What is Colocation?
Unleashing the Potential of Data Centre Partnership
What is Colocation?
Unleashing the Potential of Data Centre Partnership
If you’re a business leader or decision-maker, you know the importance of high-speed internet connectivity, secure data storage and transfer, and reliable performance. The problem is, that’s not always possible.
Colocation is the answer.
In this guide, we’ll share the ins and outs of colocation data centres, and show how your business can benefit.
Read on to find out more.
Click to jump ahead.
- What is colocation?
- What is a colocation data centre?
- What are the benefits of colocation for businesses?
- Key features of colocation services
- Choosing the right colocation provider
- Colocation best practices
- Case studies: successful colocation implementations
- Future trends in colocation
- Overview & final thoughts
What is colocation?
Colocation, often shortened to “colo”, involves housing an organisation's IT infrastructure, including servers, networking equipment, and storage devices, within a third-party data centre facility. The data centre will be owned and run by a trusted partner (Pulsant, for example).
Unlike traditional hosting options, colocation enables your business to retain full control over its hardware and data while leveraging the data centre's robust infrastructure and expertise.
What is a colocation data centre?
A data centre is a centralised facility equipped with advanced computing resources, networking equipment, and storage infrastructure designed to store and manage data securely and efficiently. It serves as the backbone of the digital world, facilitating the smooth functioning of applications, cloud services, and mission-critical processes.
In the context of colocation services, data centres offer a unique proposition. Rather than maintaining their own on-premises data centre, businesses can opt to colocate their IT equipment and servers within a third-party data centre provider's facility. This arrangement allows businesses to access the data centre's robust infrastructure and expertise while maintaining full control over their IT assets.
Essentially, colocation transforms the data centre into a shared environment where multiple organisations house their equipment, leading to resource optimisation and cost-effectiveness.
However, colocation data centres go beyond merely providing a shared environment for IT equipment. They excel in delivering resiliency and redundancy, ensuring businesses achieve the highest levels of uptime and availability for their applications and services.
Colocation providers invest in redundant power sources, such as dual utility feeds and backup generators, to eliminate single points of failure in power supply. In the event of a power outage, backup systems kick in seamlessly, guaranteeing uninterrupted operations and safeguarding businesses against costly downtime.
They also employ multiple network carriers and redundant network paths, mitigating the risk of network outages. This redundant network design provides businesses with a reliable and highly available network infrastructure, boosting the performance and reliability of their digital services.
The resiliency and redundancy offered by colocation data centres result in an impressive 99% uptime guarantee, providing businesses with the confidence to operate their critical applications and services without interruption. The data centre's shared environment optimises resource utilisation and cost-effectiveness, making colocation an attractive option for businesses of all sizes.
What services are offered by data centres?
Data centres offer a wide array of services and facilities tailored to meet the diverse needs of modern businesses. These include:
- Physical Security: Data centres maintain stringent security measures, such as biometric access controls, surveillance cameras, and security personnel, to safeguard sensitive data and equipment from unauthorised access.
- Redundant Power Supply: To ensure uninterrupted operations, data centres often have multiple power sources, including backup generators and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, protecting against power outages.
- Network Connectivity: Data centres provide high-speed, redundant network connections to enable seamless data transfer and smooth access to the internet and cloud services.
- Climate Control: Advanced cooling systems maintain an optimal temperature within the data centre to prevent equipment overheating and ensure optimal performance. They also feature redundancy for cooling by having backup air conditioning units that kick in if the primary unit fails.
- 24/7 Monitoring and Support: Skilled technicians and engineers monitor the data centre infrastructure round-the-clock, addressing any issues promptly to ensure maximum uptime and reliability.
What are the benefits of colocation for businesses?
In the digital age, where data-driven operations and uninterrupted connectivity are critical for business success, colocation is a powerful solution for enterprises of all sizes.
There are several key benefits of colocation for businesses, including:
- Robust infrastructure: Colocation data centres are designed with state-of-the-art physical infrastructure, including redundant power sources, cooling systems, and advanced security measures. These features ensure high availability and optimal performance of critical systems, enabling seamless operations and reducing the risk of downtime.
- Scalability and flexibility: As your business grows and its IT requirements evolve, colocation allows you to easily scale your infrastructure to meet changing demands. Whether expanding server capacity or adopting new technologies, colocation providers offer the flexibility needed to accommodate future growth without the complexity of building and maintaining an on-premises data centre.
