3 data center connectivity considerations in colocation plans

Data center connectivity strategies play a critical role in finding colocation success.

When organizations develop plans to work with a colocation provider, they often emphasize issues like floor space and power capabilities, potentially neglecting other key issues. The network is a one aspect of a colocation plan that businesses cannot afford to neglect. More robust processing solutions, trends like increased video use and emerging technologies like cloud computing are all putting a greater strain on networks. An effective colocation plan can help organizations establish both internal and external network strategies that make it easier to deal with rising connectivity demands.

In some cases, a colocation partnership will directly make it easier to access better network resources through high-performance interconnects and other advanced technologies. In other instances, the impact may be indirect, such as reducing facility costs to create fiscal room for network upgrades. Regardless of which of these benefits a company chooses to take advantage of, there are a few key network considerations to keep in mind when implementing data center colocation strategies.

1. Facility location
High-performance interconnects and access to good operator networks are a huge asset when turning to colocation, but those benefits can be undermined if the colocation facility is not in the best location for your specific needs. Operator networks crisscross around the world, with different connectivity systems providing more direct pathways between locations. Organizations using colocation to reach specific target markets or connect branch offices often have IT assets that are separated by significant distances.

Choosing a colocation facility that provides the most direct operator connection between your data centers can lead to a major network performance increase, especially if the colocation provider you choose has high-performance interconnects that get data between facilities and operator networks quickly.

2. Scalability
Meeting rising network challenges often means bundling copper cables. This means that the network ducts, cable trays and raised floor space within the colocation facility needs to be equipped to support more cabling. Alternately, organizations can implement more fiber-optic cabling, but such plans depend on being able to handle the more expensive cabling format – something that may be easier with the reduced capital expenses that often come into play when leasing space in a colocation facility.

Furthermore, increased cabling densities can lead to issues like increased power consumption and airflow management challenges. Colocation facilities capable of supporting high cabling and infrastructure densities can make it much easier for organizations to scale their network for different demands over time.

3. Interconnects
Getting information from the data center out to operator networks is an incredibly important component in limiting latency and supporting the demands created by solutions like cloud computing and similar trends. Moving data through the Web hinges on the quality of operator networks, and the ability to get information from those networks into the colocation facility plays a critical role in maximizing performance. 

Beyond improving performance by eliminating latency, organizations also need to to deal with data coming into and going out of the data center from and to a more diverse range of sources. This creates a situation in which the network must be able to handle large amounts of information coming at the data center from all angles. The end result is an environment in which organizations need to have an incredibly robust interconnect setup that can take in all of the data entering and exiting the data center and get it out to the Web with minimal latency.

Establishing effective network systems can be much easier when organizations partner with a colocation provider. However, finding success in this area hinges on keeping data center connectivity in mind when establishing colocation plans.

Physical security matters when choosing a colocation provider

Biometrics, security checkpoints and other sophisticated solutions play a key role in data center colocation plans.

Data center colocation creates cost efficiency in large part by having multiple tenants share facility resources. This model lets you leverage sophisticated technologies without the same financial commitments of building your own data center, but it also means that you need to rely on a third-party for a variety of services. One key issue to keep in mind is safeguarding your organization's data and intellectual property.

When businesses build their own data centers they can establish an access control solution that will meet their specific needs, but moving to colocation puts that process into the hands of the vendor. While you may need an extremely high level of protection, colocation also mandates that your works will be regularly traveling to the third-party facility, so you also need to ensure the access control solution will offer convenience alongside protection.

A company that needs a high level of security needs to work with a colocation provider that provides multiple layers of protection. This often means having a guard station at the entry to the parking lot, a combination of human and electronic security solutions at all facility access points and locks either on the individual server cabinets a company owns or protecting the entry point to the part of a facility that a business leases.

Layering security processes is key to access control in a colocation plan, and a good solution will give you convenient access when you need it without sacrificing safety.

5 steps to getting a data center colocation plan started out well

Having a clear understanding of internal IT and business requirements is integral to finding data center colocation success.

Choosing a colocation provider is only part of finding success with a data center hosting plan. Organizations that want to maximize the value of a colocation partnership need to have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve with such a strategy. This means carefully analyzing both technical and business requirements to ensure the organization is properly positioned to take full advantage of colocation and has a clear enough understanding of technology needs to choose a provider effectively.

There is a lot to think about when making an internal analysis in preparation for a data center move to a colocation facility, but five key areas to keep in mind include:

1. How are technology requirements changing?
Every businesses have slightly different technological needs because IT functionality must be so closely matched to operational requirements. This creates an environment in which organizations, even those in the same sector, can have vastly disparate requirements when it comes to building a data center. One way to make sure a colocation strategy is equipped for future demands is to think about what the company would prioritize if it was building its own data center.

