A simple online search will show the variety of colocation providers available. But where do you go next? How do you choose a colocation provider? It all starts with work on your part to determine what colocation specifications your business requires.
If a large healthcare organization is selecting a colocation provider, their needs may be different than a smaller SaaS provider. While healthcare and financial organizations’ concerns will center around compliance and security measures, a SaaS provider might be focused on redundancy, uptime, and cloud options. Every enterprise has different priorities that should be mapped out prior to narrowing down the pool of colocation providers.
The benefits of colocation that range from scalability and enhanced security to increased efficiencies and cost savings cannot be experienced until you choose the right colocation provider. When organizations make the decision to use a colocation provider, they likely have a specific use case in mind already.
That use case plays a key role in determining the colocation provider and facility that is chosen because it will dictate the need for specific services and capabilities. In this blog, we will look at important variables that should be taken into considerations when evaluating colocation providers and their facilities. We have said it before, and we will say it again… Data center facilities are not a one-size-fits-all situation, nor are the colocation providers.
1.Reliability and Scalability
With colocation, the expectation is reliability, availability, and scalability. Yet, the level of reliability and scalability you need specifically can affect your choice of a facility. If an enterprise is running their mission-critical workloads out of the colocation facility, they will want the highest level of availability and reliability. In addition, they will want the ability to rapidly failover if and when that is required.
When it comes down to the data center facility, having a reliable design is critical. Look into colocation providers with multiple facilities to ensure redundancy. For example, if one facility experienced an outage, they would failover to their other facilities to ensure 100 percent uptime for their customers.
For organizations considering colocation services, reliability and protection can be primary benefits. For small and mid-sized IT professionals, opting for colocation can reduce a significant amount of time and costs needed to protect corporate data. For larger enterprise-level organizations, colocation can be seen as a way to ensure uptime and is a way to future-proof the business for ongoing, unpredictable growth.
Common Sources of Reliability Failure
When vetting colocation providers, it is important to not only look at their positive features but their potential sources of failure. Knowing the risks that can compromise reliability can aid your final decision. Common sources of reliability failure can include:
- Building Failure: Disruption to your data could be caused by inclement weather, natural disasters or other physical disruptions. Ask your provider about their physical infrastructure security. How will it hold up against external threats?
- Equipment Failure: Equipment that acts as the source of power, cooling, or connectivity could be a cause of failure. Ask your provider about their data center equipment maintenance and their protocol if failures occur.
- Hardware Failure: Hardware could malfunction if it depended on a source of power, cooling, or connectivity that failed. Ask your provider about their protocol for hardware failure.
100% uptime is the goal. Beyond making fast and reliable connections available to customers, many data center providers take additional measures to ensure uptime and redundancy. Choosing the right level of redundancy for your virtual infrastructure is crucial. Power loss, even for a short time, can cause major damage to a business.
Gartner reports that an average network downtime means the loss of $5,600 every minute. To avoid this, redundancy should be a priority when vetting colocation providers.
All LightEdge facilities are built to Tier III standards, meaning they are concurrently maintainable. This means that the electrical and cooling systems in our facilities are fully redundant. The goal is to get your computer equipment into a facility with tested redundancy plans that will never go dark. LightEdge stands behind our facilities with a 100 percent availability SLA.
Whether you have one server or many more, it does not matter. With colocation, you will always have the option to upsize or downsize depending on your needs. Yet, scaling up has particular benefits to housing your servers at a colocation facility, and as a growing business, this would be a perfect fit for you.
Scalability is a key reason for a business to migrate to a colocation provider’s facility, according to Data Center Knowledge.
2. Network Connectivity and Carrier Diversity
Colocation is more than just racking and stacking your equipment in a data center and adding a network connection. Without highly reliable and redundant network connectivity, your IT performance will suffer. Finding a colocation provider that allows for a wide range of connectivity options can ensure your business can access the applications and resources they need.
When selecting a colocation provider, make sure they have carrier diversity throughout each of their data center facilities. Especially, if your organization is running applications that have this requirement to ensure redundant network connectivity. Connectivity goes beyond networking connections. For most enterprises, colocation is only one part of the IT picture.
Consider your selection of a colocation provider in the context of how your entire IT infrastructure impacts your business. On top of colocation services, providers offer capabilities like business continuity and cloud solutions. A colocation provider can offer all of these services within one expert portfolio and become your IT partner.
If your organization is subject to regulatory requirements, such as those specified by HIPAA/HITRUST, PCI DSS, ISO 20000-1, ISO 27000, SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3, or others, make sure any prospective colocation provider can help you meet them.
While your organization is ultimately responsible for remaining compliant, many of the security controls and audits employed by a colocation provider can help lessen the burden for you. Give priority to providers that undergo independent audits by third parties.
Seek out data centers that have been audited to standards like SSAE 18 and make sure you insist on seeing copies of their attestation reports. In addition, if those same facilities also undergo audits for HIPAA and PCI DSS, that demonstrates their commitment to investing in the security of your critical infrastructure.
