Should Co-location Be Part of Your IT Plan?

by TechRack Systems

The global co-location market is fast-growing, with an estimate of it being $40B by 2018, an 11% increase from 2013. Companies are increasingly choosing co-location as an alternative for a more nimble IT structure instead of using it only for a disaster recovery option as in the past. Co-location is also becoming more popular as cloud computing and hybrid data center models are increasingly commonplace these days. Here’s information to get you started on the path to evaluating whether co-location is right for your business.

First off, let’s define co-location.
It refers to businesses renting physical space at a data center for their servers, storage, and networking equipment. They are supplied with all the necessary physical elements such as secured space, power and cooling, as well as bandwidth to connect their servers to telecommunications and network service providers. This shared space can be leased in a partitioned co-location cabinet or entire server rack , cabinet, cage, or room. Options and configurations are customized to each customer’s unique requirements for their business.

Who is a good candidate for co-location?
Several types of businesses: small companies that have or want to obtain a large web presence but don’t want the hassle and cost of network connections or an entire server cabinet. More commonly, it’s utilized by larger businesses with one or multiple data centers that want the benefit of optimized computing facilities without the headache of on-site support at their facilities. Many of these companies are also using co-location to supplement their current data center configuration for back up, future expansion and security.

Here are some pros and cons to determine if co-location is right for your business.

Advantages of Co-location

Greater bandwidth:
It is usually far less expensive for companies to use the colocation facility’s supplied bandwidth than to run their own connections. Co-location data centers can offer higher bandwidth speeds as well and are located near main fiber lines.

Increased protection against outages:

If your data center experiences a power outage or other type of disaster, colocation facilities typically provide more robust power generator systems than at your data center. They also offer redundant backup power to protect against these situations.

Better, faster technology:

Because co-location facilities own their infrastructure and equipment, they are generally quick to upgrade if systems are slow or any other issues affecting performance. Co-location facilities are motivated by their customers demanding a state of the art IT package.

Value-added services:
This isn’t necessarily an advantage but can be, depending on the business model. For instance, there are options to purchase additional support, such as managing and maintaining customers’ servers. This can be useful if your company doesn't have adequate IT support or is located far away from your provider.

Disadvantages of Co-location
Distance of co-location facility:
Ideally you want the data center to be within close range of your office should you need to visit. Bear in mind, you will have to visit during your colocation provider's service hours (but many offer 24/7 access). Also remember that colocation means a shared space.

Challenges with budgeting:
If your IT department is maintaining and managing the servers, your company will need to purchase and install the servers. This translates to time, money, and resources. Additionally, in months of spiked network traffic, you can get hit with dramatically increased service fees by the colocation facility. Budgeting for fluctuating costs should be factored into your decision-making process.

Long-term commitment
Having a contract with a colocation facility can be a great fit for your business if you don’t anticipate moving for a long time. However, if your company relocates to a different geographic area, it may require either moving the servers to a new provider closer to your new location or paying a termination fee at your current co-location facility.

These are just a few considerations when evaluating co-location as part of your IT strategy. For more information about your data center requirements, visit TechRack Systems, or contact us at or 888-266-3577.