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Data center colocation services can help you get the most out of your WAN.

4 ways data center colocation can improve WAN performance

Data center connectivity gains are commonly associated with colocation plans, and the WAN is often the part of the network that benefits the most. The WAN connection is notoriously difficult to upgrade because the costs of adding new infrastructure are prohibitive for WAN service vendors, such as telecoms. The result is a situation in which subscribing to more expensive service plans is similarly problematic for businesses. Instead of adding more capacity to WANs, organizations will often work to optimize their WAN systems. This is one area where data center colocation services really pay dividends.

Four major ways that working with a colocation provider can support WAN performance improvements include:

1. Putting a CDN into place
A content delivery network is a specialized WAN link that is devoted to supporting a specific type of content. This can be used to host data pertaining to a particularly information hungry Web app, a website that is accessed by a large number of users or similar content. Using CDNs to support enterprise video or external video strategies is fairly common at this point because the network solution can be refined to meet the specific routing and traffic management needs of the high-bandwidth content.

CDNs are a fairly specialized network service that can supplement your existing WAN setup, but they are widely considered an excellent way to ensure effective performance for key Web solutions.

2. Maximizing routing potential
Routing information through the WAN is a complex and difficult matter, but there is one simple rule of thumb – having data move the shortest physical distance possible is almost always ideal. This is one area where colocation solutions really pay dividends. Colocation providers generally build their facilities in locations with prime access to the large operator networks that crisscross the country and the rest of the world. This means that your data will not only get onto those networks through a relatively short path, but that colocation vendors will often have access to multiple operator pathways.

This diversity for access means that colocation vendors are able to not only choose the route that is the shortest distance, but select an alternate pathway if the shortest one is so clogged with data that the transmission will be slowed. The result is a situation in which the initial routing choices impacting WAN performance are made in such a way that functionality is maximized.

3. High-performance interconnects
The distance data must travel between the location where it is stored and the major operator networks that transmit it over long distances can be a major performance bottleneck. This is one issue that colocation providers work hard to overcome. The first step in this process is building facilities in close proximity to operator networks, but that is only part of the solution. From there, colocation vendors build out high-performance interconnect systems that ensure data can get to the operator network with incredible speed.

A good interconnect will usually feature a fiber-optic cable connection and superior data transit speeds to local telecom services in a cost-efficient way. The result is a situation in which data moves from the colocation facility to the operator network extremely quickly and with minimal disruption.

4. Service diversity
Many telecoms have different quality levels when it comes to their infrastructure in various regions. Where one telecom has built out fiber in one area, another may only have basic copper networks. A carrier-neutral colocation provider offers organizations the opportunity to mix and match their telecom services based on which vendor in the area makes the most sense. A colocation facility may have access to network links to a bunch of different telecom systems in the region, making it easier to take advantage of whichever setup makes the most sense based on where data has to travel.

Dealing with WAN challenges through colocation
Optimizing the WAN is becoming more important than ever as organizations move more data through the cloud and support more employees who are accessing information using smartphones and tablets. The WAN therefore needs to handle more information and get that data to a wider range of destinations, and businesses can only afford to pay so much for this flexibility and performance. Hosting core systems in a colocation facility, or even using the colocation plan as a hub for diverse cloud services, gives businesses a foundation upon which they can maximize the value of their WAN services.

A colocation plan does not necessarily cover every facet of WAN optimization that an organization can consider. However, it does offer a variety of data center connectivity solutions that, when combined, lay the groundwork for a high-performance, cost-efficient WAN setup that can help companies get a competitive advantage in their industry. The colocation industry got its start offering robust connectivity services to industries like automated trading, and these connectivity solutions can help your business now.

The data center colocation industry continues to grow at a global scale.

Data center colocation industry experiencing solid growth

Anybody looking for a Dallas data center is in luck, as the metropolitan area was recognized as one of the fastest growing markets for colocation services. A TeleGeography study found that Dallas and Seattle are the two North American markets experiencing the greatest colocation industry growth, but the sector as a whole has been rising over the past few years. This expansion moved at a fairly steady pace in both core and emerging markets.

