What is colocation?

Paul Leonard | Group Associate & Marketing Manager

Categories

5 October 2020

Colocation (often referred to as ‘colo’) is when a business houses their own equipment including servers and networking equipment in a third-party data centre. These data centres are purpose built for the handling and connection of data. The costs of colocation typically include the rental of the physical space, cooling, power supply, connectivity bandwidth and physical security of the building itself. Businesses can choose to lease or rent space by the rack, whole cabinets, cages or even rooms and whole floors. Some colocation centres also provide management services negating the need for engineers to travel on site (in most cases).

Features of colocation

Colocation spaces have distinct advantages for businesses looking to revise their IT infrastructure. The principle of colocation works on shared resources; the space is shared between businesses, allowing for strategic connectivity and the creation of mutually beneficial communities of interest. The costs of power and cooling (considerable in data centres) are also shared. The specific expertise afforded by the experts who built and manage the data centre means that businesses have a lower Capex requirement and can focus instead on other requirements. Businesses retain full control over their own equipment, and can even add their own security measures, like locked cages for further peace of mind. Colocation provides businesses with enterprise level benefits for their data management:

  • High bandwidth
  • Connectivity
  • Reliability
  • Efficient cooling
  • Physical Security including CCTV, private suites, locked racks and cages, and anti-tailgating measures.

Who is colocation good for?

Colocation for businesses is a strategic move in the age of digital transformation, and there are several reasons why an enterprise would look to start colocating:

  • Disaster Recovery: Colocation allows businesses to create robust business continuity and disaster recovery strategies by using equipment in a colocation facility as an additional node in disaster recovery plans.
  • Minimising Capex: Building a data centre from scratch requires investment and expertise that many businesses don’t currently have in-house. Data centre design is critical in ensuring high performance for needs now and also future requirements for bandwidth, power, connectivity and reliability. 
  • Cloud Connectivity: Colocating at a facility like Interxion London’s Brick Lane campus allows businesses direct public and private connections to multiple cloud providers like Google Cloud Platform, AWS, and Microsoft Azure. This gives enterprises the flexibility to adjust workloads and best serve IT needs, with full control and visibility of compute resources actioned in a secure, scalable fashion.
  • Connected Communities: At Interxion London, colocation facilities at Brick Lane have become connected hubs of businesses where strategic connectivity is realised and mutual benefits can be leveraged through communities of interest. Financial services can benefit from low latency connections to markets, trade data providers, and partners to get a competitive edge over their rivals where every millisecond counts.

How much does colocation cost?

Colocation costs depend on a variety of factors and many companies operate different pricing models, costing by space or costing by power. Factors that can affect colocation pricing include:

  • Power & redundancy requirements
  • Space requirements
  • Data centre tier selection
  • Uptime requirements & SLAs

Businesses looking to find the best colocation solution need to compare like-for-like across providers, making sure to not neglect connectivity requirements.

How to choose the best colocation provider

Choosing a colocation provider can be a difficult task, but there are key questions to consider when thinking about your business and its requirements. Defining answers to these questions and discussing them with potential providers will go a long way to helping you make the right decisions for your IT infrastructure:

  • What are your business goals, now and in the future?
  • What are your current requirements?
  • Which tier of data centre is right for your business?
  • What kind of availability do you need?
  • What is the plan for growth?
  • What are your power density requirements? Will you be looking to action AI or Machine Learning?
  • Where is your ideal location for your data? Do you need your servers to be accessible, close to your centre of operations in the City?

Considerations

When choosing a colocation provider, it’s important to consider other factors that may influence IT decision making including:

  • Distance: A data centre located far away from your base of operations could make it difficult for in house engineers to perform regular maintenance on equipment, as well as emergency call-outs out of business hours.
  • SLAs & Contracts: Vendor lock-in is a real concern for businesses that don’t want to beholden to contracts that aren’t serving their business needs. Businesses should be clear on the level of service expected and whether the facility they’re looking to work with is carrier neutral.

Colocation with Interxion London

Colocation is a great way for businesses to further their digital transformation journey, and make the move to a future-proof, agile IT infrastructure. Here at Interxion London, we have multiple Tier 3 data centres in the heart of the city of London, giving businesses the connectivity, reliability and security they need to grow into the future. Our campuses are hubs where communities of interest come together to create mutually beneficial strategic partnerships at our data centres.