Partnering with a colocation provider can be an excellent way to reduce capital and operational costs. However, colocation is not always a price-focused plan. In fact, increasingly competitive industry dynamics have led many vendors to put less emphasis on price and more of a focus on creating value through advanced technologies and services. This can end up benefiting colocation clients in many ways, but many IT leaders still need to think about keeping costs under control even if they are primarily thinking about value with colocation services.
Avoiding excess spending and generating a return on investment is completely viable when implementing colocation strategies, and a few ways to take complete control of costs include:
1. Keep infrastructure TCO in mind
Total cost of ownership is always a key component of any infrastructure purchasing decision. You don't just want a server, storage system or network solution that is cheap, you need infrastructure that operates efficiently over time and is reliable enough to keep repair and replacement costs under control. These TCO issues become a bit more complex when implementing a data center colocation strategies.
On one hand, organizations that leverage colocation can use the service plan to reduce TCO dramatically by having infrastructure hosted in an incredibly efficient facility system. With a reliable, technically advanced facility in place, infrastructure gets hosted in an optimal environment and is more likely to operate at peak efficiency for long. This can mean that infrastructure that is especially reliable or that offers performance advantages can end up becoming more valuable over time as it thrives in the advanced data center configuration. At the same time, some applications and data sets may be cheaper to put on cheap infrastructure that you can phase out and replace easily in the flexible facility configuration.
Having a clear idea of how you plan on managing your IT setup and how the vendor's facility strategies impacts system functionality can play a key part in helping you maximize value by effectively evaluating TCO.
2. Have a clear long-term plan
Data center sprawl is a major challenge for any organization. Between cloud solutions that are readily available to business users, escalating storage demands and a need to host a variety of application instances to support different mobile operating systems, IT teams find themselves in a situation in which the data center setup quickly becomes too big and unwieldy to manage.
The data center without walls movement is simultaneously a cause of this problem and the clearest solution. Cloud computing, solutions like data center colocation and other data center services are giving companies an opportunity to expand their IT functionality beyond the walls of their data center facility. Essentially, the data center walls become meaningless as the IT configuration can be spread across a variety of internal and third-party facilities to create more flexibility and scalability.
The ability to spread data center resources across a variety of locations creates freedom to expand flexibly and make an efficient data center move to support various projects and efforts. All of this is possible with minimal disruption, and the result is an IT ecosystem that is much easier to expand. This can easily lead to data center sprawl if IT teams are not disciplined enough to keep plans under control.
At the same time, eliminating the limitations of the data center walls means you have the flexibility to adapt to changing IT demands and constantly create value. Taking full advantage of colocation without risking data center sprawl hinges on having a long-term plan in place to ensure all of your decisions are not short-sited, reactionary choices and are, instead, fitting within broad technology plans.
3. Understand what you control
Working with a colocation provider is an opportunity to give up some elements of control in the data center without sacrificing the things you care about. That said, most colocation vendors will also act as a data center services provider, handling some of the infrastructure management for you if you wish. This can be incredibly beneficial as it frees your IT staff from having to deal with all of the systems and makes it easier to move infrastructure to a remote location. However, you also have to make sure the vendor services are creating value for you, not just creating excess costs.
This is where understanding exactly what you control, and what the vendor handles for you, is incredibly important. Regardless of whether your colocation provider is managing your configuration or not, your service level agreement should define which parties are responsible for various tasks. Understanding exactly which things you control and which issues are handled by the vendor makes it easier to balance priorities and maximize efficiency, keeping costs under control as your colocation plan evolves.
Data center colocation is often a key cost control or expense reducing strategy. However, there are ways that poor management can lead to costs getting out of control. Make sure you are taking a holistic approach to your colocation plan to avoid any problems.