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Data center colocation can contribute to major physical security gains.

Data center colocation ideal for physical security

Working with a colocation provider allows organizations to enhance the physical security of their data center assets, a vital consideration as businesses face a wide range of threats. A recent report from Benzinga explained that many companies see all the news about data breaches and tend to focus on various logical security methods, but neglecting physical security can be a major downfall.

Pointing to a variety of large breaches and studies on data protection, the news source explained that a large number of physical data breaches do occur, and common causes include lost or stolen PCs, unauthorized access to server rooms and similar incidents.

While there are many ways to improve physical security, the costs of establishing effective practices can be high. The report explained that implementing a data center colocation plan is often an ideal option for businesses because the leasing model gives them access to advanced security measures in a cost-efficient way.

Physical security best practices can be difficult to enact. Organizations need to combine personnel, technology and facility resources to create a holistic, multi-layered access control and data protection strategy. This results in a situation in which it is often easier to take advantage of solutions like colocation in which the shared data center leasing model spread out the costs of putting security strategies in place.

Cloud computing and data center colocation are often aligned.

Data center colocation can provide a home for the cloud

Partnering with a colocation provider is increasingly common in the cloud sector, but finding the right vendor is imperative to finding success. A recent CloudTech report explained that managed services are rising as a prime option for supporting cloud efforts, particularly as hybrid cloud solutions rise. Cloud vendors trying to find the right setting to house their cloud have a lot to think about.

Issues like data center connectivity, security, reliability and performance make up the core of what organizations need to think about when finding a place to host their cloud infrastructure. Working with partners that can offer 99.999 percent uptime, sophisticated network functionality and other advanced features is critical when trying to keep up with rising demand for cloud services, the report explained. 

Colocation vendors that can also function as a data center services provider can be an asset when trying to host cloud systems, but regardless, companies need to think about more than just the technology. The news source said that businesses also need to carefully consider issues like facility location when choosing a vendor.

A data center colocation provider can serve as an ideal option when organizations are working to find a place to house their cloud systems. Cloud computing requires a unique combination of connectivity, performance and security, and colocation vendors are well positioned to meet these needs.

A variety of technology trends are leading to diversification in the data center colocation sector.

5 reasons data center colocation is not a commodity service

For a long time, choosing a colocation provider was primarily a matter of pointing at a map and choosing whichever vendor offered the best price in the location you were focused on. If you were a business in Houston and wanted a local vendor, you would lease space in a Houston data center and base your choice on whichever service provider offered the best combination of trust and convenience. If you wanted a facility to reach a new market, it was still mostly a matter of choosing the region and selecting an inexpensive service. The major difference is that you would want to make sure the colocation vendor was a good data center services provider. For a while, colocation services were a commodity with little difference between service options and vendors.

This simple vendor selection landscape is disappearing, but the result is a better environment for organizations trying to leverage colocation solutions. Changing technology trends, more sophisticated data center constructed methodologies and diverse IT service opportunities has left colocation providers working to differentiate themselves from the combination. Colocation is no longer a commodity. Five especially noteworthy reasons why colocation services are diversifying include:

1. Cloud computing
With more organizations implementing hybrid cloud solutions, many companies find themselves needing to find a better way to integrate between private clouds, public clouds and traditional IT systems. One of the greatest integration challenges when dealing with the cloud is needing to address the wide variety of sources that information comes from. One one side of the network you have different cloud service vendors, internal IT systems and private cloud clusters as separate sources and destinations for content. On the other, you have users who can access data from workstations in the office, through the Web or by using mobile apps and services.

The result of this hybridized cloud environment is a need for a flexible, powerful and centralized network solution that can be a hub for data, and some colocation vendors are differentiating themselves by focusing on data center connectivity.

2. Cloud computing: The Sequel
I promise, we're talking about something a bit different here. Cloud computing isn't just leading to issues with hybridization, it is also creating a variety of performance challenges.

Businesses turning to the cloud have long known that the underlying virtualization architectures that make the cloud work can lead to performance challenges when running data-intensive workloads or particularly performance-sensitive applications. This is leading to the rise of bare-metal cloud solutions and similar performance-focused cloud systems that depend on extremely sophisticated data center architectures, including advanced connectivity options. Colocation providers that are trying to get ahead in this space often differentiate themselves by offering a fairly unique combination of solutions that can resolve cloud performance challenges.