Colocation industry growing
According to the study, the colocation industry as a whole experienced a 12 percent compound annual growth rate globally during the 2011 to 2014 period. This considerable expansion was headlined by markets like Dallas and Seattle in North America, Amsterdam and Stockholm in Europe and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. On the whole, the continent down under represented a key market for colocation industry growth, with capacity increases compounding to an annual growth rate of 30 percent in Sydney and Melbourne for the period of 2011 to 2014.

The 30 percent compound annual growth rate in Sydney and Melbourne was huge, but the fastest growing U.S. metropolitan market for data center colocation, Dallas, also experienced breathtaking square-footage increases. The CAGR of data center floor space growth in Dallas came in at 26 percent for the period of the study. 

In general, TeleGeography found that steady growth was fairly common across core colocation markets, but there was significant variety in the scale of that expansion across various markets. Jon Hjembo, an analyst for the research firm, explained that the variable growth rates in various markets shouldn't come as a surprise as the industry tends to continually fluctuate based on perceived demand in any one market.

"Capacity growth rates in markets rise and fall as operators adjust their perceptions of demand, and how well positioned they are to meet this demand," said Hjembo.

Factors contributing to colocation growth
There have been some conversations about the thought that colocation services will decline as cloud computing rises. However, recent industry conversations point to an alternative environment – colocation and the cloud are rising side by side. Plenty of cloud providers are hosting their systems in colocation facilities and many businesses find that colocation is an ideal service to accompany their cloud plans as it can handle data that is more sensitive than many organizations are comfortable putting into the cloud. As such, the growing move to outsource elements of the IT department is contributing to considerable colocation demand.

Data center colocation can help organizations take advantage of sustainable data center resources.

Data center colocation providers among sustainability leaders

The idea that working with a colocation provider can help organizations operate more sustainably has long been heralded as a reason to implement the service model. After looking back at the various energy efficiency developments happening across the data center sector as a whole over the last decade or so, a recent Data Center Dynamics report verified that cloud and colocation solutions are among the leading sources of efficiency gains in the industry.

Giant data centers and the pathway to energy efficiency
The news source explained that many businesses began focusing on green initiatives a long time ago, but those initial efforts slowed when the recession hit. However, companies recognized that green IT strategies could reduce energy costs and create a significant return on investment. This created an environment in which sustainability remained a priority in the data center despite the recession. Around this time, major cloud providers emerged and took a lot of heat from environmental advocates because their facilities were consuming so much power. However, this pressure may have been misplaced.

According to the report, most experts estimate that approximately 2 percent of energy in the United States is consumed in the data center industry, and that figure is fairly common around the developed world. This led to significant pressure on companies building giant data centers because they were viewed as the culprit. However, closer analysis from the National Resources Defense Council revealed that server rooms and similar data center solutions deployed by small and medium-sized businesses, as well as enterprise organizations, use approximately half of all power consumed across the data center sector.

Conversely, the hyperscale computing sector – the giant data centers owned by cloud providers and similar organizations – use only 5 percent of the data center industry's power. The reality is that these vendors, which include data center colocation providers, have more incentive than anybody else to use energy efficiently and have been on the forefront of optimizing their facilities for sustainability.

Taking advantage of optimized data centers
A colocation provider has two key reasons to make the most of power resources – keep costs down and gain a competitive advantage. Both of these factors can create a huge ROI for colocation providers, and their clients are the ones who benefit. Organizations that want to promote sustainability, but cannot reasonably optimize their own data centers could choose to house their IT configuration in a colocation facility and take full advantage of the efficiency advantages offered by the vendor.

Data center colocation services are rising as companies close down their internal server rooms.

Tech industry trends favor data center colocation moving forward

The idea that partnering with a colocation provider can deliver major technology gains isn't new, but the service model could be set to rise alongside emerging technology trends. Buzzwords are flowing freely throughout the technology industry as a variety of new solutions come together to disrupt the way organizations manage their IT systems and operations. The result could soon be a decline of the data center as we know it and a focus on large, high-density mega data centers. This transition holds considerable potential for the colocation industry.

