Colocation companies can help healthcare providers with their data center management.

Healthcare data center growth must continue

The healthcare industry is one sector where data centers are not only helpful, but essential. There is a growing amount of data generated in healthcare that needs to be stored electronically, such as test results, health records and research. Healthcare providers use data centers to house this information, as well as the backups, and ensure that in the event of a disaster, patients will not experience interruption of essential life-saving services. Additionally, doctors and researchers today need continuous access to clinical information to make medical recommendations and conduct studies. Healthcare providers can build data centers in house or look for outsourced services, but in both situations, a considerable degree of planning and research is required. 

Data center needs have evolved
A few decades ago, hospitals didn't have the massive amount of electronic files that they have today. In 2015, hospitals and healthcare providers are major producers and consumers of data. As such, IT demands have changed. James Coe, director of critical facilities at Syska Hennessy Group, told Healthcare Design Magazine what the technology transformation looked like in the early days.

"Hospitals first started out with a few computers, and then they started centralizing that into a room somewhere in the basement of the hospital," said Coe, according to the news source.. "That room started overheating or ran out of space or power, so they had to make the room bigger or dedicated to data."

Facing increasing compliance and regulatory scrutiny, healthcare providers are now required to make sure that their information is safely stored, backed up and secure. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act brought more patients into the system, making the need for good data management even more evident. Data Center Knowledge noted the ways that data will continue to transform the healthcare industry, mentioning how collecting and analyzing data is essential for making clinical decisions.

Healthcare Design Magazine also pointed out that data center providers that specialize in cloud hosting and colocation have emerged to offer necessary solutions for the healthcare industry. Colocation providers are able to offer the size capacity and security needed to house the massive amounts of information being generated and used.

Colocation is a perfect fit for healthcare
While some organizations believe that they should retain the physical control over their data and servers, that effort requires substantial financial investment in technology and real estate. Additionally, organizations will have to hire new staff, pay utility fees and perform ongoing maintenance. Colocation takes these burdens away, which  is why many healthcare providers opt for the colocation model, noted Healthcare Design Magazine. They can purchase their own equipment, but rely on the colocation company for the processing power, electricity, cooling and physical security. Another benefit of leasing space from a colocation company is that data center management becomes an operational cost, not a capital cost. Healthcare organizations don't need to spend all their money, or borrow heavily, to build new facilities when they can get the same services – or better – with colocation.

For healthcare providers who are set on building and operating their own data center, colocation is still a great option for their disaster recovery plan. In the event of a natural disaster, like an earthquake or a tornado, facility managers need to know that they will still be able to operate unaffected. As such, migrating backup copies to a colocation facility located far enough away ensures that data loss will not occur should the worst happen.

Planning and research is necessary
Ultimately, there isn't one solution that can satisfy all the data needs of an entire industry. Determining the appropriate data center strategy takes time and requires study. However, chief information officers should always be aware of their respective institutions' and facilities' needs. There are lots of IT goals and equipment considerations to keep in mind. According to Data Center Knowledge, healthcare organizations must work on choosing, procuring and implementing the right data center infrastructure to support the scale of their operations. Data center requirements are constantly evolving  and organizations should evaluate the ability of their existing data centers to provide the desired results. Often, technology is procured before things like power, cooling and floor space are fully considered. Kevin Farquhar, vice president with HGA Architects and Engineers, told Healthcare Design Magazine that with respect to data centers, one size does not fit all.

"Every group is going to have a different data set and goals for future expansion and implementation of electronic records depending on how large they are, how much they can invest in capital, and how much they feel they need to hold onto versus working with a managed group," said Farquhar, noted the news source.

It is likely that data needs will continue to evolve over time. With that in mind, outsourcing data center management may prove to be the best option for healthcare providers who want to focus the majority of their efforts on own industry and allow colocation companies to do what they do best – offer viable solutions for data center management. 

Choose colocation for your disaster recovery plan.

5 reasons why colocation is good for disaster recovery

Colocation is a great option for hosting a disaster a recovery site. Companies today need to make sure their data collections are safe and having a backup stored in a managed facility offers several distinct advantages over building a site from scratch. Here are five reasons why colocation and disaster recovery go together:

1. Reduced overheads
If you plan to build a site on your own, you will have to purchase land equipment and hire a contractor, as well as pay IT staff to manage the center. While you should feel confident your information will be safe from harm should disaster strike, the cost of your recovery plan does not have to be high. Colocation offers you the opportunity to back up your information without having to rack up all the superfluous costs associated with building a site on your own.

