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?

Most businesses will want to link the colocated server into their own network or over to the Internet or both. Kellet says if you are going down this path and it is a significant part of your business, you need to look at physical redundancy and whether you are locked into buying services from that data centre provider or if they are carrier-neutral.

And then there is proximity. While most good colocation services will provide remote hand services as part of a basic deal, being close to your server will probably prove essential to most small to medium sized businesses in particular.

“Colocation is really just a real estate deal with an Internet service provider,” Kellett says. “If you do want to go and twiddle the knobs it helps to be within a half-hour driving distance and that counts if your colo provider is in another country or another state.”

For Mann, a proven track record of reliability is important in choosing a colocation provider, as is the potential that outsourcing offers in allowing businesses to concentrate on their core work while someone else looks after the infrastructure.

“There's one more very important point, which is a total mind shift from how the data centre has traditionally been viewed,” Mann says. “That is, start to consider how your chosen data centre can be a revenue centre, rather than a cost centre for your business. (Data) centres provide a wealth of business opportunity through the ability to interconnect with customers and partners across network, digital media, cloud/IT, enterprise and finance ecosystems.”

In terms of cost, a little bit of research is in order. Most providers offer similar cost structures such as block packages, which are charged on blocks of bandwidth, or the 95th percentile approach, which knocks off the top five per cent of peak traffic, often resulting in lower bandwidth costs overall.

Along with managed services, colocation is just going to continue to grow, Mann says. “More and more customers are seeing the benefits of outsourced colocation, demonstrated by the fact that demand continues to outpace supply.”

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