The decline of the traditional, internal data center
A recent IDC study predicted that the number of data centers in existence will reach a pinnacle in 2017, when approximately 8.6 million data centers will be in operation around the world. From there, however, the number of data centers will gradually decline as more organizations move away from running their own internal facilities and turn to various third-party data center services to replace corporate facilities.

IDC expects server room investments to begin declining as early as 2016, with server closets beginning to face a recession in 2017. From there, the industry as a whole will start to go big. While the actual number of data centers in existence is expected to decline starting in 2017, the amount of square footage support data center systems will continue to increase. This points to a clear trend of consolidation and high-density facility construction. We are entering the age of the mega data center, and data center colocation is a prime option for organizations trying to retain their competitive edge.

Richard Villars, vice president of data center and cloud research at IDC, explained that the majority of organizations will stop managing their own IT systems within the next five years. On the whole, the IT industry is moving into an arms race in which data center services providers will be working hard to meet growing capacity demands.

Data center colocation is a step into the future
Colocation services are well established and vendors have a deep understanding of how to optimize facility architectures to meet client demands. However, this expertise isn't necessarily enough to meet changing industry needs. Instead, leading vendors are building out next-generation colocation services that can support the high-density, high-performance computing environments that organizations increasingly need as they close down their internal facilities. As such, turning to colocation services now can help organizations position themselves well for changes coming in the next few years.

Flexibility is critical as organizations consider solutions like data center colocation.

Data center colocation creates critical flexibility

Working with a colocation provider has long had a reputation as a partnership that delivers IT flexibility. That elasticity is only increasing as various modular architectures take hold in the sector, something that is becoming increasingly important as IT teams face significant uncertainty.

A recent IT Business Edge report explained that a lack of clarity about where technology is going represents a major problem for businesses in every sector. Everybody knows that big data is on the horizon, but few people can actually figure out how much data capacity and performance requirements will change moving forward. Similarly, a move toward the hybrid cloud is clearly coming, but it is nearly impossible to discern how much infrastructure will end up hosted internally and how much will be handled externally.

These issues of uncertainty are making data center investments extremely tricky, a sentiment that is making flexible data center architectures critical, industry expert Kevin Brown told the news source.

Just going modular may not be enough to keep up with the pace of change in the data center sector. Getting beyond basic modularity and implementing massively modular solutions that bring flexibility to the entire data center can create incredibly value by offering companies flexible IT architectures.

There are a few issues you should keep in mind when choosing a colocation provider.

5 traits to look for in a colocation provider

Data center colocation offers organizations an opportunity to maximize the value of their various IT assets. However, next-generation colocation models are disrupting the industry in a variety of ways. This creates greater potential for a return on investment because colocation services are more advanced. However, it also means that vendors are doing more to differentiate themselves from one another, meaning there is more variety in the industry.

The diversity rising across the colocation sector means that choosing a vendor is more important than ever. Finding a provider that can meet your specific needs can lead to major benefits over the life of the service plan. With diversity becoming common in the industry, there are still a few attributes of a good vendor that are universal in the industry. Here are five traits you should look for in a colocation provider:

1. Process excellence
A good colocation provider will be able to adapt its processes to support your specific operational needs. This is absolutely vital if you are subscribing to data center services, but it is important even if you are just leasing facility space and getting occasional support from the vendor. A colocation provider should be able to flexibly adjust its processes based on your regulatory and operational requirements.

Control is one of the major benefits that comes with a colocation plan, and a vendor with good processes can refine and adjust its operations in response to client needs.

2. Scalability
Your data center needs are going to change over time. You also can't afford to get locked into a service plan that is going to leave you unable to adjust to shifting needs over time. A colocation provider that offers scalable service models can ensure that you can adjust your hardware capacity over time. However, scalability isn't just about having space for new systems. You also need to make sure the power and network systems offered by the vendor can handle denser hardware configurations.

