How Enterprises Should Choose a Colocation Provider

In addition to enabling enterprises to select their own hardware and software, colocation facilities help enterprises save on the cost of owning the space to house their own data center and allow them to adhere to security and governance regulations.

Colocation

Every enterprise has to come to a Shakespearean decision at some point. Capsulized, it would be something like this: "IT, wherefore art thou?"

This is about evaluating and deciding upon housing central IT in an on-premises data center, a managed/hosted data center, totally in the cloud, or in a colocation provider. A high number of IT managers decide to go with a colocation provider, and it’s not surprising; there are a lot of choices involved, and choice is always good.

In addition to enabling enterprises to select their own hardware and software, colocation facilities help enterprises save on the cost of owning the space to house their own data center and allow them to adhere to security and governance regulations.

Now the question is, how does one choose the right colocation provider? In this eWEEK Data Point article, using industry information from Digital Realty, we offer five key criteria to consider when selecting your colocation provider.
 
Data Point 1:  Look for a provider with a focus on sustainability.

As an enterprise, you are helping to foster green practices among colocation and hosting providers by choosing and supporting providers who put the time and effort into sustainable practices.

A second and equally critical factor is employee and customer awareness. Employees want to be in an environment that is pleasant, that has daylight, fresh air and a restorative effect on their health and well-being. Choosing a data center provider that is committed to sustainability allows you to bring those benefits directly to your employees.
 
Data Point 2:  Look for a provider with a presence in your markets.

There are dozens of companies, if not more, who are offering colocation services, but they may only have a few facilities in one regional area or even a handful spread across the U.S.  For most enterprises, customers or regional offices exist around the world, so their colocation provider also must have many facilities in key metro markets across the country and around the globe. This allows them to provide consistent performance and availability, eliminating downtime or delay. 

Also, a provider with presences around the world enables enterprises the agility to quickly expand physically or virtually into new markets.
 
Data Point 3:  Look for a provider that hosts all the major public cloud providers and your other technology partners.

Some colocation providers are large enough that they have created vast digital ecosystems within their facilities, where they can connect their customers directly to carrier and cloud providers as well as technology partners and customers all in the same physical space instead of requiring them to connect across the public internet.  This enables enterprises to extend their digital capabilities almost instantly and garner the benefits of lower latency, higher throughput and improved security.
 
Data Point 4:  Look for a provider who can guarantee service availability.

Service level agreements differ among colocation providers, but most enterprises agree that they require 24/7 access to their data and applications so they can ensure their services are always available to customers.  Check that your colocation provider includes uptime SLAs that are acceptable to you.  Cloudscene has a great list of leading providers.
 
Data Point 5:  Look for a provider who delivers physical security as well as technological support.

Not all secure data centers are the same. Check that your colocation provider has the assurance and track record that the assets you house will be protected from theft, vandalism, natural disasters, man-made catastrophes, accidental damage and other incidents. Facilities should have a full array of security tools, including bollards, mantraps, access control systems and surveillance systems.

Also, the use of robust, multi-factor authentication protocols combined with vetted authorization processes will ensure only authorized persons are granted access. The strongest defense environment will serve as a fortress around critical equipment and data.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...