- Enhanced connectivity: Colocation data centres are strategically located with robust network connectivity, enabling you to access high-speed internet connections and direct connections to cloud service providers. This connectivity ensures efficient data transfer, supports real-time applications, and empowers your business with seamless access to cloud resources.
- Cost savings: Constructing and managing an in-house data centre can be cost-prohibitive for many businesses. Colocation offers a cost-effective alternative by allowing organisations to share data centre infrastructure costs with other clients. This shared approach reduces capital expenditures and operational expenses, making colocation a budget-friendly solution.
- Data security and compliance: Colocation providers implement robust security measures and adhere to industry standards and compliance regulations. This ensures that your business' valuable data and sensitive information remain protected against potential threats and meet the requirements of data protection laws.
- Focus on core competencies: By entrusting data centre management to colocation experts, businesses can shift their focus and resources to core competencies and strategic initiatives. This enhanced focus on core functions fosters innovation, agility, and competitive advantage in a rapidly changing business landscape.
What are the key features of colocation services?
Colocation services offer businesses a range of critical features that are essential for creating a robust and dependable IT infrastructure. These features are designed to cater to the diverse needs of modern enterprises, ensuring optimal performance, security, and scalability.
The physical infrastructure of a colocation data centre is the backbone of its operations. Colocation facilities are purpose-built with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure reliability and efficiency. Key components of the physical infrastructure include:
- Power: Colocation data centres provide a reliable and redundant power supply to ensure uninterrupted operations. They have multiple power sources, such as utility feeds and backup generators, to safeguard against power outages and ensure continuous uptime.
- Cooling: Advanced cooling systems maintain the optimal temperature within the data centre, preventing equipment overheating and ensuring peak performance of servers and networking devices.
- Security: Physical security is paramount in a colocation facility. Data centres implement stringent access controls, which can include biometric scanners, surveillance cameras, secure perimeters and security personnel, to safeguard against unauthorised access to the data centre premises and protect valuable equipment and data.
Network connectivity is a critical aspect of colocation services. Data centres offer robust, redundant, high-speed network connections to ensure seamless data transfer and internet and cloud services access. Features related to network connectivity include:
- Redundant network paths: Colocation providers set up redundant network paths to eliminate single points of failure. This redundant network design ensures high availability and minimises the risk of downtime.
- Carrier neutrality: Data centres often embrace carrier neutrality, providing clients with the flexibility to choose from multiple network service providers. This choice empowers your business to select the most suitable network connectivity options based on your specific requirements.
Scalability and flexibility
One of the key advantages of colocation services is the scalability and flexibility they offer. Businesses can easily expand or reduce their IT infrastructure as needed without incurring significant costs or operational disruptions. The key features promoting scalability and flexibility in colocation include:
- Cabinet and rack space: Colocation facilities offer businesses the option to lease cabinet or rack space, allowing them to scale their server and equipment footprint as their needs evolve.
- Power and bandwidth options: Colocation providers typically offer various power and bandwidth options to accommodate businesses of different sizes and requirements. This flexibility enables you to align your colocation resources with your business’ specific workload demands.
Choosing the right colocation provider
Selecting the right colocation provider is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success and efficiency of your business’ IT operations. To make an informed choice, you should carefully consider several essential factors that distinguish reputable and reliable colocation providers.
Location, accessibility, and connectivity
The accessibility of the colocation data centre is a pivotal consideration, particularly for businesses with on-site IT staff or third-party engineers who may need to visit the facility for maintenance, upgrades, or troubleshooting. Choosing a data centre within a convenient distance minimises travel time and costs for your technical team. This proximity enables faster response times during critical situations, expediting issue resolution and ensuring uninterrupted operations.
Pulsant understands the significance of strategic physical location and goes above and beyond to provide geographically dispersed data centres. Our data centre locations are thoughtfully chosen to cater to the diverse needs of businesses across various industries.
With our extensive network of data centres spread strategically across multiple regions, including urban and suburban locations, Pulsant stands out from other colocation providers.
Finally, evaluate the network connectivity options offered by the provider. Look for carriers and internet service providers (ISPs) with a diverse and redundant network infrastructure that will ensure seamless connectivity and high availability.