2. Time saved
Building a site takes time, whereas colocation is quick and easy. If you were to find an empty or facility or start construction on one, it would likely be months, possibly years, before you are able to back up your information to the new location. However, with colocation, you can migrate your information in days or weeks and rest assured you will never suffer data loss. As the old adage goes, "time is money," and in this case you will be able to save on both. Don't waste time reinventing the wheel if you don't have to. 

3. Ideal location
The location of your colocation facility is important. In the event of a natural disaster, you want a facility that is far enough away from your home office that it will not be affected by the same event. However, you also want your disaster recovery site to be close enough that you can routinely visit the facility and inspect your equipment. Search Disaster Recovery suggested that you find a colocation provider that is only a few hours away. Relying on outsourced data storage means you will have more options when it comes to finding the right location.  

4. Best equipment on the market
Colocation providers earn their money by offering companies an affordable way to store their data. Because these companies deal with scale, they are able to get discounts on equipment, cooling and security systems, making their facilities state-of-the-art. If you were to purchase the best equipment on the market on your own, the overhead would be considerable. However, by renting space in a colocation facility, you will be able to enjoy the most cutting edge technology available. All you will need is your own servers, computers, cabling and racks and you'll be good to go. 

5. 24-hour surveillance
If you were to build your own disaster recovery site, you would have to hire people to make sure it is physically secure. In addition to investing in cameras, motion sensors and alarms, you would have to pay people to monitor the traffic in and out of the facility. Colocation providers do all this for you at no extra charge. Because they already house and protect the intellectual property of countless other companies, they already have the best security in place, offering you instant peace of mind.

Thanks to colocation providers, ensuring the safety of your data from potential disaster does not have to be costly and can actually increase the efficiency of your organization. Forbes pointed out that the average cost of downtime is estimated at $336,000 per hour. This is why having a disaster recovery plan is essential: Relying on colocation providers will make your data management practices less of a burden.  

New developments in data center technology are impressive.

Data centers continue to impress

The data center industry is fascinating. While some may think of data centers as just big, air conditioned rooms with computers and servers lined inside, the truth is they are so much more. As the prevalence and size of data centers continues to expand across the globe, these IT assets are undergoing much innovation and invention. The Internet has become a regular part of modern life and, as such, companies and individuals alike expect their information to be accessible from anyplace at any time. To meet this demand, data center operators and engineers continue to develop new and creative ways of improving the technology. Today, a quick search of media headlines shows that much is happening in the data center space.

Flash storage in data centers
The Register explained that flash media is the most expensive to buy per Gigabyte, but also the fastest to access. Most data centers don't use flash storage heavily, but that is something that may change soon. Fortune pointed out that traditionally, many organizations relied on spinning-disc drives to store most of their data, but, over the past few years, flash storage technology has received attention for its ability to improve data center operations. It is not surprising that several startups have focused on their efforts to develop and promote flash hardware.  Pure Storage co-founder John Hayes explained how data centers can benefit from flash.

"One of the reasons people love flash is because it's so much faster, which means that you can quickly run queries," said Hayes, according to the news source. "There are all these benefits that you get out of it, just simply being a lot faster. What we want to do is speed up all this batch technology."

Hayes also pointed out that Facebook and Google use a lot of flash. Because flash allows companies to run analysis and queries quicker, other smaller organizations are beginning to catch on. Using flash storage will allow many nighttime processes to be moved to the daytime, because they will not take as long to complete. Fortune described storage as the "sick man" of the data center, as it moves a thousand times slower than everything else in the room. It remains to be seen if more companies will incorporate flash storage into their data center strategy, but as costs continue to come down, it may be more than likely.

Floating data centers
Another interesting news story that shows how data centers are at the center of innovation features a startup called Nautilus Data Technologies. This company plans to build floating data centers that support IT loads and promote safety and efficiency, reported Data Center Knowledge. Founders Arnold Magcale and Daniel Kekai pointed out that floating data centers are safe from fires and earthquakes. The startup has been designing the facilities, which use the water the data centers float on for cooling. They also use machine learning to optimize floating. The company's current plan is to build five data vessels. While floating, they will all get power and connectivity from land. The news source noted that the company is funded by a family that invests heavily in the green energy sector, but they chose to remain anonymous. Ultimately, this type of technology could be another new trend in data center innovation.

