Data center colocation a prime option for hybrid clouds

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

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

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

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

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

Data center colocation – an evolving industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s plenty to consider when choosing a colocation provider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 ways data center colocation is better than building a facility

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environment laws set to stimulate data center colocation in UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Differentiation becoming common in data center colocation

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

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

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

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

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

5 reasons data center connectivity is key in colocation plans

Data center connectivity is a key component of colocation strategies.

Data center colocation partnerships give organizations access to connectivity services that can be invaluable as IT demands change. Organizations are facing a variety of unique technological developments that are unifying into a new generation of IT functionality. The end result is major disruption in how data gets to end users and the network is central in this process. 

With cloud computing, big data, increased video use, advanced Web hosting and remote work concepts all having a major impact on businesses, organizations are left scrambling figuring out how to get information to users quickly and without taking on excess costs. Colocation can be an ideal option in this scenario because it is well suited to meeting the networking demands of a variety of technology types. A few specific reasons to keep data center connectivity in mind when making your colocation plans include:

1. Colocation is ideal for the cloud
Cloud computing often depends on organizations receiving data from a variety of sources and integrating it with applications and services hosted in a combination of internal and cloud data centers. This can prove incredibly difficult to manage from a performance perspective because users could be getting data from all over the country and dealing with the latency created by that geographic distance.

Advanced connectivity solutions provided via a colocation plan can combine high-performance interconnects with access to strategic operator networks to create a centralized location for data gathering and transmission, making it much easier to integrate information from various cloud sources.

2. Big data will hog your bandwidth
Big data strategies involve gathering both structured and unstructured information pertaining to an organization from a diverse range of sources. All of this information then needs to be analyzed and either used in real time, disposed of or set aside for strategic purposes. The end result is a constant stream of data from sources like transactions, social media and internal communications. This can result in an incredible burden on networks. Colocation plans can provide the network bandwidth needed to support big data both within the hosted data center configuration and through interconnects.

3. Video success hinges on low latency
Ethernet networks are built to automatically drop data packets when all of the bandwidth is in use to prevent the connection from getting clogged. The network then resends the data packet automatically, leading to an extremely minor delay that is usually entirely unnoticeable. This delay becomes a problem, however, if it happens repeatedly or with content that is sensitive to latency. Video data packets can use a large portion of a network's bandwidth on their own, making them prone to issues with dropped data packets. At the same time, video is particularly sensitive to latency.

This situation results in an environment in which latency must be removed, which is often most easily accomplished through a combination of high-bandwidth network resources and intelligent routing solutions. The connectivity options offered by colocation providers are founded in the early principles of the sectors development, which is high-frequency automated traders. These organizations benefit from milliseconds gained in data transmission, so colocation facilities are often built near operator networks that allow them to establish incredibly efficient networks. As such, colocation plans often provide an ideal option for organizations trying to deal with the connectivity challenges brought on by video.

4. Routing matters
In a business world impacted by the data center without walls movement, organizations are dealing with data moving from a wider range of locations than ever. At the same time, more and more companies need to have customer-facing content in place to support a geographically diverse user base. Colocation makes it easier to get data and applications closer to key user or customer bases, but chances are you can't build a data center everywhere that you may have demand. This is where advanced connectivity strategies come into play.

This is where having connections with the right operator networks becomes so important. Operator networks are located strategically around the world and provide a foundational interconnection between major cities. Colocation providers use these systems as the starting point for getting client data to its destination quickly, and which operator networks a colocation provider can access plays a key role in finding success with a partnership.

5. Flexibility is key
Organizations need their data centers to be more flexible than ever as emerging technologies take hold. This includes the network systems as the Internet of Things movement and other emerging trends create unique network demands that cannot always be solved just by throwing more bandwidth at the problem. Colocation enables organizations to gain access to advanced resources without the capital costs and disruption of having to purchase and install those systems themselves, leading to a much more flexible configuration that can be adapted based on changing requirements.

Many of the emerging technological movements impacting contemporary businesses have a significant affect on the network, making connectivity a vital consideration in colocation plans.

Data center colocation ideal for startups

Data center colocation can be particularly attractive for startups with sophisticated IT demands.

Turning to a colocation provider can be a viable option for organizations of all sizes. However, the unique dynamics of startups makes colocation an especially attractive option. A recent Entrepreneur report explained that startups face an especially challenging fiscal climate and benefit substantially with effective IT partnerships to alleviate the burden of owning and managing technology infrastructure.