Reputation and track record
A colocation provider's reputation and track record in the industry play a vital role in assessing its reliability. Research customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies to gain insights into their performance and customer satisfaction levels. Seek out providers with a proven track record of delivering high-quality services and maintaining excellent uptime.
Certifications and compliance
Colocation providers with industry certifications and compliance adherence demonstrate a commitment to high standards and best practices. Look for providers that hold certifications such as ISO 27001 for information security management and SSAE 18/SOC 2 for operational and security controls. Compliance with data protection regulations, such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), is crucial when handling sensitive data.
For example, head to the Pulsant accreditations page, and you’ll be able to see all of the accreditations we hold, demonstrating our dedication to the highest levels of security and data protection.
Service-level agreements (SLAs) and support offerings
SLAs outline the level of service and performance guarantees provided by the colocation provider. Review SLAs carefully to understand uptime commitments, response times for support requests, and the provider's responsibilities during maintenance or service interruptions.
Additionally, evaluate the provider's support offerings, including 24/7 technical support, remote services, and expert assistance for troubleshooting and system maintenance.
Pricing models and contract terms
Comparing pricing models and contract terms is essential to ensure the colocation solution aligns with your budget and business objectives. Consider both the upfront costs and ongoing expenses of colocation, including power, bandwidth, and any additional services required.
Flexible contract terms that allow for scalability and potential upgrades as your business grows are also advantageous.
Data centre security and physical environment
Assess the data centre's security measures and physical environment to safeguard your equipment and data. Enquire about access controls, surveillance systems, fire suppression systems, and other security protocols. A well-maintained and secure data centre ensures the protection of your valuable assets.
Colocation best practices
By following best practices and working in partnership with your provider, you can maximise the benefits of colocation and ensure seamless operations within the data centre environment.
Tips for optimising colocation services for maximum efficiency and performance
- Capacity planning: Conduct thorough capacity planning to determine the precise resources required to meet current and future IT demands. Scalability is a significant advantage of colocation, so plan for expansion and growth while avoiding over-provisioning.
- Hardware selection: Choose high-quality and energy-efficient hardware for your collocated equipment. Opt for servers and networking devices that align with your performance requirements while minimising power consumption.
- Cable management: Proper cable management reduces clutter and aids in cooling efficiency. Organise and label cables to facilitate troubleshooting and maintenance.
- Regular audits and reviews: Conduct regular audits and reviews of your colocation infrastructure to identify potential areas for improvement or optimisation. This includes checking power usage, cooling efficiency, and equipment performance.
Implementing redundancy and disaster recovery measures
- Redundant power and cooling: Implement redundant power sources, such as backup generators and UPS systems, to ensure continuous operation during power outages. Redundant cooling systems help prevent overheating and maintain optimal temperatures within the data centre.
- Network redundancy: Establish multiple network connections from diverse carriers to prevent single points of failure and enhance network resiliency.
- Data backup and replication: Regularly backup and replicate critical data to geographically separate locations or to the cloud for disaster recovery purposes.
- Testing disaster recovery plans: Regularly test and validate your disaster recovery plans to ensure they work effectively and can be executed promptly in case of emergencies.
Monitoring and managing the colocation environment
- Remote monitoring: Take advantage of remote monitoring tools to keep track of critical infrastructure components, such as power usage, cooling efficiency, and network connectivity. This proactive approach helps identify and address potential issues before they escalate.
- Security audits: Conduct regular security audits to ensure that access controls, surveillance systems, and physical security measures are functioning correctly.
- Incident response and escalation: Establish clear incident response and escalation procedures with your colocation provider. Ensure that you have a direct point of contact for urgent support requests.
- Environmental monitoring: Monitor environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, to maintain optimal conditions for your equipment.
Optimised colocation services not only improve overall performance but also provide peace of mind in knowing that critical systems are safeguarded and ready to respond effectively to any unforeseen challenges.
Case studies: Successful colocation implementations
It’s always helpful to see how the theory translates into real-life business contexts. Here are some real-world examples and case studies of businesses that have benefited from colocation.
Flexible scalability and efficiency through modern colocation
Ramsac, a UK-based business, partnered with Pulsant to meet its need for a scalable colocation provider that could support long-term growth. After evaluating options, Ramsac selected Pulsant's Reading South data centre which offered modern, efficient infrastructure at a lower cost compared to other data centres they had visited.
