What Is Colocation and How Does It Work?

Woman working on server

What Is Colocation and How Does It Work?

Hosting, installing, maintaining and managing your IT equipment at your own facility can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. It’s crucial that you get these things right, since reliable, high-performing IT equipment is essential to the success of your business.

What if you didn’t have to take care of all of those things yourself? With colocation, the experienced staff at a world-class data center can handle them for you. In this guide, we’ll discuss this advantageous IT equipment hosting option and how it can work for your business.

What Is Colocation Hosting?

Colocation hosting is providing space in a data center where tenants can host their servers. A colocation data center has numerous tenants. While the hosting company owns and runs the data center, the tenants own the servers. They choose and purchase the servers and then rent space in the data center to store them in.

The hosting company provides various services and supplementary equipment necessary for the operation of the servers. In addition to space for each server, the hosting company also typically provides electrical power, cooling, internet connectivity and networking equipment. They also provide vital physical and digital security services.

Under some colocation agreements, the hosting company also provides server installation, management and maintenance services. Under others, the tenant manages their servers remotely. In either case, the hosting company typically offers emergency services in which they respond to physical issues during natural disasters and other emergencies.

How Do Colocation Data Centers Work?

Colocation data centers typically offer the following:

  • Space: Space is one of the basic amenities that a colocation center provides. The center may provide cabinets, cages and private suites where tenants can host their equipment. The areas where servers are hosted typically have raised floors to allow cables and other utilities to be run underneath.
  • Power: Reliable power is essential for any data center. In addition to the main power supply, data centers also typically have numerous redundant power distribution units (PDUs) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) as well as a backup generator. The power system should be set up to minimize downtime
  • Cooling: Because IT equipment generates so much heat, cooling systems are crucial in any data center. Colocation facilities may use any of various cooling technologies, including chilled-water cooling, water-free cooling and air-side economizers.
  • Network: Colocation data centers also need to provide reliable internet connectivity at sufficient speeds. Many centers offer various connection types and carrier options. Some centers also provide cloud services and other amenities.
  • Building management: There’s a lot to manage in data centers, and conditions need to be kept just right, so many hosting companies use building management systems to monitor their facilities. With these systems, they can monitor the HVAC system, power systems and more. Data centers also employ skilled technicians who monitor the facility.
  • Resilient building architecture: It’s important that the buildings themselves are built for resiliency to keep tenants’ equipment safe. Data centers are often built to withstand extreme weather, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, especially in areas where these events are common. Fire detection and suppression systems are also essential elements of a data center.
  • Security: Data centers need to have strong physical and electronic security measures in place to protect their tenants’ equipment and data. They may use biometric scanners, which scan someone’s fingerprint, retina, voice or face to determine whether they are allowed access. They may also have a mantrap, an area at the entrance of the server room where both doors remain locked until the individual inside is authenticated.
  • Compliance: Colocation data centers may also be set up to comply with various standards and regulations. Facilities may undergo audits to ensure HIPAA compliance, payment card industry (PCI) compliance and more.

When exploring your colocation data center options, you may see centers described in terms of their tier. Data centers are ranked according to a system of tiers based on their reliability. Tier 1 is the lowest, most basic level, while tier 4 is the top level and indicates the highest expected availability percentage.

What Are the Benefits of Data Center Colocation?

Colocation can offer many benefits, including:

  • Reduced costs: Hosting your servers in-house is expensive. You need to purchase equipment, hire IT personnel and install security systems. Hosting your own servers also increases your energy costs significantly. For many companies, it is more cost-effective to pay a colocation center to provide the necessary equipment and services.
  • Superior reliability: Colocation data centers are built for reliability and typically have redundant power and cooling systems, backup power generators, extensive physical security systems and other systems aimed at improving reliability. Most companies could not feasibly achieve this level of reliability on their own.
  • Scalability: If your servers are hosted at a colocation center, you can quickly and easily add new servers and other equipment as your needs change. You can also choose between full and partial racks. You won’t need to worry about running out of space, time, personnel or other resources like you would if you were hosting your servers on-premises.
  • Geographic location: With colocation, you have the freedom to choose the geographic location where you’ll store your servers. You can locate them close to your users or wherever makes the most sense for your needs.
  • Access to expertise: The staff at colocation data centers specialize in managing their tenants’ servers and have extensive relevant skills and experience. It can be difficult to match this level of expertise in this specific area at your own facility, even if you have an experienced IT team. With colocation, you can feel confident that your servers are in good hands.
  • Less time and effort: If you host your own servers, you’re responsible for all aspects of installing, maintaining and managing them. With colocation, however, you have the option of contracting with the hosting company to complete all of these tasks. This arrangement gives you more time and energy to focus on your core business instead of managing your servers.
  • Predictable expenses: When you use a colocation data center instead of hosting your own servers, your expenses will be more predictable, especially if the hosting company handles server management and maintenance. When you locate your servers in a hosting company’s data center, you typically sign an agreement that indicates what you’ll pay each month. When you host your own servers, your costs can vary based on energy use, maintenance needs and other factors.

Colocation Services From Netrepid

If colocation sounds like the right option for you, consider Netrepid’s colocation data center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We can provide you with the space, power, cooling, networking and technical expertise needed to keep your servers running reliably. Our Tier 3-qualified data center includes:

  • A redundant power grid with four days of backup power
  • Redundant network equipment
  • Redundant fiber from multiple carriers over 10G links
  • Leibert Glycol N+1 air conditioning
  • Biometrically controlled access to the data center and racks
  • Video surveillance of the data center
  • SOC2 Type 2 audit conducted annually
  • HIPAA, PCI, NIST compliance
  • Plus, many other beneficial features

To learn more about our colocation services and other capabilities, contact us today.