3. High-density computing
The data center consolidation movement may not be big news at the moment, but that is only because it has matured so much that it is taking on a slightly different form. Many organizations are still consolidating their data centers, but the result is a hybrid IT environment in which cloud and non-cloud resources need to interact with ease. This often leads to an environment in which organizations are heavily virtualizing their systems and increasing hardware density in racks and cabinets. With more data in less hardware the infrastructure has to be more robust and run at higher utilization rates. This is possible, but only with advanced power and network systems that can support this density.

High-density computing is a complex and difficult matter, but building facilities that can host this type of infrastructure is becoming a key competitive point in colocation, with some vendors working hard to meet shifting enterprise IT needs.

4. Data-intensive research
The big data movement is helping organizations unlock the full potential of the information at their disposal, but doing so depends on capturing and analyzing huge data sets. From there, many companies end up running simulations based on that data that create even more information. High-performance computing systems are becoming more popular in enterprise segments as data-intensive research takes hold, and the potential value of predictive analytics and similar functions is becoming clear.

Many organizations are excited about HPC options, but don't have the kind of data center needed to support such functionality. Some colocation providers are choosing to differentiate themselves by creating facilities that can support HPC systems and do so in a cost-efficient way.

5. Regulatory compliance
The simplest point comes up last – many companies are facing regulatory pressure and need to simplify matters. Working with data center services vendors that can operate in compliance with regulatory laws makes everything easier and allows some colocation providers to differentiate themselves from competitors.

There are still some colocation providers out there designed to host your infrastructure as inexpensively as possible, but the decommoditization of the colocation sector is leading to more diversity and increasingly advanced service options. As such, colocation decisions are now just as much about functionality as they are about issues like location and cost.

Data center connectivity options are often a priority when choosing colocation.

Data center connectivity central to colocation’s rise

Data center colocation has always been an industry built around network services. The state-of-the-art facilities to host infrastructure, the ability to house cloud systems and the incredibly redundant infrastructure architectures are all important parts of colocation services, but connectivity has always been the foundation. This emphasis on the network is a big reason why colocation is becoming more popular.

Reporting from its own Data Center & Infrastructure Summit, tech publication Computing explained that industry expert Omer Wilson told audiences that connectivity is proving the key reason why organizations are turning to colocation.

Looking at the need for data center connectivity
According to the news source, Wilson told audiences at the event that trends like big data are leaving businesses handling more data than ever. At the same time, it is clear that these data rates are only escalating moving forward. The result is an environment in which the robust connectivity options offered by colocation vendors are incredibly attractive.

“The reason people are colocating is the humungous amount of data traffic, the continuing upward curve of that data and the requirement of analytics and other use of this data,” said Wilson.

Cloud computing is also having a huge impact on colocation demand.

Colocation and the cloud
The report explained that Wilson told audiences that colocation is rising as more businesses engage in hybrid cloud strategies. Colocation services offer the edge of giving users full control of their infrastructure while also offering the connectivity options needed to move data freely between different public and private cloud services. The result is an optimal operational climate to support data integration between cloud and non-cloud systems.

In this kind of setup, organizations leveraging colocation don’t just benefit from connectivity, but they also gain substantially because of the reliability, resiliency and latency-related advantages on offer by colocation vendors, Wilson explained.

Colocation and cloud computing are closely tied together. In fact, the relationship is so tightly knit that there is some confusion about the differences between the services. However, a close analysis makes things clear. In the public cloud, the vendor hosts manages all of the infrastructure and clients have the ability to do some of the app management on their own through Web portals. Private clouds are owned and operated by the business using it, but they can also be housed in colocation facilities and managed by the colocation vendor through a data center services plan. Colocation can be used to house cloud systems or traditional architecture, it is, at its core, a data center leasing model.

Working with a colocation provider can give organizations a major reliability edge.

3 reliability benefits that come with data center colocation

Many businesses will work with a colocation provider because they want access to more reliable data center resources. This common strategy is popular for a reason – colocation vendors build their business model around offering the best data center resources possible. The result is an operational climate in which clients benefit from significant facility advantages that would be largely inaccessible in a typical corporate data center.

A few particularly noteworthy reliability benefits that come with colocation plans include:

Network redundancy
Building a backup network is expensive and cost prohibitive in the vast majority of technology environments. Data center colocation is one of the few exceptions to this rule. Colocation vendors feature data center connectivity solutions that offer high-bandwidth interconnects between facilities and operator networks in a high volume. As such, it is much easier and more cost efficient to make those interconnects redundant, ensuring network reliability. 