By migrating from its existing provider to Pulsant, Ramsac gained the flexibility and capacity to adapt to client needs and scale efficiently.
- Pulsant's Reading facility offered modern, efficient infrastructure at lower cost compared to other data centres
- Migration delivered flexibility and scalability to meet diverse client needs
- Pulsant's responsive service enables more efficient infrastructure management
- Partnership provides foundation for Ramsac's continued expansion and success
Scalable UK growth through low latency connectivity
Nitrado, a German hosting provider, initially entered the UK market with a small deployment in London in 2015. Seeking a scalable, cost-effective data centre with high network performance, Nitrado migrated to Pulsant's Reading South facility. Pulsant offered attractive per-rack pricing, unlimited support, easy scalability up to 7kW per cabinet, DDoS protection, low latency connections, and network stability.
By moving to Reading South, Nitrado gained the critical low latency, consistent jitter connectivity its gaming customers require. Pulsant provided full local support and consultancy to meet Nitrado's evolving needs while managing costs and delivery.
- Nitrado sought scalable, cost-effective UK data centre with top network performance
- Pulsant's Reading South offered attractive pricing, easy scalability, DDoS protection
- Migration delivered ultra-low latency, consistent jitter connections for gaming
- Pulsant provided full consultancy and support for Nitrado's evolving needs
- Partnership enables Nitrado to cost-effectively scale UK operations and meet customer needs
Future trends in colocation
As the digital landscape continues to evolve rapidly, colocation services will undergo significant transformations to meet the demands of emerging technologies and sustainability initiatives.
The future of colocation will be shaped by the following trends:
- Edge computing: Edge computing is revolutionising data processing by bringing computation closer to the data source. Colocation providers are expected to expand their services to edge locations, establishing micro data centres or points of presence (PoPs) to support low-latency applications and real-time analytics. This trend will enable businesses to deploy edge infrastructure seamlessly while leveraging the expertise and connectivity of colocation providers.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: AI-driven applications and workloads generate massive amounts of data that require efficient processing and storage. Colocation data centres are well-positioned to offer the computing power and scalability necessary to support AI and machine learning applications. This trend will likely see data centres incorporating advanced GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and AI-specific hardware to cater to the increasing demand for AI workloads.
- The internet of things (IoT): The proliferation of IoT devices generates substantial data volumes, necessitating secure and reliable data storage and processing. Colocation providers are expected to offer IoT-specific services, enabling businesses to handle the influx of data generated by interconnected devices. Furthermore, data centres may implement specialised security measures to safeguard IoT ecosystems and support the growth of smart cities and industries.
Sustainability and green initiatives
- Renewable energy adoption: With growing concerns about environmental impact, colocation providers are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to power their data centres. Implementing sustainable energy solutions reduces carbon footprints and aligns with the green initiatives of businesses seeking eco-friendly data centre partners.
- Efficient cooling solutions: Cooling is a significant consumer of energy in data centres. In the future, colocation providers will invest in innovative cooling technologies, such as liquid cooling and advanced cooling systems, to improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs.
- Energy-efficient hardware: Colocation providers will encourage the use of energy-efficient hardware and equipment by offering incentives or favourable pricing models. Green initiatives will promote the adoption of more power-efficient servers and networking devices to lower overall energy consumption.
- Circular economy practices: Colocation providers may explore circular economy practices, including recycling and reusing decommissioned equipment and materials. Adopting such practices helps reduce electronic waste and fosters a sustainable data centre ecosystem.
As businesses seek partners that can support their evolving IT infrastructure needs and environmental responsibilities, colocation providers will play a vital role in shaping the digital landscape of tomorrow.
Embracing these trends will enable your business to stay at the forefront of innovation and sustainability while capitalising on the expertise and services of colocation data centres.
Overview and final thoughts
If your business is seeking a trusted partner for reliable and robust colocation services, Pulsant stands ready to deliver the solutions and expertise needed for a thriving IT infrastructure. Our state-of-the-art data centres, strategically located for low latency and robust connectivity, are equipped to cater to the evolving demands of the digital world.
Don't hesitate to reach out to our team of experts for personalised guidance and solutions tailored to your specific requirements. Contact us today to unlock the true potential of colocation. Discover how Pulsant's colocation services can optimise your IT operations, boost performance, and safeguard your critical data.