In this hypothetical discussion, would the business emphasize building a large space because future expansion is required? Would the emphasis be on a facility that can support high-density computing be the priority? You may also be thinking about issues like sustainability, flexibility or physical security as primary concerns depending on where the business is moving. Understanding how each of these issues would be prioritized during a data center design process will help companies understand what they should focus on when choosing a colocation provider.

2. Where is the industry going?
You can't afford to take on a large-scale technology strategy only to make investments that end up going counter to what is happening in the industry. Failing to keep pace with developments in a specific sector can cause an organization to put precious resources into technology strategies that end up becoming obsolete, regardless of their sophistication, because the industry went in another direction. Understanding the overarching business strategies and consumer demands that are not only currently present, but emerging onto the scene will help you better anticipate technological shifts that are on the horizon and plan accordingly.

3. How is the business changing?
For a long time, IT strategies were built around the idea of responding to business needs. If a company found itself needing a new application to support customer requirements, IT was tasked with tracking down and implementing a solution. As cloud computing and similar technologies have fueled accelerated innovation in IT and eased day-to-day management burdens, technology teams increasingly need to be ahead of the curve, not responding.

Taking a proactive approach to identifying business needs and adjusting IT plans and services accordingly plays a key role in a colocation decision, in large part, because the service plan can serve as a key strategic enabler for innovation. It is also important to realize that the longer an organization remains in an effective colocation strategy, the more valuable it will be. Shorter colocation contracts lead to disruption as facility moves become necessary. Alternately, finding the right partner and renewing contracts over time leads to fewer overhead costs caused by transitions and a more stable setup.

Achieving this long-term stability alongside an innovative IT environment is rare, but colocation services are uniquely suited to reaching such an end goal. Understanding how business needs are shifting and anticipating the technical implications of those changes is key to realizing this vision for colocation success.

4. How is the colocation industry changing?
Before seriously searching for providers you need to do some research on where the colocation sector is heading. Having an idea of what technological needs are driving innovation, how vendors are responding to problems within the service model and which types of colocation services are emerging as good fits for different technology demands an help you unlock the full potential of the data center hosting strategy.

Failing to recognize how the colocation sector is evolving can cause you to miss out on opportunities to plan for the future or understand which vendors are more likely to be ready for changing technological requirements.

5. Is the network keeping up?
It is easy to make technology upgrades in a vacuum, forgetting that each new application, every investment in a new service model and any new data management strategy will impact the network. Data center connectivity solutions play a major part in colocation plans, and understanding how your business' network needs will change based on other technology investments will make it easier to establish a colocation strategy that is well equipped to meet your various network demands.

Data center colocation gives IT teams an opportunity to leverage technology that would otherwise be out of reach, but before getting too excited about the breadth of solutions available, it is important that companies understand what types of services they really need.

Colocation provider partnerships ideal for large organizations

Unique technology requirements in the enterprise sector make working with a colocation provider particularly valuable.

Data center colocation often ends up being a perfect fit in the enterprise sector because the service model is uniquely suited to meet capacity and flexibility challenges. Large organizations face staggering backup requirements, strict security regulations and incredible demand for power and system capacity. This results in an environment in which flexible facility architectures that can keep up wit changing demands.

Managing a single internal data center is rarely an option in the enterprise segment. With branch offices to support, customers in diverse locations to reach, large energy bills to deal with and continually changing technology demands, large organizations need a data center setup that is not limited by the walls of their internal data center.

The data center without walls movement is rising as more organizations work to integrate their cloud, internal IT and hosted IT resources into a single operational entity. Working with a colocation provider can be a perfect catalyst in such plans because a colocation facility can act as a perfect hub for all of the various services a company leverages.

The data center connectivity and facility resources made available from colocation vendors are particularly valuable for large organizations because they provide the flexibility both in terms of IT capacity and network bandwidth to meet rapidly-changing technology demands.

Data center colocation a prime option for hybrid clouds

Data center colocation can be ideal for organizations trying to establish a hybrid cloud environment.

Working with a colocation provider gives organizations the ability to move many of their IT systems off site and take advantage of cost-efficient data center facility resources. Such a solution can be invaluable as businesses work to keep costs under control while balancing cloud strategies with dedicated IT resources.

According to a recent Channel Partners report, hybrid cloud strategies are emerging as an important option because many businesses are either outgrowing their existing cloud plans or maturing in a way that makes the public cloud a poor option. This isn't meant as a knock against the cloud, but instead a reminder that not all cloud solutions will meet the same operational requirements or be fiscally efficient as organizations face shifting performance or capacity requirements.