Superior power setups
Having high-capacity power systems helps improve reliability by being prepared to support peak demand. Have redundant power systems ensures resiliency. Deploying effective switchover technologies to move between power sources in the event of an outage helps maximize uptime. Having access to multiple power generation sources puts data center operators in a position to access energy even if there is a power outage in the area. Few business can afford to establish all of these solutions at their data centers, but they are fairly standard at colocation facilities. 

Reliability is a critical component of the colocation business model. Providers must be able to demonstrate that they offer extremely reliable services or they won’t get customers, so they have plenty of reason to invest in a wide range of power management and delivery solutions to ensure client systems remain available at all times.

Advanced management functionality
Most IT workers are capable of helping out in the data center, but few are trained specifically to manage and maintain such a complex and large configuration. Furthermore, expert facilities workers are also needed, particularly in an emergency, to deal with the complex systems in a state-of-the-art data center. Hiring these types of workers can be cost prohibitive for most companies, but again, the colocation business model comes into play. When the goal is to give companies what they can’t build on their own, the result is functionality that is tough to match in traditional data center environments. This stems to employee skills and facility management tools.

Reliability is increasingly critical for businesses in any sector, and colocation plans lay the groundwork for more resilient data center operations.

Data center colocation can play a key part in supporting cloud initiatives.

Data center colocation plays key role in cloud plans

Working with a colocation provider often ends up playing a critical role in supporting cloud computing efforts. Colocation can have a variety of uses is cloud strategies, not least of which being that some cloud providers actually host their infrastructure in colocation facilities. It is also common for organizations to use colocation services to handle the infrastructure that isn't easily moved into the cloud. According to a recent Oxford Economics survey covered by eWeek, organizations should plan to use colocation as part of their cloud migration plan.

Using colocation alongside the cloud
The Oxford Economics study found that many organizations find the process of transitioning to the cloud incredibly difficult. Many organizations run into trouble with issues like moving data to the new facility and getting access to the network speeds they need to support day-to-day operations. The eWeek report cataloged these important elements of the study and also highlighted the growing role that colocation is playing in supporting cloud efforts.

According to the news source, Oxford Economics explained that businesses will rarely be able to move all of their infrastructure or applications into the cloud. Instead, the vast majority of organizations will have some systems that need to be hosted in a traditional data center environment. If a company is planning to make a complete move into the cloud, some cloud vendors operate in facilities that can also support colocation. This lets users put their non-cloud infrastructure in the same facility as their cloud systems, making it much easier to move data between the two.

This strategy works well in the event that your cloud vendor is housing infrastructure in a facility that can also support colocation, but working with a colocation provider can ease data integration challenges even if the information is housed remotely.

Taking full advantage of colocation
A data center colocation plan includes a combination of network resources, including high-performance interconnects and robust internal connectivity systems, that allow organizations to easily support smooth data workflows between colocation facilities and cloud configurations. This can be a huge asset for organizations trying to move to the cloud, as few companies go all in on the technology. Instead, many experts agree that organizations are implementing the cloud where it makes sense, but using other services or hosting systems internally when the cloud isn't the right fit. Businesses that aren't trying to shoehorn everything into the cloud, but do want to optimize their IT setup with cloud strategies in mind, benefit substantially from colocation strategies that create a data integration hub.

Data center colocation can contribute to significant sustainability gains.

Data center colocation and sustainability – The great debate

Businesses that work with a colocation provider can use the partnership to improve their sustainability as an organization, right? That’s a question that has been dogging not only the colocation sector, but the entire IT outsourcing industry as more organizations work to improve energy efficiency while also improving IT functionality. The simple answer is yes, making a data center move into a colocation facility or using the cloud can lead to sustainability gains. However, that doesn’t mean it always does. Businesses that want to improve energy efficiency while outsourcing parts of their IT configuration need to make sure their strategic and technical decisions back this tactic in every phase of operations.

The importance of refined strategies when striving to improve sustainability creates an environment in which companies need to understand the nuanced dynamics of what happens, from an energy efficiency standpoint, when they turn to solutions like data center colocation.

Clear efficiency benefits of data center colocation
Most corporate data centers are shoehorned into an existing office building. Companies will usually devote a room or a large closet to housing their servers, try to get some extra energy delivered to that location and turn the air conditioning up about as high as it can go. The result is an incredibly inefficient operational climate. Businesses that operate dedicated data centers usually fall into one of three categories – they have a legacy facility that they can’t afford to move out of, they have a fairly new data center, but couldn’t do everything they wanted during construction because of budget constraints or they are in a fairly unique situation like Facebook or Google and derive value by building a completely state-of-the-art facility.

