DC Infrastructure

7 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Colocation Providers

7 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Colocation Providers

By Bill Evanger

June 1, 2022 - 3 min

colocation

More and more organizations are choosing to get out of the data center business and partner with a colocation provider to support their IT infrastructure. Colocation is often the best choice from an IT, financial, and operational perspective. However, choosing the wrong colocation provider can be an expensive and risky mistake.

Here are seven questions organizations should ask when evaluating colocation services.

What level of redundancy does the data center provide? Redundant power, cooling, and connectivity provide a critical hedge against downtime. Ideally, there should also be multiple paths for these resources to take. The essential services required to support the data center are often depicted by the variable N. The term “N+1” is used to describe a data center with one additional component, while “2N” refers to a fully redundant, mirrored system with independent distribution. The greater the redundancy, the greater the resilience of the data center.

What are the physical security features of the site? While logical security is important, physical security is also needed to protect sensitive data. The colocation facility has to have a secure perimeter, access controls, 24×7 monitored video surveillance, and equipment cages with locks. The provider should conduct background checks on all staff who have access to IT equipment. Best-in-class facilities also have onsite security personnel, mantraps, biometric access systems, and other advanced controls.

What types of Technology offerings does the Colo provide? Traditional colocation usually involves finding a suitable location for your IT equipment, i.e. “Space, Power, and Cooling”, but modern colocation providers are now offering additional services to allow for greater elasticity in a colocation solution. Hybrid-cloud, Bare-Metal-as-a-Service (BMaaS), etc, are all solutions that allow colocation customers to grow or shrink easily without capital outlay.

Which certifications have the provider obtained? Certifications offer customers a reliable benchmark when evaluating colocation providers. Customers should look for certifications that require data center operators to meet minimum standards for data security and regulatory compliance. For example, SOC 2 certification offers insight into the provider’s controls across the five “trust principles” of security, availability, processing integrity, privacy, and confidentiality. Certifications can also revolve around efficiency, which in turn results in lower operational costs. Examples such as the LEED certification.

What network service provider options are available? Best-in-class colocation providers have developed an ecosystem of service provider partners, giving customers options when it comes to network connectivity. Ideally, customers will have access to IP transit and Layer 2 transport services and on-ramps to the major cloud providers. This enables customers to take advantage of the most cost-effective services and scale as their needs grow.

What data center services are available? Putting equipment in a colocation facility doesn’t mean it takes care of itself. The facility should offer remote management solutions so IT teams can monitor various aspects of the infrastructure. Onsite services such as “remote hands” can also be helpful if a server needs to be rebooted, cable reconnected, or local indicator checked. “Smart hands” services are more advanced, providing the ability to take care of any task an onsite IT would perform.

Where is the data center located? Often, organizations choose a colocation facility near their headquarters. That’s a reasonable approach, although the data center needs to be protected as much as possible from floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. Customers with a regional, national or global footprint have more flexibility and can choose facilities in favorable climates. Data sovereignty can also be an issue. Some regulations mandate that data be stored within certain geographic areas. Lastly, certain geographies offer tax incentives, rebates, etc, which may make them more or less attractive than other providers.

Rahi has proven expertise in the design of advanced data center facilities. We have helped some of the world’s largest hyperscale providers develop their data center strategies and global standards, and have built facilities around the world. We can help you select the right colocation partner as well as optimize your onsite IT infrastructure.

Colocation often makes good business sense, but it’s important to partner with the right provider. Let Rahi help you identify the features that are most important and evaluate various colocation options.

Author

  • Bill has been in the IT industry for nearly 30 years. For the past 20 years, he has been specializing in data center operations, including presales and engineering. In particular, Bill has spent the last 12 years focusing on data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and other monitoring-related technologies.

, Solutions Architect

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