3. Sustainability
Mega data centers use incredible amounts of power, a problem that is only escalating as more businesses move to the cloud or use colocation services. Corporate social responsibility initiatives and pressure from consumers to operate efficiency means you need a colocation provider that operates in a sustainable way. When trying to evaluate energy efficiency, don't just look at metrics like power usage efficiency. Instead, it is important to look deeply at how the vendor manages power consumption and its long-term plans to ensure sustainable operations.

4. Geographic diversity
Redundancy is a major advantage of working with a colocation provider, and it is a benefit that is extended when vendors have multiple facilities across a few regions. For example, a vendor with a Dallas data center and a facility in Houston can offer companies in Texas multiple locations to back up data, with those facilities far enough apart to protect against common disasters. This diversity can pay off across larger boundaries as well. For example, a company based in the United States, but considering expansion across the pond can colocate their systems locally and in a London data center to ease the expansion.

5. Data center connectivity
Your data is going to need to travel over a significant distance as you work to integrate various cloud services and support remote workers. A data center colocation provider can offer network services that ensure that the data your employees need gets to them reliably and within the performance standards you need. 

Choosing a colocation provider isn't always easy, but if you look closely for these five core attributes you can get off to a good start. In the end, finding a good colocation partner can leave you improving IT functionality in a cost-efficient way for years to come.

There are many key differences between data center colocation and the cloud.

3 ways data center colocation isn’t like the cloud

One common misconception across the technology sector is that working with a colocation provider is like taking on another cloud service. There are plenty of good reasons for this confusion – colocation is a form of IT outsourcing, cloud solutions are often hosted in colocation facilities and colocation delivers many of the cost saving and shared resources benefits that come with the cloud. All told, it is easy to see why colocation is often considered as another branch of the cloud.

The problem is that data center colocation service models are actually distinct from the cloud when it comes to the actual technology. Colocation is built around facility resources, not infrastructure. Let's take a look at three key elements of colocation that are distinct from the cloud to help demystify the data center services picture.

1. Colocation solutions involve facility space
When you invest in the cloud, you are subscribing to application, infrastructure of compute platform resources. Either way, you are paying for the hardware resources used to deliver the resource. In colocation plans, you are paying for space in a data center and any management services you want. This means that where cloud providers try to differentiate through better infrastructure setups, colocation vendors deliver value through advanced facility systems like redundant power and network sources, efficient cooling systems, scalable configurations and robust access control platforms.

2. Colocation is all about control
Most cloud strategies come with the caveat of giving up some control of infrastructure. This is less true with the private cloud, but there is still the possibility that you get locked into how a vendor builds the private cloud if you are using a hosted model. Colocation plans are all about giving customers a facility shell that they can build within. The result is letting your IT teams optimize the configuration for your specific needs and ensure everything is managed in compliance with regulatory standards.

3. Data is kept behind firewalls
One of the risks of the public cloud is that data and applications are housed on shared infrastructure. From there, data and apps are delivered via the Web. Colocation facilities clearly segregate client systems behind independent firewalls and send information to clients through a variety of network channels depending on customer security needs. As such, you can completely protect data in transit and control its route when using colocation.

There are many ways that cloud computing and colocation look alike, but the unique aspects of colocation make the service model a prime option for organizations with significant security demands.

The data center colocation industry is well positioned for growth.

Data center colocation market set for rapid growth

A variety of technology trends are coming together to create considerable demand for data center colocation services. Working with a colocation provider can deliver considerable operational, technological and fiscal benefits, especially when the strategy is managed well, and organizations seem to be taking notice. A recent MarketsandMarkets study found that the global colocation market was valued at approximately $16.65 billion in 2014. The industry will rise at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 17. 6 percent through the next few years, reaching a value of $49.57 billion by 2019.

The study identified three key factors driving colocation industry growth.

1. Data center saturation
The study explained that many organizations have simply run out of space in their corporate data centers. With storage requirements and subsequent processing needs rising at a rapid pace, many businesses have run into a situation in which they can no longer reasonably expand their technology footprint within their existing facilities.

