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How to: Choosing the right colocation provider

How to: Choosing the right colocation provider

Managed services may receive most of publicity but colocation still offers a number of benefits. So what should you look for in choosing the best provider?

With a plethora of private data centres available and a remarkable number currently being built, it is an opportune time for businesses needing to expand their data capacity to take a closer look at what is on offer.

The current boom in data centre building and planning – with the likes of Dell, HP and Fujitsu announcing new facilities in Australia, along with Macquarie Telecom, Polaris, NextDC and Blue Coat and the opening of a new Sydney centre in June by Equinix – is proof if need be that outsourced services, both colocated and managed, are in increasing demand.

In fact, almost $2 billion in new investments has been announced since January this year, according to IDC Australia senior analyst Trevor Clarke. Much of this is being driven by concerns over energy costs and the impending carbon tax.

While some businesses will turn to managed services for their data needs, colocation is still a popular choice. The advantages to this approach include cost efficiency, security and network connectivity and integration.

Colocation services have been around for a lot longer than managed services like the cloud-based platforms coming through today, Internode's product manager Jim Kellett says.

“There is a historical bias for people preferring to do things that way,” he says. “You get complete control over your environment and it can be quite cost-effective to go with colocation – essentially a one-rack unit at a data centre these days will be about $100 and $150 a month.

“You don't get the levels of redundancy that you get with a managed approach but it is really horses for courses. You only have to add a rack-mounted server and a usage plan and it is pretty much job done.”

Equinix Australia's managing director, Darren Mann, says enterprises can enjoy the time and cost benefits of using shared data centre infrastructure while maintaining maximum flexibility and control over their IT environment.

“Outsourcing to a colocation provider also has the added benefit of leaving the facility-based services to those whose core business is building and running data centres, allowing companies to concentrate on their own business,” Mann says.

The main things to look for when comparing colocation providers besides cost are physical security, proximity, power management and network connectivity, Kellett says.

“Colo has a number of different aspects to it. You want to have a look at the security arrangements, so physical security is important. It is pretty easy to set up a pretend data centre and for someone to nick your server and there goes your data.

“One of the biggest challenges is keeping it all cool. The link to power management is important because while every data centre will have a UPS (uninterruptible power source) of some description, UPS systems don't run air conditioners. You really need a place that has a UPS system and a diesel generator to back that up. The air con needs redundancy built into it too because it is quite remarkable how hot a data centre can get in a very short amount of time.”

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Tags servershostingstoragedata centrescolocation

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