The third type of organization doesn’t really play a part in this conversation. These businesses can benefit from colocation, and many of them do. You might be surprised by how many cloud vendors are actually running their IT infrastructure out of colocation facilities, for example. But most organizations facing major sustainability challenges that they cannot easily solve are either operating their data center within an office building or fit into one of the first two categories of operating a dedicated data center.

In situations faced by these businesses, colocation provides clear efficiency gains. Vendor facilities often feature a variety of technologies and solutions that ensure energy is used as effectively as possible. These can include:

  • Power delivery systems that minimize loss when getting energy out to devices
  • Sophisticated cooling solutions that are often out of the price range for corporate data centers
  • Special partnerships with utility providers to deliver energy from the best sources possible
  • On-site renewable power generation
  • Buildings specifically designed to optimize airflow
  • Modular design principles

All together, these types of advanced facility systems can lead to major sustainability gains because colocation providers access power as efficiently as possible and make sure it is used in an optimal way. In the end, colocation providers can offer superior energy efficiency because their business model is built around offer the best data center resources possible. That said, turning to a colocation provider does not mean that you are going to end up with a more sustainable IT setup. Instead, you need to make sure you put the right strategies in place to maximize energy efficiency and leverage the inherent benefits of colocation.

Factors that can limit energy efficiency when implementing colocation plans
A colocation provider can offer a facility that creates incredibly sustainability benefits, but how you use the space you have leased – including the way you manage the configuration, can undo many of these benefits. With that in mind, consider two key sustainability pitfalls that can come into play when using colocation plans.

1. Inefficient management
A colocation facility will house your systems in a remote location. This means having your IT workers hop in a car and drive out to the data center. The greenhouse gas emission issues here are clear, and overly frequent trips can undo some of the efficiency gains that go hand in hand with colocation. This is especially true if you are sending multiple workers out to the facility on a daily or almost daily basis. The frequency with which you’ll have to travel to a colocation facility depends on how you are using the service and if you are taking advantage of your colocation vendor’s ability to operate as a data center services provider. However, carpooling, having workers dedicated to handling the configuration in the colocation facility or using remote management tools can all eliminate the problems caused by inefficient management methodologies.

2. Poor configuration optimization
All of the facility resources in the world aren’t going to help you use significantly less energy if your actual IT configuration is not optimized well for sustainability. In colocation plans, you still control how systems are housed on the rack, cable routing within your portion of the facility and other key elements of the configuration that can impact efficiency. Putting an inefficient configuration into a colocation facility will limit the sustainability benefits your business gets.

Data center colocation can be used to deliver incredible sustainability gains, but organizations that want to leverage these benefits need to understand how they need to contribute to efficiency to make sure they don’t undo the advantages colocation brings them.

Effective planning goes a long way toward ensuring data center colocation success.

3 steps to establishing a data center colocation plan

Partnering with a colocation provider can be incredibly profitable for businesses as they work to keep up with changing dynamics in the IT sector. However, finding success with colocation is not just a matter of picking a facility and sticking systems there. Colocation can be a disruptive service model and, while the results can be incredibly beneficial, organizations need to be ready to deal with that disruption.

One of the best ways to avoid running into problems with colocation is to plan effectively. It may sound trite, but being prepared for the various operational and technical changes that go hand in hand with colocation is integral to finding success. Following these three steps can go a long way toward helping you get a colocation plan off on the right foot:

Step 1: Analyze your business and IT needs
Data center colocation plans usually feature multi-year contracts. Service providers are often flexible about the nuances of the plan, making scalability an option and helping you avoid problems like vendor lock in. The commitment that comes with colocation doesn't have to be a risk. Instead, organizations that effectively analyze both their business and IT needs and project how those requirements will change over time can use the stability of colocation to create a smoother pathway to innovation.

Step 2: Figure out exactly what you want colocation to accomplish
Colocation plans can be used for a variety of purposes ranging from disaster recovery to hosting high-performance computing systems. Focus is important when implementing a colocation plan. If you get wishy-washy about what you want the partnership to accomplish, then you can end up finding yourself with an unfocused, disorganized and unnecessarily expensive situation.

Luckily for businesses, colocation providers are increasingly differentiating themselves by getting really good at a few things. Most can handle a wide range of hosting needs, but some will emphasize regulatory compliance and data center services while others may focus of hosting high-performance configurations, for example. With vendors getting more specialized, it can be easier for companies to stay focused on what they really need.

