What is Colocation? How to decide on a specific data center?
Colocation is where a business outsources server hosting to an external data center provider. The data center usually provides multiple connections to the Internet, bandwidth, physical security, eventually network security (firewall), redundant power, redundant cooling (AC) and rack space in which to mount (rack) customer servers. Co–location is similar to web hosting (leasing a dedicated server) with the exception that the customer owns the servers.
There are several options to look at when deciding on a specific data center for server colocation. Price is one of the most important issues most customers decide by. Often the customers assume that all data centers are the same. So, pricing becomes the major factor when signing a contract. However – we do recommend strongly that you look at the whole picture before deciding on a data center. Here is our top 10 list of questions to ask. There are many more questions to ask but this list will get you going and will help you to make a better decision.
1) Does the data center has 24/7 QUALIFIED staff at the data center location or is the night-shift just a simple operator crew with not much techncial knowledge? Is there a nightshift crew at all? Do they support your operating system (as an example Linux) or are they single platform only?
2) Support Ticket times and support. How long does it take to get hands-on help to work on your server? Find out what the average ticket response time is.
3) Remote reboots. Does your server or servers will be connected to a remote reboot power switch? Can you eventually provide your own power switch if necessary? Remote reboots can be critical in situations of a non-responsive server. Saving valuable minutes by rebooting the server yourself can be a big benefit.
4) Does the data center have enough power for your server? Some data centers upgrade power as they need it. That can hurt existing customers when it comes to overloaded circuits or downtime when a circuit needs to be upgraded. Ask the question and get written confirmation.
5) Redundant power. Does the data center operates UPS’s (Batteries) so that an emergency generator can be started and your server still receives power from a battery. A good data center has a large set of batteries sitting between the power feed so that no downtime will ever occur based on loss of power.
6) Network equipment. Do you have to provide your own equipment (Switch, Firewall, Router) or does the data center provides basic switching and firewalling?
7) How many IPs do you get per server? Are there any additional costs associated with IP addresses? Ask for your own VLan (virtual Lan) when being connected to the data centers network equipment.
8) Will you have physical access to your own server (in case you live in the same town where the data center is located)? How about external support in case you have purchased a support contract from the server vendor (which often includes their consulting services)?
9) Do you need to lease a whole rack cabinet, half a rack cabinet, or can you buy rack space per U (Rack Unit). A “Rack Unit” is equal to 1.75″ (Inch) in height. Make sure you do not have to buy resources that you will never need.
10) Bandwidth and Uplink Internet connections. Ask the data center for detailed information about their uplink providers and available bandwidth. What happens if they run short on bandwidth? Adding additional circuits is not a matter of days. A large pipe added to a data center can take anywhere from 2-6 months. You don’t want to suffer 6 months of bad performance due to small Internet pipe.
Ask the data center for references. Talk to other customers where possible and ask them for their experience with the data center and their personnel. Often these leads can be worth a lot in savings (time, etc.).