting a Colocation Provider.

For information on how US Signal can meet your colocation and other IT needs, call 866.2. SIGNAL or email us at: info@ussignal.com.