The weather around here has been particularly cloudy lately, hasn’t it? Well, there are a lot of great and interesting things to be said about the cloud, and we know that many of you are looking to hear about it from every angle possible, so that’s what we’ve kind of been focusing on lately. But enough is enough already, right? Well, for now it is. We’ll wrap back around to the cloud later, but right now let’s change things up – let’s talk colocation.
If you’re a web-based business that already owns its own servers then you’re in great shape. But if you’ve dropped a nice little chunk of cash on high-tech servers to store all of your data on you probably don’t want to shove them into some dusty old room somewhere. Actually, scratch that. You definitely don’t want to do that. Trust us. There’s also a good chance that you don’t want to spend ludicrous amounts of money constructing a brand new state-of-the-art server facility. You do, however, want to store your servers in such a place. The solution? Choose colocation.
Colo gets your very own servers – or ones you decided to lease – stored in a world-class data center (DC) with oodles and oodles of space and high-tech, precise temperature controls and security measures. It’s the perfect solution for web-based companies that want their data protected while keeping it stored on their own servers that are stored in the absolute best facilities around.
Oftentimes, businesses go the colo route in order to tackle precise concerns or limitations of their own data centers. Insufficient power supplies, underpowered or outdated HVAC systems and limited physical space are the biggest reasons. Other firms are on the lookout for lower workload latency, which can be achieved by putting applications and data for them closer to their users in the physical world. Finally, colocation can be used as part of disaster recovery or business continuity plans.
Whatever the reasons a business considers colocation, though, they’re going to want to do the same thing they do whenever they make any other business decision: save money. Some colo providers require long-term contracts be signed, which can be costly. If you’re considering going this route, then your best bet is to review the information below to glean what the biggest costs are and how you can negotiate a deal with a provider at a price point that works for you.
Easy There, Big Fella’
Do you like always having the biggest and best toys? It’s understandable why you would. When going colo, though, you might want to think a little before busting your budget on resources you may not actually need. Before you speak to any potential providers you need to stop and think long and hard about why you’re going with colocation. What are your goals? What’s your plan for accomplishing them?
Think about how much storage space you really need. Do you need your own rack, or can you get by sharing one with another one of your provider’s customers? If you share a rack then you’ll save money on space and cooling costs.
Of course, some organizations will need far more space than a partial rack, and everyone needs to consider scalability. You know how much data you have right now, but you have to think about how much you’re going to have in one, five or 10 years and so on and so forth.
Some providers force a cost on you for every single service change, and some can take up to a month to make changes to your storage capacity. Those are both scenarios best avoided by anyone who is anticipating growing or shrinking their colocation needs in the future or having them frequently fluctuate. You obviously don’t want to spend more than you have to, nor do you want to have your plans held up while you wait on your data center operators to get around to scaling your servers up or down.
Speaking of changes, what if you want to change providers or move your servers back in-house down the road? Find out how easy it’s going to be to make that sort of change just in case you have to at some point. What are the costs and processes for migrating? Don’t wait to get the answers to these questions. Get them now – before you sign anything.
Colocation, Colocation, Colocation
Where are your servers going to be? In a high-tech data center, right… soooo, where is that at, exactly? The physical location of your colo host’s site is going to have an impact on how much you pay for their services. If you’re in a major metropolitan area and make the decision to locate your servers in the same place, you’re likely going to find yourself paying a hefty sum for that convenience.
By going with a DC in a suburban or rural area you’ll be able to stretch your budget further. Of course, going that route is not without its downfalls. Some facilities in the boonies come up short when it comes to redundancies and cost-effective bandwidth. Be aware that bandwidth surcharges or other complications can end up overriding some of your savings. Think about choosing from providers that offer “burstable” connectivity, which allows you to temporarily go over on your bandwidth subscription without having to pay surcharges.
“I would hate to set up a colocation to find out that break-ins are frequent, power outages are frequent, the building is in a common flood zone and so on,” Jeff Tondreau, an IT analyst at Traverse City State Bank in Michigan, told Tech Target. “As a bank, we would be wary of a colocation provider since that just adds another area where it’s hard to monitor threats and deal with compliance.”
Virtualize to Consolidate
By adding virtualization tools you can enable yourself to run multiple functions on the same physical host. The result is fewer servers needed to conduct more business. Keep in mind that that will not only save you on hardware costs but also on the costs to power and cool that hardware.
VirtualQube CEO Scott Gorcester tells Tech Target that it’s important to take advantage of virtualization without overdoing it. “Size hosts properly to get the maximum density of [virtual machines], but don’t overload the server,” he says. “New, more efficient servers can also reduce energy costs.”
Skip the Add-Ons
Colocation hosts will offer you the option of managing your servers, but if you own the hardware and your IT team is capable enough you can have them do it themselves remotely. If you’re leasing the hardware, then you’ll have to pay for initial setup, monitoring and data protection, but you can cut it off there and have your IT team do the rest if it’s qualified.
Other potential costs include added value options like monitoring, security, priority/ extended support analytics reporting, backup, etc. Your situation is different than everyone else’s, so it may be that you need a few of those services. It’s doubtful that you need all of them, though. Think about what you really need and skip the rest to save some cash.
Whatever you decide to do, it all comes back to thinking ahead and having a plan. Once you’ve got that, you can more easily decide upon what you do and don’t need, which makes saving money easier.
Image Source: Colo Advisor