Make Colocation Part of the IT Strategy Discussion

April 5, 2021
Colocation

Business requirements and technology have a lot in common: they both change frequently. So it’s not surprising that organizations must continually revisit and revise their IT strategies. Is there still a place for colocation in those strategies?

Colocation isn’t often been featured in discussions of IT strategy as companies focus on adding cloud technologies to their IT mix. That’s not surprising given that embracing the cloud is practically required for undergoing digital transformation, which itself is mandatory for remaining competitive in a fast-changing marketplace.

The cloud’s resources, scalability, and other attributes make it possible to more cost-effectively and efficiently take advantage of things like Internet of Things devices, remote communication and collaboration tools, applications powered by artificial intelligence and other digital transformation technologies.

Nonetheless, many organizations still maintain on-premises data centers rather than moving everything to a public cloud or hosted (third-party) private cloud service. There are numerous reasons for this, including legacy applications that require specific infrastructure, concerns about security and regulatory compliance requirements and for some organizations, a simple lack of time. That’s why colocation can and should still be part of the IT strategy conversation.

Colocation vs. On-premise

Maintaining an on-premise data center isn’t cheap. There are the capital expenditures (CapEx) such as the building, cooling systems, and racks. There are operational expenditures (OpEx), such as maintaining the equipment and providing physical security.

The human resource side can be expensive too — and not just in terms of labor and training costs. The IT teams that run most workloads on on-prem data centers often mustdevote  significant time to provisioning, configuring, monitoring, maintaining, troubleshooting, remediation and other day-to-day data center management activities. That leaves little time for focusing on digital transformation and other initiatives that can transform customer experiences and drive revenue.

This is where colocation can come into play. First, there are the cost benefits. Colocation provides a predictable OpEx model that doesn’t require organizations to keep up with the escalating capital expenses of building, securing and maintaining on-premise data centers.

Colocation can also address some of the obstacles that companies face in trying to move to the cloud. That includes accommodating existing hardware, which organizations may need to retain for hosting legacy images or applications that can’t move to the cloud, or simply because of the investment already made in them.

Read: What Drives Data Center Choice

For private cloud services, colocation is a cost-efficient, flexible alternative to an on-premises data center. Security and regulatory compliance issues related to the physical environment are handled by the colocation provider. That reduces the burden on in-house IT teams. It also provides companies with access to leading-edge security technologies that they might not otherwise have access to because of the cost or required expertise.

In addition, private cloud services hosted in a colocation facility only consume the necessary racks and space. In contrast to on-premise data centers, organizations only pay for the infrastructure that is needed rather than paying for idle data center space—not to mention the accompanying power consumption.

Colocation also offers public cloud advantages. An on-premise data center locks its organization into a fixed location. That creates latency when pushing data between the data center and public clouds. Colocation solutions allow for placing applications and data closer to public clouds, reducing latency.

Colocation Connections

Many organizations are finding that a hybrid IT strategy — mixing and matching any combination of on-prem, colocation, and cloud services — is the way to go in order to meet their IT needs. But one of the issues with a hybrid IT strategy is that it requires advanced networking capabilities to move data between internal and external resources. Colocation providers that also offer cloud services typically have those capabilities in place. Because they enable non-cloud infrastructure to be located in the same facility as cloud systems, organizations can take advantage of fast, reliable data movement between environments.

Access to their operator and interconnect networks makes it easier and more cost-efficient to quickly move data over large geographical areas and between internal and external assets. These private interconnects and specialized network systems get data to corporate WAN and LAN systems, adding a layer of security in how information is delivered.

Colocation facilities generally offer multiple high-quality networking options, giving companies the flexibility to choose the ideal solutions for their needs in carrier-neutral settings. Many also offer multiple layers of security and a more robust power-per-square foot ratio than is commonly available in on-premise data centers.  

In addition, colocation solutions, along with a platform to connect IT environments to the networks, content providers, and other components of today’s business ecosystems, give organizations the flexibility to locate workload capabilities near the computing edge. This reduces latency, decreases costs and improves availability and reliability.

Choosing a Colocation Provider and Facility

Once the decision is made to include colocation into an organization’s IT strategy and a strong business case is built for it, there’s still critical work to be done. That includes selecting a reliable colocation partner — and the most appropriate colocation facility.

Check Out: 10 Key Considerations for Selecting a Colocation Provider

We’ve previously covered some of the key steps to take in evaluating colocation providers. However, many colocation providers offer multiple facilities, and they aren’t all the same. Some may include cloud solutions; others may focus simply on providing racks, cabinets and cages. Security features can vary. Depending on use case and evolving IT needs, things like location and geodiversity may make a difference.

One way to approach selecting the right colocation facility is to develop a checklist of the criteria that matter most in terms of supporting your reasons for opting for colocation. You’ll find a variety of tools online that include many of the factors to evaluate. One to consider, at least as a starting point, is US Signal’s Colocation Evaluation Checklist.

Colocation Comparison Guide