Alternate cooling systems
In China, interesting things are happening as well. According to another Data Center Knowledge article, Chinese Internet search giant Baidu has conducted research on alternate data center cooling technologies. China has high air pollution levels and that affects the efficiency of data center cooling. When companies try to pull the outside air into a data center, the high concentration of pollutants makes the cooling significantly more difficult than it is in other countries with cleaner air. That is why Baidu tested several methods of scrubbing and has also created cooling designs that don't rely on outside air. Baidu's "bottom cooling units" place heat-exchanger coils underneath the racks. Ali Heydari, the company's chief architect, explained the technology, mentioning that because the cold air supply is so close, it is efficient and eliminates the risk of failure.

"It's basically a self-contained data center," said Heydari, according to the news source. "It has its own cold aisle [and] it has its own hot aisle."

Ultimately, there are countless other examples of how data centers are making headlines. Not all news relates directly to innovation, however, as some articles discuss organizational success and revenue generation. Intel's data center group, for example, generates high operating margins – over 50 percent last quarter, which is quite impressive for any business. The Motley Fool noted that the company is also expected to grow at a 15 percent compounded annual revenue growth rate for the next three years. Whether it is flash storage, floating data centers, alternative cooling systems, or any other issue, data centers continue to innovate.

Facebook's new Texas facility will exceed $1 billion.

Dallas attracts big data center investments

Over the past decade, Dallas has become one of the most preeminent data center locations in the U.S. The more Americans use the Internet and consume data, the more Dallas benefits from that activity. Increasingly, companies set up their data centers there, taking advantage of the space and access to energy that the city and surrounding municipalities offer.

Dallas is a mecca for data centers
According to The Dallas Morning News, on Tuesday, Facebook started construction on its $1 billion, 750,000-square-foot data center in Fort Worth. It is expected to be on the largest data centers and investments for the state of Texas. North Texas has actively attracted data centers for years, and that effort continues to be rewarded. Data centers are often worth hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, housing high-tech equipment and valuable data for countless businesses and individuals. Fort Worth alone has at least 18 other data centers, with more in the pipeline. John Jacobs, executive vice president at Richardson Chamber of Commerce, explained that data centers are like gold mines for the state. As such, he frequently develops relationships with local businesses and real estate brokers that provide services for data centers.

"They are an absolute gold mine for cities," said Jacobs, according to the news source. "I think a lot of cities have caught on to this."

But Dallas and Fort Worth are not the only cities in Texas to benefit from the data center boom. Frisco and Plano are also capturing some of that market share. 

Economic incentives for data centers
In 2011, Texas passed a measure that grants 10- and 15-year exemptions from sales tax and use tax for data centers that invest more than $200 million over a five-year period, noted The Dallas Morning News. Facebook will likely see $100 million in economic incentives as a result. Sally Bane, director of economic development for Plano, stated that it is the city's objective to attract data centers by offering attractive terms. 

"They are something that we do encourage because they are high-value projects and add a significant amount of improvements to the tax rolls, and because of that, we find them a desirable project," said Bane, according to the news source. "We certainly make it known that we are an ideal environment for those projects."

Why Texas and data centers go together
Data centers are not a burden on municipalities because they do not create much disruption. They do not create high traffic, they don't emit air or noise pollution, but funnel a lot of money into the surrounding area. North Texas is also conducive for building data centers because there is ready access to fiber networks, the area has a low risk of natural disasters and the cost of land and utilities is cheap. Ultimately, energy is probably the most important consideration. Data centers require lots of energy and Texas is able to provide.  

Because data centers need a consistent flow of energy, power outages pose a real risk. That is why it's so important that data center operators always have to make sure they have backups and functional disaster recovery sites as well.

"Having that unfailable backup is critical to their business," said Jacobs, according to the news source. "It could cost them millions of dollars a day to be down, to not be in communication with their customers."

Energy concerns in the future
Data center developers understand that energy efficiency will have to factor into their plans in the future. As of now, electricity is their largest overhead item. The Dallas Morning News pointed out that today, larger data centers tend to have better energy efficiency than older, smaller ones. Facebook's center, for example, will be powered entirely with wind power. The Star-Telegram reported that Facebook has partnered with Citigroup and Alterra Energy to build a 202 megawatt wind farm on 17,000 acres in Clay County, and while the company will not own the wind farm, it will buy power from it. The facility is expected to be Facebook's most efficient, with the latest in server and networking hardware.