The news source explained that businesses running into these public cloud barriers would do well to hybridize their cloud setup and move some systems into an internal private cloud that gives them more control and security.

Data center colocation can be an ideal option during this transition, as colocation centers are ideal locations to house private cloud efficiently and can serve as perfect integration hubs between public cloud, private cloud and other IT resources.

Data center colocation – an evolving industry

The data center colocation sector has changed substantially in recent years.

There is a misconception among many organizations that a colocation provider today is not all that different than one was 10 years ago. This myth has emerged, in large part, because many people look at a data center as a fairly static entity. If what a company is selling is data center space, then what is really all that different now than it was a decade ago? In a recent Channel Partners report focused on telecommunications brokers, the author explained that any thoughts that colocation has not evolved and changed substantially in recent years are entirely off base.

Evolution across the colocation sector
The news source illustrated the degree to which the data center colocation industry has changed to other technology sectors that have experienced significant disruption. If a telecommunications broker thinks that past experience selling data center space is enough to move forward, it is equivalent to somebody who learned to code websites in the early days of HTML thinking they can hop right back into the sector without missing a beat. The growth and refinement of the colocation sector is such that the industry is an utterly distinct entity from where it was years ago.

The way that businesses can access colocation services plays a major role in this change, at least from a broker's perspective, as companies can use Web-based tools to quickly and easily identify nearby vendors, check out their power requirements and start to measure potential costs. Colocation is more accessible than ever, creating an environment in which brokers need to dig deeper if they want to create value, the report said.

The richness and accessibility of the contemporary colocation sector has an impact on businesses trying to find the right solution for their needs, not just brokers trying to make sales.

Looking at how changes in colocation impact customers
Differentiation is one common theme in the colocation industry. Over the past few years increased competition, innovative technologies and rising IT demands in a variety of business sectors has led colocation providers to work harder to specialize or diversity their services.

Organizations considering a data center movement can leverage this diversity to find a solution that doesn't just get the job done, but actually enables innovation and unlocks advanced technological capabilities. Data center colocation is no longer just about gaining access to data center space, it is increasingly about finding data center space that drives IT-business alignment.

There’s plenty to consider when choosing a colocation provider

Asking the right questions is critical to finding the right colocation provider for specific business requirements.

Everything from data center connectivity from what goes into a facility move needs to be kept in mind when making any colocation decisions. The potential gains offered by colocation solutions are considerable, but these benefits are often maximized only when organizations find a provider that meets their specific needs effectively. This leaves IT leaders with a lot to look at when choosing a colocation vendor, and asking the right questions is key to getting the information one needs to make an effective choice.

According to a recent Forbes report, asking the right questions when choosing a colocation provider is extremely important because even small differences between two data centers can lead to significant variances in the service capabilities of a vendor.

Questions to ask when choosing a colocation provider
Any businesses implementing a data center colocation plan should also ask what other solutions are offered by the data center services provider. The news source explained that many colocation vendors also offer cloud, managed hosting ,security or connectivity solutions alongside their colocation plans. Choosing the right vendor for a business' needs is often a matter of getting the combination of service options that company requires.

Forbes also emphasized location as a key consideration, as the physical placement of a colocation facility impacts more than just how easy it is for staff to get to the data center. Location can also have a direct effect on issues like network latency, backup strategies and business continuity plans.

According to the report, organizations considering partnering with a colocation provider also need to look closely at security and regulatory compliance. Access control and similar facility security practices can have a huge impact on how safe and convenient it is to host data in a colocation facility. At the same time, vendors need to be able to comply with regulatory guidelines that impact clients, making day-to-day processes and procedures a key issue.

Differentiation common in colocation
Looking closely at what a colocation provider offers is becoming extremely important as competition heats up in the sector. Colocation industry growth in recent years has led to a renewed emphasis on product and service differentiation across the colocation market. This creates unique opportunities for businesses to find services that are a natural fit for their needs, but it also means that companies need to take a closer look at the nuances of a colocation service before they settle on a specific vendor.

3 ways data center colocation is better than building a facility

Data center colocation can help organizations leverage advanced facility resources without the difficulties associated with construction.

Working with a colocation provider can create some challenges, but these difficulties are easily overcome by he benefits of the service model. Colocation is often ideal as an alternative to building a facility. A few reasons why colocation can be better than a purpose-built data center include:

1. Faster time to production
Building a data center can take anywhere from six months to a few years. Companies can get a data center colocation plan underway in a matter of months, allowing organizations to quickly take advantage of advanced facility resources.