The idea of building a new data center to meet these new needs can be extremely daunting not only because it is expensive and complex, but also because it is extremely difficult to effectively future proof a data center in light of changing technology requirements.

Data center colocation services offer organizations a unique opportunity to access flexible, scalable facility resources that provide more flexibility for the future. According to the news source, the need to meet scalability demands moving forward is leading to considerable interest in colocation services.

2. High internal IT costs
The changing technology requirements facing businesses is leading to considerable in-house IT costs, something that can be especially difficult to deal with as more organizations implement strategies like cloud computing and increase the amount of their budget that is devoted to third-party resources. A colocation plan allows organizations to take advantage of third-party IT services for data, applications and workflows that cannot realistically reside in the cloud at this point. The study found that dealing with high internal IT costs and the need to reduce expenses in general is a major driver for increased colocation demand.

3. Technological advances
High-performance equipment, including more advanced servers and high-capacity storage systems, are coming together to allow organizations to put more data in less physical space. Processing this information, however, is leading to new power and cooling demands as hardware densities rise. All of this is allowing organizations to put more systems into less space, but data processing and storage demands are expanding so quickly that they are filling their data centers anyway.

According to the study, many legacy data centers are not equipped to meet the power and cooling requirements of contemporary systems, and organizations are needing state-of-the-art facility systems to handle their new hardware. All told, advanced hardware is pushing organizations to to implement sophisticated facility resources, and colocation providers are ideally positioned to meet this need. Furthermore, these requirements are leading to demand for robust data center connectivity solutions.

Taking advantage of next-generation colocation functionality
Working with a data center services provider used to be about finding a facility that was well located to support various operational requirements. Over time, colocation became, to some extent, a commodity solution. This has changed. Next-generation colocation models have begun to take hold in a variety of global markets and leading vendors aren't just giving you a place to house your servers, they're offering a sophisticated data center that will give you a competitive advantage.

Contemporary data center colocation models are capable of not only meeting rising IT demands, they are able to meet these needs in a cost-efficient way that delivers considerable value.

Data center colocation can create incredible value through economies of scale.

Economies of scale make data center colocation valuable

Working with a colocation provider often, at first glance, comes across as an expensive option. Building a company-owned data center can be less expensive when it comes to initial capital costs, but a recent CloudTech report explained that colocation creates incredible savings through economies of scale.

According to the news source, the big problem with building a company-owned data center is that the cost-per-rack increases dramatically as you need to expand over time. Conversely, the cost efficiency of building a private data center declines if you build a facility with room for expansion because that unused space can be significant.

The end result of these costs issues is a situation in which, even if you can find the right type of site to build a data center, you have to manage capacity, efficiency and resource consumption extremely carefully, the report explained. All of these cost issues are only part of the problem. Data center colocation services overcome these challenges through economies of scale that let you maximize efficiency and use your money as effectively as possible.

Data center colocation services aren't always designed to be the cheapest solutions available, but they are developed with the intention to maximize value over time, making the service model ideal as organizations face rapidly changing IT demands.

Data center colocation investments can often be about quality and value, not just cutting costs.

Cost balancing key when choosing data center colocation

Turning to a colocation provider is one way organizations can control costs and add functionality to the IT setup. However, using services like colocation, and even the cloud, needs to deliver value for an organization, not just initial costs savings. According to a recent Computerworld UK report, balancing internal and external IT spending and total cost of ownership is critical when it comes to finding success with any IT outsourcing strategy.

The news source explained that many organizations are beginning to embrace solutions like cloud computing and colocation as a way to reduce expenses, but they end up leaving so much of their in-house data center unused that they face huge sunk costs alongside the long-term operational fees that come with outsourcing.

The wasted data center space may not be a big deal if organizations plan to move entirely away from having an internal facility, but the report noted that this isn't the goal for most organizations. The result is a need to balance outsourcing strategies and keep TCO in mind when using various service models.

Colocation isn't always the cheapest option. Vendors that focus on performance, security and reliability already understand this problem. As such, many colocation providers have reached a point where they aren't so much focusing on offering cheap services and are instead emphasizing quality, making it easier to create value.

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