Facebook spokesman Michael Kirkland explained that renewable energy will help the company lessen the data center's costs. He pointed out, however, that most users do not think about these things, and just want to log onto the platform and know their information is easily accessible. That is true for most people – we want to use data but often don't consider the massive investments and projects that make that data possible. Such is the nature of data centers.

"Most people don't ask questions about where their data's coming from," Metzger said. "They're just happy to be able to log on to Facebook or Yelp or check their email and not know necessarily how that information is getting to their phones or to their laptops."

At the end of the day, not all tech companies go to Dallas. Google, for example, is considering expanding its data center near the Columbia River Gorge town in Oregon with an additional 23 acres, noted The Oregonian. Google's total investment for this center exceeds $1.2 billion. Regardless, of where data centers are located, the basics will probably remain the same. 

Colocation tenants want grater control over their data center infrastructure.

The cloudification of the colocation market

Cloud service providers have typically been one of the biggest clients of colocation facilities. However, due to the size and breadth of colocation companies, they will be taking some market share away from cloud providers in the coming years. Colocation companies have economies of scale and will be able to offer a wider range of services at less cost. Interestingly, one trend to surface recently is colocation providers "cloudifying" their operations. Increasingly, colocation providers will offer clients greater control of assets and infrastructure inside their facilities.

Cloudifying data centers for more flexibility
When determining whether to go with colocation and cloud services or building a data center in-house, capital expenditure is a top consideration. As such, many organizations in the past have opted to host all their information on external servers. Forbes pointed out that many organizations that allocated their resources to the cloud enjoy having the ability to add resources and capacity on-demand, often by simply making credit card payments online. Being able to increase server capacity or network speed instantaneously is a beneficial tool that allows companies to maintain greater control over their data management strategy.

Today, organizations that already have their data collections housed in colocation facilities are asking for more cloud-based automation for physical services. Enabling on-demand function to maintain control over IT systems is now referred to as "cloudifying" a data center, noted the news source. Data Center Knowledge mentioned that hybrid cloud adoption is growing and expected to triple by 2018.

Granting colocation tenants greater control
According to Vanson Borne, colocation will be the most popular outsourcing option in 2015 and 2016. Unlike cloud services, colocation grants access to many of the physical elements that make up a data center. Colocation tenants typically purchase and manage their own servers in a colocation facility and make adjustments to equipment when needed. Forbes pointed out that today, while colocation providers allow tenants to control equipment, they do not let them manage capacity. Michael Levy, CenturyLink Colocation Product Strategist, suggested that this is going to change. Colocation clients will be able to purchase more power, space, cooling and other physical services online, whenever they want. The management of outsourced space will be streamlined and made more convenient.

"What this is doing is taking the next-generation automation that cloud has brought to us – the ability to scale up and down using an online portal and applying it to the more physical services, which aren't going anywhere," said Levy, according to Forbes. "So, that's how you can fully cloudify."

Managing data center infrastructure with online tools
As part of the process to cloudify data centers, data center infrastructure management tools will be used, which will allow tenants to see how much power they use, for example, and increase usage dependent on need. In essence, tenants will be more involved in the physical management of their rented space – they will not be confined to their equipment and servers only. Levy explained that the goal is for customers to be able to manage and monitor all their infrastructure needs through sophisticated online platforms.

"The ability to move workloads … back and forth between colocation and cloud is ideal, and any portals that facilitate that process, that's cloudifying the data center," said Levy, according to the news source. "This is the customer-centric vision of where the industry wants to go."

The future of colocation and cloud
It will likely be a couple of years before the data center industry is ready to offer these types of services regularly, but the trend has already begun. Data Center Knowledge pointed out that companies are finding an increasing number of situations where public and private cloud environments are not conducive to their needs. Gartner predicted that big data will reinvent and eliminate 80 percent of business processes that date back more than 10 years. As such, with a growing need for data center services, and standard cloud options failing to satisfy that need, hybrid cloudified colocation will be the way forward. Colocation with cloud functionality offers companies the best of both worlds because it means they can control their own servers, physical infrastructure and still enjoy the cost benefits and freedom of not having to manage data in-house. IDC analyst Natalya Yezhkova explained how cloud offerings will continue to grow in the future.