2. Access to state-of-the-art capabilities
Few businesses have access to employees who are experts at building a data center. Even experienced IT workers may not know much about the unique facility considerations that come into play in the data center. The importance of specialized knowledge is a key reason to implement a colocation plan instead of trying to figure out the best ways to build a private data center.

3. Flexibility
Companies that build their own data center must also be prepared to work within the confines of that facility for an extended period of time, even if their IT needs change dramatically. Colocation plans offer the flexibility to adjust the configuration more readily and become more responsive to business demands.

A colocation plan makes it much easier for organizations to gain access to the facility resources they need with minimal disruption, leading to significant everyday gains.

Environment laws set to stimulate data center colocation in UK

New regulations could fuel data center colocation growth in the UK.

Working with a colocation provider enables organizations to accelerate their sustainability plans by taking advantage of economies of scale and advanced facility technologies. The energy efficiency benefits of colocation have long been clear. Where many businesses cannot afford to adopt advanced facility technologies to streamline cooling and reduce power consumption, colocation providers build their business model around offering such robust services.

The data center colocation industry can offer sustainability gains that many businesses cannot match on their own, and these benefits may only become more evident in the United Kingdom. According to a recent TechWeek Europe report, a new Climate Change Agreement in Britain could stimulate colocation in the country.

Climate Change Agreement favors colocation providers
According to the news source, the CCA provides financial incentives for organizations that put a greater emphasis on energy efficiency. Specifically, the new guideline mandates that companies that promise to use energy more efficiently will be exempted from carbon taxes. The end result is an environment in which organizations get a discount on their energy bills if they are able to use that power more efficiently. As such, businesses can use the carbon tax exemption to create more fiscal freedom to spend on sustainability projects.

The report explained that the gains associated with the CCA are specifically aimed at the colocation industry. While it is not exclusive to colocation providers, the regulations behind the benefits are written in such a way that they only apply to organizations in which the primary source of power consumption is the data center. As such, the law does not strictly prohibit enterprise organizations from taking advantage of carbon tax relief, but it does create conditions that make it nearly impossible for most businesses to take advantage of the program.

All of these changes brought on by the CCA could create a greater impetus for businesses to move to a shared data center environment, TechWeek Europe explained. If colocation providers and cloud vendors are getting carbon tax relief to use energy more efficiently, they are going to be able to invest in better sustainability technologies and improve their services. At the same time, businesses are still going to be facing the high costs of trying to provide power for internal data centers. Switching to a shared data center service environment like a colocation setup enables organizations to reduce their expenses and operate more sustainably.

Colocation and sustainability – it isn't a myth
When shared data center models like cloud computing and contemporary colocation services were initially rising there were plenty of discussions around the idea that these solutions were not really more energy efficient than traditional data centers. The though was that while shared data center environments may reduce the carbon footprint of individual businesses, all they really do is move the carbon footprint to a different location. On the surface this theory makes sense, but in practice it is far from the reality.

Few businesses run state-of-the-art data centers. Most companies have facilities that are shoehorned into office buildings or were purpose built years ago and provide severely limiting architectures. The small percentage of businesses that have had the funding to build their own data centers in recent years may have state-of-the-art facilities, but it would be just as easy for a company to choose to wait to build a new facility until the impact of cloud computing and other trends becomes clearer.

Colocation providers, on the other hand, are constantly working to meet new industry demands by building cutting-edge facilities that feature some of the best cooling technologies, power management tools and energy delivery resources available. As such, businesses that make a data center move to a colocation facility aren't just displacing their energy use, they are leveraging an opportunity to reduce it.

Differentiation becoming common in data center colocation

Data center colocation is increasingly viable for organizations with specific IT requirements.

For a long time, businesses choosing a colocation provider needed to do little more to point at a map and search for vendors in the area they were searching. This is no longer the case as heightened competition across the sector is leading to more specialization and a greater emphasis on specific areas of operation.

According to a recent Data Center Knowledge report, the data center colocation sector used to operate under a model in which organizations simply needed to build a facility and market it before they would end up filling racks with client equipment. While colocation popularity has not waned, the competition has increased. This has led to a situation in which more operators are recognizing the specific requirements of different industries and offering services that can meet those specific demands.

The news source explained that this new emphasis on differentiation is causing service providers to emphasize their product and refine their services to best meet the needs of different audiences.

Increased competition in the colocation sector is only a good thing for potential clients. It may leave businesses with a slightly more difficult decision when trying to choose a provider, but it also means that they are more likely going to be able to find a vendor that is uniquely qualified to meet their needs.