Step 3: Negotiate a good SLA
An effective service level agreement will create a mutually-beneficial partnership. Both the service provider and the client need to have confidence in the SLA, and businesses establishing a colocation plan need to take the contract incredibly seriously. SLAs create an opportunity to not only protect yourself against something from going wrong, but also establish a culture of collaboration and trust within the service plan.

Implementing a colocation plan can be disruptive, but effective planning can ensure organizations are ready to avoid problems when getting started.

Data center colocation can be ideal for companies working to implement third-party IT infrastructure hosting.

Data center colocation impacted by infrastructure hosting’s rise

Many businesses are working to outsource elements of their IT infrastructure and data center colocation providers are among the organizations that will benefit from these plans. Companies are becoming more dependent on IT all the time and find themselves needing to find ways to host their infrastructure more efficiently. This is contributing to increased demand for infrastructure hosting services including colocation, virtual private server use, managed hosting and hybrid hosting. According to a recent TechNavio report, these four verticals are set to combine to create revenue expansion at a compound annual growth rate of 8.68 percent for IT infrastructure hosting during the period of 2013 to 2018.

According to the news source, improving IT efficiency is a primary motivating point of moving to infrastructure hosting. Many companies are facing mounting challenges in areas like data storage and networking, but cannot easily adopt cutting-edge solutions internally. Infrastructure hosting models are rising because more organizations are realizing that they can reduce their operational costs and focus on their core competencies if they have third-party providers handle some of their IT systems.

Working with a colocation provider is an excellent way to eliminate IT overhead by taking advantage of sophisticated facility resources and potentially alleviating the management burden facing IT teams.

Benefits of using colocation for infrastructure hosting
Many colocation vendors also operate as a data center services provider, meaning that they will help you manage and maintain the IT systems you host in their facilities. With this service option in mind, a few of the key benefits that go hand in hand with colocation hosting include:

Better network systems: Data center connectivity is a priority in colocation environments. Vendors offer a combination of internal network systems, high-performance interconnects and access to diverse operator systems to ensure customers can get the best network solution possible. Furthermore, many colocation providers are vendor neutral, making it much easier to establish the best solution possible based on a company's location, telecom service provider and customer base. Connectivity services may have been a secondary consideration in the past, but increased demand for solutions like video and Web apps are putting pressure on businesses to improve their networks, and colocation makes that possible in a cost-efficient way.

Scalability: Contemporary businesses need to be able to adjust their IT configurations more flexibly than they had to in the past. This is particularly true in the storage segment of the data center, but is also evident in server and network configurations. The need to scale infrastructure quickly means that businesses need access to high-capacity power and cooling systems as well as enough facility space to add new systems. This flexibility is often cost prohibitive in an internal data center, but entirely feasible when leveraging a colocation service.

Security: Colocation facilities feature robust access control systems, workers who are trained to follow regulatory guidelines based on client requirements and advanced monitoring and management tools that offer data protection that many companies cannot match internally. finding ways to protect data in line with regulatory laws is critical in a variety of industries, and colocation providers are often uniquely equipped to put advanced security practices in place.

Efficiency: Many of the best tools for building, maintaining and managing a data center are so expensive that only a few major organizations can actually afford them. Colocation providers, however, build their entire business model around having the best data centers possible. As such, their facilities often offer major efficiency gains when compared to most corporate data centers, ensuring that customers leasing space in a colocation facility are using their money well.

Implementing a colocation plan can be about more than just infrastructure hosting. The benefits of the service model can be so substantial that colocation ends up serving as a key innovation enabler for organizations.

Security gains are common when organizations implement data center colocation plans.

Security integral to compliance plans in data center colocation

Businesses that work with a colocation provider often gain access to facility capabilities that are difficult to leverage in a private data center. A recent SC Magazine report explained that organizations that want to comply with regulatory standards while leveraging colocation need to make sure multi-layered security strategies are in place.

The report explained that security is critical for data center colocation vendors because effective data protection has a significant impact on service level agreements. Many colocation clients need vendors to comply with regulatory standards and protect sensitive strategic data. This means taking security beyond logical protection methods like network monitoring and anti-malware programs and also incorporate multiple tiers of physical security.

The news source noted that security plans in colocation facilities will often feature multiple layers, with the actual server racks serving as the last line of defense against physical intrusion. Specialized locks on racks and cabinets can ensure that data is kept safe even when other forms of access control fail.

Data center colocation often ends up eliminating risk because vendors are forced to specialize in data protection. The shared nature of facilities and the industry's foundation in the competitive automated trading sector has left many colocation vendors experts in asset protection, making the service model ideal in industries that handle large amounts of sensitive data.

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