"The breadth and width of cloud offerings only continue to grow, with an increasing universe of business and consumer-oriented solutions being born in the cloud and/or served better by the cloud," said Yezhkova, according to Data Center Knowledge. "This growing demand from the end user side and expansion of cloud-based offerings from service providers will continue to fuel growth in spending on the underlying IT infrastructure in the foreseeable future."

Keep track of your IT assets.

Decide if colocation is right for you

If you have arrived at that dubious point where you need to decide what your data center strategy ought to be going forward, there are a number of things you should consider. It is essential that you think about what it is you are trying to achieve and what the most feasible, cost-effective solution is for you. Fortunately, you have a number of options that you can choose from. This article is devoted to helping you decide whether colocation is right for you. Accordingly, here are 5 considerations for colocation: 

1. Identify your needs and determine if you can manage on your own
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you need and what you can afford. If your main concern is housing your data in a reliable facility, whether for day-to-day access or for disaster recovery reasons, colocation makes sense. Organizations that opt to build their own center tend to have highly sensitive data that they would rather house internally. Additionally, building and maintaining an onsite or nearby data center takes a lot of money and time. You would need to invest in a physical space, hardware, software and trained IT staff. Colocation, on the other hand, offers you the convenience of immediate access to your data without the hassle of managing any of the physical assets. You still own your own servers – they are just located in a fully secure, air-conditioned and well-maintained facility. If you do not have a pressing need to manage data internally, or you can't afford it, go with colocation. 

2. Research viable solutions and study your options
When comparing colocation providers, there are a couple of things to watch out for. Data Center Journal advised that you find a company whose main function is providing colocation. Some companies offer colocation as an auxiliary utility to IT and telecommunications services. While it may seem that multiple services with one provider is desirable, it is safer to focus on colocation providers that operate predominantly with data center infrastructure. That ensures that they are highly committed to giving you the best-outsourced data center experience. Furthermore, these focused organizations tend to attract the best service providers, giving you the fastest network speeds, best security and most competitive pricing available on the market.

3. Choose a provider that can give you what you need
If you choose colocation, it does not mean that you forego control over your own servers. Your colocation providers should show you how your equipment will be laid out. You can also ask about how certain assets are commissioned, tested and maintained. You can pose additional questions such as: Is there a lifecycle strategy in place? Do they have routine inspections? Is surveillance monitored 24 hours a day? It is important to remember that you are not just paying for a space to store servers, you are also paying for the work that goes into maintaining the facility. As such, you deserve to know how that facility is being managed.

4. Keep track of all your assets and resources
As with all outsourced services, it is still critical that you keep track of your assets. Your IT staff should regularly monitor your network speeds, as well as assess the health of your equipment. Things to keep track of include racks, cabling, power equipment, peripherals, servers and data center management software. You might think that you can outsource all your data needs to a colocation provider and wash your hands of the matter altogether, but that would be ill-advised. Most likely, if you choose a trusted provider, your assets will be safe and well-maintained, but a more prudent strategy involves routinely checking on your equipment. Remember that data is one of your most valuable resources and it should be treated as such.

5. Ask data stakeholders if the solution is serving them well
Once you choose a colocation provider, migrate your equipment to their facility and implement a reasonable schedule to monitor the health of your equipment, the next thing for you to do is talk with your staff members and get their feedback. Are they accessing data with ease? Are network speeds fast and reliable? Do they have any concerns with regard to retrieving valuable information? It is also a good idea to talk to your IT staff and get their views.

Ultimately, more enterprises will look to colocation in the future rather than invest in costly new data centers of their own. With the increasing number of applications, workloads and IT infrastructure, colocation will simply be the more logical and affordable option. EnterpriseTech pointed out that, as per a 451 Research survey, only 25 percent of companies plan to build a new data center this year. Conversely, 41 percent will seek colocation, cloud and other third party services. This means that opting for colocation is a good idea – just remember to manage your affairs intelligently and you are likely to be satisfied with the choice.

Colocation is the future of data centers.

Colocation represents the future of data centers

Data center colocation services are quickly growing to fill the needs of the market. The evolution of data centers started with the first computer and now seems to be rooted in consolidation. Companies increasingly outsource their data center needs to colocation providers, causing the market to be saturated with large, sophisticated multi-tenant facilities. Colocation providers offer companies immediate access to hardware, reliability and cost savings. Thanks to colocation, managing a data center doesn't have to be expensive and time-consuming. Data is essential, but the hassle of maintaining a site is quickly fading away. 