Selecting a colocation provider that not only has the appropriate physical security controls but is also ready and willing to support you during a compliance audit can be a gamechanger.
It is more difficult than ever to meet the complex demands of compliance and security, especially with evolving threats, vague regulatory guidance, and limited resources. Compliance professional services that can test, evaluate and remediate security vulnerabilities can help you increase your ability to withstand intrusions.
Security is an all-encompassing term. It not only hits on the physical location of a data center and the advanced security tools but also touches on insider threat protection protocols that your provider has in place. There are so many different elements that come with security, it can be overwhelming to know what to look for and inquire about.
What Security Features to Look for
If a random individual is able to walk into a data center without going through a security check-in process, that would be a big problem. If a tornado is able to disrupt or damage a data center facility, that would be a big problem. If a pin code was stolen and used to access unauthorized areas, and there were no other security tools in place to stop that interaction, that would be a big problem.
All colocation facilities have security. The different tools, protocols, and levels of security that each provider has is what can set one apart from another. Here is what to look for:
- Secure Physical Location: Outside of a flood plain, outside of airport landing paths, physical barrier protection, natural disaster proof
- Secure Check-In: Verify identity of any visitor with government-issued ID check, key card, pin and biometrics
- Secure Tools: Video surveillance with archival periods, multi-factor authentication checkpoints in mantraps, badge and keycard access, cabinet combo locks, etc.
- Secure Staff: Staffing the data center facility 24x7x365 with trained security professionals, assess management controls, internal threat protocols and protection
5. Power and Cooling
Make sure any colocation provider you are considering meets required standard ranges for power, cooling, and humidity. Look for a provider who is using cooling techniques like raised floors that provide the most up-to-date cooling system available. They should also employ real-time air quality monitoring.
Cooling is a major cost factor in data centers, and if implemented poorly, can cause equipment failures. According to the Cisco Unified Computing System Site Planning Guide for Data Center Power and Cooling, best practices for data center airflow management include either a hot-aisle and cold aisle layout or a raised floor cooling layout.
Power typically represents the largest cost in a data center. Therefore, choosing a provider with lower power costs will ultimately lower your overall cost. Third-party providers’ power costs are typically locked in, whereas in-house operations are subject to fluctuating power costs.
The Midwest has some of the lowest power costs in the United States, which is a key factor in considering the expense to operate a colocation facility.
6. Unparalleled Support
Emergencies rarely give advance notice, so it is good to know that tech support is just a phone call or ticket request away regardless of the time. Find a colocation provider that offers 24x7x365 support for emergencies or issues that occur when your staff is not on site.
This around the clock support can help prevent minor issues from escalating into larger ones down the road. The experience of the colocation provider’s support team can also influence the level of service you receive. Look for those who have skilled staff on-site rather than ones that outsource capabilities to vendors.
Your colocation provider should have all procedures documented, and all personnel associated with those processes should be trained properly. In a full-service colocation environment, the provider should address security, provide power and cooling, perform facility management AND be able to deliver these duties with unparalleled support.
Consider LightEdge to be your Next Colocation Provider
There are many other considerations that go into selecting a colocation facility. Things like budget, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), contracts, and other factors will play pivotal a role as well. Do not be swayed by marketing fluff. Ask the hard questions. Check references, particularly from third-party auditors and provider’s customers who are like your organization and have been with the provider for a long time.
As a top-tier colocation services provider, we deliver a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers and dedicated staff onsite. Our customized and scalable services give you the control, whether you need a colocation rack, cage, or custom suite now or in the future.
LightEdge’s highly-trained compliance and security experts take the guesswork out of keeping your business protected. Trust our expertise to ensure you are covered through our security and compliance services, including risk management, information security, audit preparedness, and support.
With geographically dispersed facilities across all of the US power grids, our data centers are the heart of our operation and yours. We have a wide range of colocation and disaster recovery solutions delivering advanced shared infrastructure designed to enable operational and financial efficiency, reducing the burden on your IT staff.
LightEdge business support services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no exceptions. Our technical support starts with direct access to technicians in LightEdge’s Network Operations Center (NOC) via a toll-free number for emergencies. The MyLightEdge Portal allows you to open tickets, track progress, and more for all of your services.
Our LightEdge facilities are more advanced than traditional data centers. We have created true Hybrid Solution Centers designed to offer a complete portfolio of high speed, secure, redundant, local cloud services and managed gateways to public clouds through our hardened facilities.
Customers turn to LightEdge to reduce the risk of non-compliance, scale security, and for predictability and cost-effectiveness. LightEdge provides customers with an extended team of experienced engineers and helps to focus resources on agility and differentiation. Are you curious how your current provider stacks up? Our security experts will provide a free security assessment to see how you measure up against the latest compliance and security standards. No risk, no commitment. Contact us today to get your free security assessment.
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- Data Center Design: Compliance, Location and Regulations
- Data Center Security: Why Providers Should Build Security into Every Detail
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- Data Center Checklist: 5 Factors for Choosing a Data Center