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Colocation: The Selection Process

It can be difficult to find your colocation provider.

June 3, 2021 4 minute read

Deciding to move to a colocation facility is a complicated and difficult decision for many organizations. Benefits to collocating can offer tremendous flexibility and savings if you don’t have the capital to build or maintain your own facilities. 

Often companies find that an internal data center is not accomplishing the goals and objectives tied to the business strategy. The benefits of having a vendor house a company’s IT assets range from realizing a large reduction in future capital costs, increased reliability, simpler management, a smaller number of employees dedicated to managing the data center and the flexibility to expand or reduce the amount of data center space used.

So what does it take to select the right colocation provider? Don’t just roll the dice and be tempted with the cheapest provider. Whether your decision is driven by finances, disaster recovery or the need to focus resources on their core competencies, take the time to explore the playing field, identify the players, understand the play pattern and develop the play concept.

Today, we’re only as good as our technology. Before you entrust it to a colocation facility, take the time to check them out properly. Go beneath the surface and make sure they’re rock solid on the factors that can undermine your infrastructure. Then see if you can trust them.

Before selecting a co-location

Clarify the future vision for data centers within the enterprise.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What are your business goals?
  • What are your IT requirements?
  • Get your requirements straight.
  • What does your growth look like?
  • Anticipate increase or decrease.
  • Do a needs assessment!
  • Decide on a charge model.
  • Determine pricing per kW/BTU/SqFt.

Now that the internal needs assessment is complete, let’s turn our attention to the colocation providers and see what’s under their hood.

Things to look for in a co-location provider

  • Understanding their business model: What is important to this provider? Does that align with you?
  • Flexible master service agreements: Get detailed MSA language. Ask for an example SLA.
  • Flexible service level agreements: In case of outages, are smart hands available?
  • Business continuity plans: Ask tough questions.
  • Compliance: Federal regulations, guaranteed uptime, certification (HIPAA or PCI) and compliance (SOC2, SSAE-18 Type II).
  • Footprint: How many locations? Where are they located?
  • Charge model: Is pricing per kW/BTU/SqFt?
  • Space/power/cooling/services: What is their topology (N+1/2N/2N+1)? What is the power density to support both current and future? Redundancy (UPS/generator), connectivity (RPP/Overhead busway/Wips), back-up, cooling provisioning (low energy, thermal).
  • Network carrier redundancy: Carrier neutrality, high-density environment.
  • Physical security: How does this align with your security audit? Access control/CCTV/mantraps/fire safety.
  • Alignment with disaster recovery: Smart hands availability? Do they offer DRaaS?
  • Connectivity: What is the available connectivity to the outside world? High speed redundant fiber optic network? Are there dual pathways into the facility?
  • Monitoring and management: Are there solutions in place to support? Do they provide 24/7 notification and secure remote access?
  • Future growth: Ability to provide more power/cooling/space with your anticipated increase or decrease.
  • Getting your requirements straight: Right location, tier classification.

Conclusion

Selecting a colocation provider can be difficult but like any data center strategy, the decisions that need to be made must be grounded in your business goals and objectives. With WWT helping provide guidance, you can ask and answer many of the fundamental questions that, when overlooked, can cause issues with your relationship with the colo provider.

Colocation data halls are a viable and interesting option for many data center operations — as long as you can avoid making some common mistakes.

Next steps

Let us assist in your next move. Request a Facilities Infrastructure Workshop to help breakdown the unknown.

To learn more about our Facilities Infrastructure Practice, connect with our experts and follow our topic page for the latest updates.

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