Data center space is increasing rapidly
Wall Street Daily discussed the history of data centers, pointing out that with the introduction of the first computer in 1940 came the data center. Today data centers are, in essence, the same as they were: Large rooms with air conditioning to keep equipment cool and connections running. As the use of data has grown to become commonplace in business, so to have data centers evolved into necessary assets for most – if not all – major companies. These air-conditioned rooms are found everywhere, housing servers for the government agencies and keeping the financial information of countless businesses safe. The rise of Internet use around the world has only made these IT assets even more essential, as data is now at the core of many economic activities.

Due to the massive amounts of data that businesses deal with today, organizations are faced with two options: Hosting their own site or outsourcing their data center needs. However, many companies do not have the knowledge or time to manage their own centers. This is why outsourced colocation services are an increasingly attractive option. Wall Street Daily pointed out that even technology companies outsource data management today, including both hardware and software needs. Tech giants like Amazon, Google and IBM have their own massive data centers, of course, but many smaller players cannot afford to do this and opt for colocation. The result is that the number of data centers has grown considerably over the past few years, climbing to over 8 million in 2013. Interestingly, the trend seems to be that as the size of data centers that are built increases exponentially, their numbers will decline slowly. As more companies participate in the outsourcing trend, the world will see less data centers being built on a case-by-case basis and more colocation. 

Colocation solves many problems
Forbes explained that managing a data center is expensive and time-consuming. This is why many companies prefer to turn the work over to third-party providers that offer colocation. An effective alternative to building and managing a data center, colocation allows companies to enjoy all the benefits of having their own data center, without the hassle of setting up and maintaining real estate and equipment. Colocation facilities use economies of scale to offer affordable data storage, by sharing power, cooling and floor space among their tenants. Tenants still retain full control over their equipment. The news source likened colocation to entrepreneurs sharing office space in a multi-tenant building. Because many companies recognize the value of colocation, it is increasingly being incorporated into companies' IT strategies and overall business plans.

According to 451 Research, by the end of 2017, the global colocation market will be worth $36 billion, an increase of 58 percent over 2015. Forbes indicated that the bulk of the expansion will take place in the Asia Pacific region, due to the need for additional data center space and a highly congested real estate market. Since many companies have already adopted hybrid IT strategies, combining both onsite and outsourced data centers, the trend will have no problem gaining momentum over the coming years. Philbert Shih, managing director of Structure Research, explained that colocation helps companies manage data while freeing up resources to focus on value-added activities, noted Forbes. 

"You can imagine the waste when an organization builds a large data center for themselves, and it turns out they only need 50 percent after they've laid out significant capex to build it," said Shih, according to the news source. "Colocation allows organizations to turn capex expenditures into opex expenditures so they can spend resources more efficiently and predictably. It's like letting the experts work on the plumbing so that you can worry about what drives the business."

Wall Street Daily explained that data center operators are able to procure equipment at scale and offer organizations cost savings. Additionally, given that many companies are now reliant on the cloud, that is making the transition to colocation easier and more affordable. Colocation offers companies better access to hardware, speed, reliability and ubiquity of software. Its a win-win scenario for all.

Pick a colocation provider that demonstrates a commitment to quality.

Use colocation for your disaster recovery plan

If an organization views data as an essential and necessary asset, then it should have a disaster recovery plan. You never know when disaster will strike and losing all your client records or proprietary information can be devastating. Increasingly, companies look to colocation service providers as an affordable and efficient option for managing their own disaster recovery sites without the hassle of having to invest in new facilities, staff and equipment. If you need a good disaster recovery plan, read on to learn about the ways that a colocation facility may be the answer for you. 

Insure your company against potential data loss
Data Center Knowledge pointed out there are several markets where data safety falls under strict regulations. In these industries – health care, banking and government – disaster recovery is often not an option, it is a necessity. Regardless of industry, disaster recovery data centers are just good business. Not having one could mean the end of any company in the face of a natural disaster or other unforeseen event. Some businesses can't go to colocation for their disaster recovery plan, due to the sensitive nature of information, but most companies will benefit from this solution. 

