6th December 2018

What is a colocation data centre and why might I want to use one?

As the IT function has become more pivotal to every aspect of both profit based and not-for-profit businesses, colocation data centres have become a key part of the IT setup for many different business models.

So what is it?

A colocation data centre is a managed facility that enables organisations to lease space, usually within a dedicated cabinet or rack, or even within a defined and separate cage. The key difference between outsourcing to a wholesale data centre model vs colocation, is that in wholesale, a tenant leases a fully built data centre space in its entirety, whilst in colocation, a client leases a smaller chunk of space with power, cooling, security, engineering services and connectivity to suit their needs.

What’s wrong with keeping my kit where it is on site?

There is nothing wrong in keeping kit on site or in your own dedicated facility, but as organisations draw on increasing computer power and demand more resilient connectivity and flexible capacity, providing the right sort of data centre environment becomes even more complex and therefore more costly. Building, maintaining and managing an in-house data centre is resource heavy, in terms of both CapEx and IT. On a more mundane note, it can also use up vital office space and create unacceptable noise levels.

Why might I want to change my existing arrangements and use a colocation facility?

For many organisations, there comes a point when it is no longer justifiable to invest the risk and effort required to build and subsequently maintain an in-house data centre. Often the consideration to outsource is triggered by change – perhaps a review of the existing IT delivery model or maybe something not directly linked to IT eg a merger or acquisition, an office move, growth that is putting pressure on office space, or a reallocation of costs. Any of these can create a reassessment of existing arrangements but as with any change, for many people the move is an uncomfortable leap into the unknown.

Do all colocation providers offer the same service?

Whilst most providers may appear to deliver all the same things – security, resilience, connectivity and cooling – a look under the covers will show you that there are important distinctions between them, and that what they might claim and what you receive can make an enormous difference to you as the client.

What should I look out for?

  • Location – is it easy for you to access but hard for intruders to reach?
  • Resilience - Evaluate what level of resilience your business needs and what level is built-in to the data centre design, structure and processes.
  • Security – Consider the data centre site itself, its access controls and the operator’s operational diligence.
  • Power - What about the energy efficiency? Data centres are major consumers of energy which can be a concern both environmentally and in running costs.
  • Connectivity - A real choice of connectivity and cloud options helps you select the best mix of services for resilience and costs.
  • Services - What services are available to support you? If something goes wrong, do you know who to speak to? Some providers operate in the same way as a property company, with revenue based simply on leased space, some operate dark sites where out of hours costs are sky high, whilst others such as Datum offer fully serviced colocation where client satisfaction is paramount to our success.
  • Accreditations and site visits – Don’t just take the provider’s word for what they do – check out their official third party accreditations, take time to visit the site and really dig into how they operate and how the resilience and security of the site is maintained.
  • Flexibility and business growth – Does the provider tie you into a fixed contract based on space or will it allow you to flex and grow based on power usage? Can it provide access to a supporting ecosystem of specialist service providers, available where relevant via direct connections, to ensure you have the support as and when you need for transition, operation and growth?

Colocation has the potential to provide exactly what you need for your hybrid IT setup to support your business effectively at a sensible cost. The key to success lies in the ability to build a trusted relationship with a colocation provider who will work with you to support your business, now and in the future. And that means it is important to dig deep. On the surface each provider may appear to offer the same thing, but in reality they don’t – and what may work for one business may not work for yours.

The Datum experience

Datum is trusted by an impressive client list from private and public sectors, serving vertical markets from Finance and Insurance through to IT Security Services and Defence, and including companies from the FTSE 250 and Fortune 500.

Visitors to Datum notice the difference from the moment they arrive at the secure Cody Park reception. And it doesn't stop there. The combination of London-edge location, multi-level access controls, the quality of the data centre design, the use of leading edge technologies and the client-focused service management wrapper makes Datum's data centre colocation service stand out.

To see the difference for yourself, book a tour of the Datum Farnborough data centre online or call 0845 568 0123.

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