Managed colocation – why it may be the answer for your business

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Deciding how to host your business’ application or product is important for making sure that your IT infrastructure can perform and scale. How well you know your business, and what it needs in the long-term, will impact how and where these systems are set up and managed.

When it comes to IT infrastructure a number of options are available. If you have a clearly-defined set of business goals, know what the current state of your organisation’s IT infrastructure is, and are ready to make a change to maximise deployment in the long-term, managed colocation could be just what you are looking for. But what is managed colocation and why choose it over on-premises or cloud-based solutions?

What is managed colocation?

The provisioning of space for IT infrastructure and equipment that is owned by a business but housed on a service provider’s premises is known as colocation. It’s a good option for businesses wanting to keep control of their systems but don’t have the physical space to house their own infrastructure. Managed colocation takes this one step further by taking on the responsibility of managing your business’s IT infrastructure, in addition to physically hosting it.

Depending on the service level agreement (SLA) that’s in place, a managed colocation provider will not only look after the server hardware, but will also manage the operating system, applications and databases. Other managed services such as security, backup and storage can be added on as part of the managed colocation service.

Managed colocation is a great fit for businesses that are keen to retain their own infrastructure, but with a certain level of server management expertise. The benefit for smaller businesses is that it saves on costs, both in terms of physical space and the need to hire expensive IT expertise.

Managed colocation vs on-premises

An on-premises IT infrastructure requires significant initial capital expenditure (CapEx) and as your business grows and scale is needed, additional components – and probably more physical space – will have to be acquired, which all add to the cost. The unfortunate downside of growing your business using this IT infrastructure option is that it very easily and quickly becomes expensive, which is counter-productive for the growth business objective. You may also quickly find yourself in a situation where the attention is unintentionally given more to IT monitoring or troubleshooting, rather than your core business activities, where the focus should be.

Managed colocation on the other hand, while it does require a similar up-front CapEx for servers and equipment, does not need the same investment for physical facilities. This means that when your business does need to scale, budget can be spent on the servers needed rather than supporting infrastructure. Additionally, as your framework grows, it’s fairly safe to assume that your preferred managed colocation provider will have the rack space within its data centre to accommodate it.  

The benefits of the ‘managed’ element of colocation over on-premises include:

  • High Availability: Your service provider implements the necessary measures to make sure that your business’ data is always available. For example, in the event of a power outage, backup services are available such as alternative power supplies, batteries or generators. These precautions are also regularly tested to ensure they don’t fail at crucial moments. Most managed colocation providers also have superior bandwidth connectivity, supported by an SLA, for complete peace of mind that your data is always available, and ‘always on’.
  • Global Reach: Managed colocation is perfect for companies who need to tap into multiple geo locations. It’s possible to have racks anywhere in the world, which is particularly beneficial for businesses that need to know exactly where their data is physically located, and also important for meeting data protection legislation in certain countries.
  • Business Continuity: In a data centre that is owned by a service provider, your business’ data is protected against disasters such as fire and flooding. Additionally, the facilities maintain appropriate controlled environments through cooling systems to maintain optimum temperatures for IT infrastructures. Essentially, your network is fully taken care of by your provider.
  • Security: Measures that a data centre can have to protect against external physical attacks can include 24/7 video surveillance, alarm monitoring, and authorised access, while internally cabinets can be housed inside secure, locked cages.
  • Service and Support: Businesses that have owned infrastructure and systems, but not the technician staff to manage them, will really benefit from the management expertise and maintenance support that a managed colocation provider can offer.
  • Full Customer Remote Management: This means that you don’t have to be physically in or near the data centre, but can access your systems and data from anywhere, at any time.

Managed colocation vs cloud

It’s important to always keep your core business function and related considerations top of mind when it comes to choosing long-term IT infrastructure and systems, specifically system costs, business requirements and security. If your business is focused on services and delivering solutions, for example, cloud may be a good option as it’s very cost effective and supports the quick roll out of cloud-based services.

However, if your business needs advanced infrastructure, services that go beyond application, database and website hosting, or must retain control over some or all of the framework, managed colocation may be a better choice.

In this regard, when comparing managed colocation over cloud, these advantages are worth mentioning:

  • Managed colocation gives you full control over your infrastructure, which can be built and deployed to meet your business’ unique requirements.
  • Improvements in data centre security, such as caged rack areas with unique biometric access, means that managed colocation can offer an enhanced security posture over cloud options.
  • From a practical perspective some data can be difficult to migrate to the cloud, such as transactional data which is constantly updating, and the time required to migrate huge volumes of data can seem counter-productive.
  • If the scale and volume of your business data is quite large, it potentially might be cheaper to manage and maintain with your own infrastructure in a managed colocation setting.
  • Ensure single tenanted hardware – better performing for certain types of applications.

Managed colocation is an extremely viable, sensible, IT outsourcing solution, one that provides access to connectivity and expanding bandwidth as your business needs it. What is always important to remember is that whichever route you decide to take for your business’ IT infrastructure and systems, it should always be based on a frank assessment of who your company is, what it does, what it can handle, and where it ultimately wants to go. And this appraisal must always be evaluated against a digital background that is increasingly becoming more sophisticated in terms of data storage, delivery and overall management.

Jake Madders, Co-Director and Co-Founder, Hyve Managed Hosting
Image Credit: Welcomia / Shutterstock