If you are thinking about setting up your own disaster recovery site, you should seriously consider colocation services as an alternative to building your own data center. In a colocation facility, you can set up your own network, servers and storage much more quickly than if you were starting from scratch. However, not just any provider will do. You want to pick a colocation data center that isn't too far away from your headquarters and is clearly committed to providing a quality service. 

Colocation is good for disaster recovery
The purpose of a colocation facility is to help you migrate and store your data safely without having to break the bank. By outsourcing your data needs, you can effectively lower your overheads and raise efficiency at your company. Colocation providers maintain special sites where multiple customers can store their servers and install their networks. Colocation is particularly useful for disaster recovery because it is based on the idea that the data is not in your primary location.

As previously mentioned, some companies may not want to forego complete control over their data and hardware when information is highly sensitive and confidential, but the vast majority of businesses will benefit from colocation. Because colocation means your data center is in a different location, you will have the safety knowing that, should anything happen, your primary site and backup data won't be affected by the same event. However, you will still maintain control over your hardware, software and communications remotely. You won't be involved in the management of power supply and cooling systems, but that is something colocation providers are more likely to be better at anyway.

Considerations when choosing a provider
You should pick a colocation provider that has a proven track record for safety and reliability. That means they have generators in the right places, facilities are clean and efficient, and video surveillance is monitored around the clock. Data Center Knowledge mentioned that you should make sure they are SAS 70-compliant and certified. If your colocation provider satisfies these requirements, you are well positioned to begin migrating your data. 

It is important to remember, however, that proximity is a consideration. Colocation is a great option for disaster recovery because it isn't at your primary site, but you don't want to choose a facility that is too far either. Consider the time it would take to visit your colocation data center. A trip of a couple of hours is far enough away to ensure that a natural disaster in your region won't affect your data center, but more than that will be an inconvenience. You want to be able to visit your data center whenever there are potential issues you must attend to.

Colocation disaster recovery offers flexibility 
ITBusiness Edge noted the flexibility that colocation offers is why it has become a popular option for disaster recovery. On its own, the disaster recovery market has grown in recent years, amounting to $1.4 billion. It is expected to hit $11.92 billion by 2020. In this trend, colocation services have been particularly attractive for small to midsize organizations that do not have the capital to maintain their own operations. Accordingly, cloud-based solutions that offer the same functionality over long distances continue to capture more data center market share.

If you need a disaster recovery contingency plan, consider colocation. You can give your enterprise a lot of flexibility when it comes to migrating, mirroring and maintaining data in a structured and secure environment. In the event of a natural disaster, you will rest assured that one of your most valuable assets – data  – is protected.

Data centers require great amounts of energy to operate.

3 things to look for in a sustainable colocation provider

When considering your data management needs, finding a colocation provider that is committed to sustainable practices is a good idea. Beyond altruism and environmental responsibility, sustainable colocation providers can help make your organization better. 

The colocation data center market is growing bigger
Data Center Knowledge reported that, by 2017, the international colocation data center market is expected to reach $36 billion. A report from 451 Research indicated that the global footprint of data centers will grow by over 40 million square feet to total 150 square feet. Today, the colocation market generates approximately $22.8 billion a year. In only two years, colocation data centers' footprint will grow by 75 percent and revenue will increase by 63 percent.

The news source also pointed out that data center market growth is driven primarily by the cloud. 451 Research estimated that today, less than 50 percent of the world's total space that supports data center IT equipment is located in North America – 43 percent. Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific represent a significant amount as well. It is difficult to say what the implications of the footprints growing faster than revenues may be, but companies should do their part to make sure they are committed to sustainable growth. There are several strategies can companies can use to manage their data centers in more economical and environmentally safe ways.

Sustainable, energy efficient data centers are on the rise
According to IntelligentUtility, 60 to 70 percent of total operational costs for a data center are energy related. Data centers require large amounts of energy to power the computers, servers and network. Interestingly, data centers represent one of the biggest consumers of electricity in the world. However, many organizations today commit to powering their data centers intelligently, have zero waste policies, and do what they can to operate more efficiently and lessen their environmental impact. Not only does energy efficiency fit nicely with CSR initiatives of large corporations, but 59 percent of Fortune 100 companies have already set greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments. As such, data center efficiency is likely to be a priority for many top executives.

