3 min

6 Key Questions When Considering Colocation

Moving data center resources to a colocation center has a number of potential benefits, but organizations must make sure they’re prepared.

Recently, one of our customers experienced a water leak that made its way into the data center, ruining multiple servers. That event was the last straw: Business and IT leaders at the company decided to move all data center resources into a colocation center. 

Under the right circumstances, colocation can help organizations reduce costs and improve reliability, although the reasons for making the decision to colocate resources will be different for different organizations. Before making the move, leaders should consider these important questions:

1. What Are Our Connectivity Needs?

A move to a colocation center might be even more attractive to organizations in rural areas that lack the connectivity needed for large data transactions. A company located in rural Iowa, for instance, will likely be able to obtain more robust connectivity for less money by moving its resources to a colocation facility in Chicago.

2. What Are Our Physical Security Requirements?

Sometimes, this question is driven by auditable compliance requirements, while other times it is more a matter of company policy or even individual preference. To make sure a prospective colocation facility meets their organization’s needs, IT leaders should know what they’re looking for in terms of physical security, whether that means biometric scanning, human guards or surveillance cameras.

3. What SLAs Do We Want?

Service-level agreements for metrics like uptime and recovery time are at the very heart of a contract with a colocation center. It’s important for business and IT leaders to know what level of service will ensure the availability and performance they need. They must also conduct due diligence to make sure the colocation facility is capable of meeting their SLAs. This requires more than just reading the marketing materials; leaders need to ask for references who can speak about the colocation center’s track record. Organizations can also negotiate specific financial penalties or include the option to back out of the contract if the provider fails to meet its promised metrics.

4. How Much Power and Cooling Do We Need?

This is really getting down to the nuts and bolts of data center operations, and it’s something that business and IT leaders may take for granted. The good news is that power and cooling are fairly straightforward. Rather than relying on trial and error, organizations can turn to spreadsheets that will tell them the exact heating and cooling needs for different pieces of equipment running a certain level of utilization. Depending on the results, some electrical work may be required to meet the organization’s needs, or the organization may opt for a different colocation provider.

5. What Is Our Disaster Recovery Plan?

Organizations that rely on the public cloud for their disaster recovery will want to make sure that any colocation center they use is located near a major public cloud on-ramp, such as New York, Chicago or Washington, D.C. Otherwise, they may not be able to meet their recovery time objectives should a disaster occur. For organizations that choose to place their recovery environments in a separate colocation facility, providers tend to offer access to back-end fiber, ensuring rapid recovery.

6. What Will Our Design Look Like?

Any colocation move should start with an inventory and assessment of an organization’s existing resources. Such housecleaning often turns up infrastructure that isn’t being used, and there are typically opportunities to improve utilization of other equipment by roughly 10 percent. This process allows organizations to compress their footprint, reduce costs and start their colocation journey off right.

Story by Dennis Bauer, a Solution Group Lead at CDW with more than three decades of experience in IT, including data center buildouts and migration to the cloud.

Dennis Bauer

CDW Expert
Dennis Bauer is a Solution Group Lead at CDW with more than three decades of experience in IT, including data center buildouts and migration to the cloud.