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Colocation Sites: Cost Effective Hosting Centers for Disaster Recovery Planning

By CIOReview | Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Colocation centre comes as an alternate option, mostly when the budget of an organization cannot handle the expenses of setting up a Disaster Recovery (DR) site. Colocation has what it takes to bring a change in current practices; it facilitates organizations with data centre services to establish their own storage, network and servers. On a surface level, colocation may appear much similar to Cloud, as it pertains to companies migrating their data centers to an external service provider facility. That being the concept, both these outsourced data management solutions are often misconceived.

Companies specializing in off-site housing generally offer colocation, but unlike cloud, they rent out space for servers, hardware, and other equipments. Here the colocating organizations retain the ownership of the equipments, whereas in cloud hosting the provider firm has an upper hand. In colocation, companies have complete access to hardware, software and communications hosted at a DR site away from its primary location.

Colocation stands poles apart from the traditional methods of outsourcing, where organizations lack full control over the outsourcers, and acts as an all-encompassing, fully manageable backup system for companies that have invested heavily in physical equipments. Even though the benefits associated with colocation services are numerous, organizations must focus on proximity and security while pitching for the service.

Advantages of using Colocation for Disaster Recovery

The prime advantage of colocating is the optimization of overhead costs and needless expenses. Clearly, moving the data, servers and network to a remote location trims down administrative costs without affecting performance. On a comparative scale, the cost incurred in colocating is lesser than buying the server hardware and there can be bigger savings on hosting as well. Colocation makes it possible for smaller companies to compete with the features of large IT departments without heavy investments.

Secondly, Colocation sites provide a remote and secure off-site facility for equipments and data. During downtimes or when disaster hits, the ability to regain full functionality is what keeps the business moving. In such instances, a remote data centre readily allows to access equipments during recovery operations.

Retaining control over equipments is another benefit associated with colocation. Unlike the traditional managed hosting services, colocation provides control over the company’s servers and equipments while still housing it in a secure location. With colocation, companies can customize components such as hardware, software, servers, data storage, and communications.

Things to look for in a Colocation facility

Even in short-term contracts, unreasonable pricing and downtimes are undesirable. So while choosing a colocation service provider, one must focus not only on the current needs but also on the future requirements. Following are the key factors to consider while migrating to colocation data centres.

• Power density requirements have been on a steady rise to keep pace with the demands of the ever-changing technologies. However, most of the colocation services support an average 4kW per cabinet, as they were established at a time when floor space was the main deciding factor for choosing data centres. However, to support high-density environments, vendors will distribute the load over larger footprints, which may result in increased charges. Therefore, selecting a vendor who can provide power density support for both future and current technologies is of use.

• Contracts and SLAs are to be clearly coordinated expressing the needs of the company. Frequent discussions with the vendors before finalizing the deal will help sort out disparities. Proactively addressing the contractual items that are critical to business will help in communicating the level of service the organization requires.

• Building a smaller, high-density environment is much cheaper than setting up a larger yet low-density facility. For this reason, it is better to expand vertically in order to draw maximum benefits from the infrastructure that the company has already paid for. Operating costs can be significantly reduced if the same equipments can be fitted in a smaller space without affecting efficiency.

• As more companies are transitioning to dark data center facilities, the distance of the colocation site from the primary location is one of the main points of consideration. Whether it is to be located in close proximity or away from the primary site should be determined by the company. However, it is to be noted that farther the data center, greater the networking cost. For quick disaster recovery, the data centre should not go beyond 100 miles from the nerve centre.

• Ideally, there should be different levels of physical security both inside and outside the colocation site. Companies should inspect the provider facilities to check for external areas covered by camera and to know the procedures of installing their own security systems.

• Physical features of a colocation facility are unquestionably the chief elements of concern when choosing the vendor. However, it is also important to know the long-term relationship of the provider with clients and the additional services available. These factors will ascertain whether the company’s association with the vendor will be profitable.

• Organizations should have an understanding of the effect of distance from primary location to data centre on IT support staffs. If it is an unmanaged colocation, then companies may require dispatching a maintenance team for routine maintenance and replacements, equipment installations or in case of a disaster.

Companies need to focus on core business activities and hence seek seemingly safe and secure data recovery services, but hurried decisions will lead to a mess. It is important to take out time and plan to the nth degree, as paying less attention to the minute details can adversely affect the business.