Data center colocation is one proven way that companies can use less energy, while still enjoying all the benefits of maintaining a fully functioning data center. Accordingly, here are three things to look for in a data center colocation provider:

1. Look for high computing density
Colocation providers that enable high-density computing are able to improve performance by reducing the amount of resources necessary for each square foot of space. Things like water, energy, maintenance and expenses can be kept to a minimum if each square foot of a data center hosts as much computing power as possible, while still adhering to safety standards and best practices. Ask your colocation provider if they use space efficiently and opt to outsource your data center needs to companies that understand high-density computing.

2. Ask for key performance indicators
One of the best ways to ensure that you are continually working toward your sustainability goals is to receive constant updates regarding operating efficiency and resource usage. Look for colocation providers that track key metrics over time and can provide that data to you through software online. By tracking the performance of your colocation provider and outsourced IT assets, you can find areas where efficiencies can be reduced and improvements made. The more flexible you can be regarding the management of your data center assets, the easier it will be to engage in continuous improvement activities. 

3. Plan your data center management intelligently
Having a  strategy, and establishing a footprint, allows you to manage your data center needs in a more effective manner. You might find that you can allocate your demand across multiple data centers, receive all the services you require, and still meet your sustainability goals. As previously mentioned, by tracking water, energy and overall resource management, you can ensure sustainability, regardless of where your data center is located. 

Ultimately, outsourcing your data center needs is a good idea. Looking for energy smart data centers is even better. In 2015, responsibility is just as important as revenue. Management teams, shareholders, employees and customers want to see a commitment to sustainability. Given that efficiency operations are also good for the bottom line, there is no reason why your data center strategy should not be based on socially responsible principles.

Colocation offers a less expensive way to manage your data needs.

Choosing the right data center option for your business

No longer just an option for many companies, data centers are now considered to be essential parts of the corporate machine. Information drives many business decisions and processes today, and making sure that data is stored and secured is paramount. However, some organizations find that the cost of maintaining and upgrading their data center is an ongoing challenge and many companies have to balance the costs against what they actually need to have to continue operating successfully. When choosing between colocation, expanding a current data center or building a new one, it is not always an easy choice. 

Consider the financial aspect
There are a number of financial considerations that go into deciding the best data strategy for your company. You should ask yourself what your immediate needs are. If your current infrastructure is not enough to support your operation, it will take time to implement any solution. However, colocation will take significantly less time than building a new facility. A new facility can take months to become fully operational, whereas a colocation provider can make several servers available much faster. The Data Center Journal explained how backend infrastructure factors into data center management. 

Perhaps you think you need to have your own site, but will that be too costly? Will the implementation time affect your operations? Consider the return on investment and scope of any project before you commit serious capital.

What is your organizational need?
Some companies utilize data more intensively than others. In an industry where revenue is earned through managing large amounts of data, owning your data center assets may be more important than in industries where you just need to access your data and know it is secure. If your business is not primarily about managing data, then consider colocation as a faster and less costly option.

The solution also does not have to be cut and dry. Some companies prefer to use a combination of corporate-owned and colocation services to meet their data needs, noted Data Center Knowledge. Certain pools of data are highly sensitive, and must adhere to stringent regulations. Some of the data belonging to government agencies, banks, hospitals and health care companies may be too sensitive for colocation, but the vast majority of data does not fit this description. Accordingly, it would be a good idea to outsource some of your needs to a third party provider. If your business model allows for it, take advantage of what the market has to offer today. Colocation is safe, reliable and will not break the bank in the same way that building your own facility will. Don't buy space, servers and hire IT staff if you don't need to.

Do you have the physical space?
Data Center Knowledge explained that most companies looking to increase their data center capabilities consider expanding their current infrastructure, as it is less costly than investing in new facilities. However, a company must think about whether it has space to house new servers and staff to cater to the additional assets. Power consumption also can present a certain dilemma. Data centers require a lot of power and ensuring that there will be sufficient energy, as well as backup power in the case of an outage might be beyond a company's capability.  

If your company can pay for the upgrade, operate efficiently, and accommodate for the changes, then expansion might be the correct solution. If you do not have enough physical space of if you don't believe you have the additional resources to cater to the increased IT demand, then colocation might be a better idea.

It is important to remember, that when talking about data centers, operational efficiency and time management are key. Whether you choose colocation or housing your own data center, make sure your business objectives and technology needs are in sync. Not doing so could end up costing you more than you expected.