Industry expert Seth Bailey told the news source that owners establishing a startup businesses should avoid the temptation to try and become an IT expert and just let another organization handle the issue.

"Most entrepreneurs know they can outsource services such as web design, marketing and book keeping, but one of the biggest costs for a growing business is IT," Bailey told the news source. "There are many groups that provide outsourced IT services. These services can range from computer maintenance and care, cloud hosting and colocation and telephone system setup and maintenance."

Data center colocation isn't just ideal for an average startup. Many startups in niche industries actually need access to sophisticated compute resources and robust storage functionality. Startups in sectors where IT functionality is critical stand to gain even more from colocation as the service model can unlock access to high-performance computing, architectures that support big data or integrated cloud services without the cost of building an internal data center.

Data center connectivity critical as cloud computing rises

Data center connectivity solutions can pay dividends as more organizations implement cloud plans.

Cloud computing is changing how businesses approach their IT strategies, including their data center colocation plans. The core value propositions of working with a colocation provider are still active in a cloud-focused IT world, but there are many secondary benefits that colocation can offer organizations. Connectivity gains are among the most important of these issues, as cloud computing creates a variety of network challenges that colocation providers are uniquely positioned to address.

The network challenges of the cloud
Cloud computing presents new networking issues in two primary ways:

1. Data transit methods: In a traditional data center setup, the vast majority of data being delivered to end users starts in the data center and moves through a dedicated network channel into the office LAN. High-performance WAN configurations may be used to interconnect with branch offices, but the LAN functions as the network handling the vast majority of active application data. This works well because it is much less expensive to create a high-bandwidth LAN network than it is to subscribe to telecom networks that handle large amounts of data, which is exactly what the cloud forces organizations to do.

Instead of depending on internal networks to move data to end users, cloud computing works by transmitting information over the Web. This means that more data is coming through the WAN or other external networks that generally have less bandwidth and are more expensive to upgrade.

2. Data sources: Cloud computing also creates an environment in which data is coming into the corporate network from a wider range of sources – be it users getting the job done from mobile devices or resources coming from multiple cloud vendors. This diversity forces organizations to build much more flexible networks that can deal with a wide range of workload types because data is coming from so many locations into the corporate network.

Using colocation to overcome network issues brought on by the cloud
Data center connectivity solutions that come with colocation plans are built specifically to offer robust, high-performance interconnects between data centers. This is accomplished through a unique combination of interconnects and access to the best operator network configurations.

Colocation providers can create a direct and reliable connection for Web-based cloud resources, giving IT leaders the flexibility and performance they need to support diverse cloud plans. In many cases, colocation setups can be used to serve as a hub where cloud-related data enters a business' configuration and then is dispersed to various offices and users.

Planning key to controlling data center colocation costs

Data center colocation can be expensive, but it also has incredible potential for value creation.

Working with a colocation provider can help organizations create value in a variety of ways. However, the potential of colocation can also leave many organizations tempted to spend recklessly and end up with unexpected costs within the colocation deal. According to a recent TechTarget report, colocation costs can spiral out of control if organizations are not careful about how they use the technology service. However, effectively focusing on the core reasons why a company implements a colocation plan in the first place can help organizations avoid excess costs.

Staying true to the colocation vision
There are plenty of reasons to implement a data center colocation strategy. The news source explained that some organizations will turn to colocation because they do not have the power capacity they need in their internal data center. In other cases, a company may need more facility space, want a remote data center disaster recovery implement colocation to place applications and services closer to a prominent user base. Regardless of the specific reason why a company chooses a colocation plan, it is vital that the business remains true to that core principle as its strategies evolve over time.

Controlling colocation costs begins at the outset of the initiative. Businesses that want to position themselves to avoid unnecessary spending need to get that process started on the right foot. According to the report, many companies will overspend on colocation because they purchase facility space that they don't really need and end up not being able to use the colocation setup as efficiently as possible. Finding success in this area involves understanding exactly what you need out of the colocation plan and making sure your initial subscription plans fit that need.

Such careful initial evaluations also require organizations to understand how much it will cost to scale the colocation plan over time. The report noted that organizations will need to plan to adjust their colocation plan over time and work with a vendor that will meet their scalability needs while keeping costs under control.

Creating value through effective colocation plans
Colocation is not always an inexpensive IT service option. Instead, such partnerships can end up creating costs that are greater than hosting systems internally. However, colocation also introduces opportunities to leverage sophisticated technologies, network solutions and facility resources that would be incredibly difficult to establish internally. Colocation may sometimes be expensive, but organizations that spend effectively end up creating new value opportunities.