Why you need to know about colocation?
Data centres constitute the nucleus of the contemporary technology industry. Neglecting to leverage the efficiency and emerging technologies they provide may result in your business lagging behind in terms of IT services.
Colocation presents enterprises with the chance to utilise third-party data centres, yet several factors must be carefully considered to determine its suitability for your company.
What is colocation?
Colocation involves the relocation of your servers and other IT equipment to a third-party data centre. This proves to be a more cost-effective (and notably less challenging) alternative than constructing your own data centre, offering a myriad of additional benefits.
The basics of colocation:
Every business relies on servers to operate their computer services, and these servers require a connection to the internet. Maintaining servers in a dedicated server room within your office presents several challenges:
- Costly Energy Consumption: The operation and cooling of your servers demand substantial energy expenses.
- Continuous Monitoring: 24-hour technical engineer surveillance is necessary for server maintenance.
- Security Concerns: Securing your server room can be a complex task.
Embracing Colocation by relocating your servers to a data centre effectively addresses these challenges while enhancing resilience and security. Colocation in data centres features multiple server racks, with clients renting as many Colocation racks as needed for their equipment. Additionally, some colocation data centres incorporate eco-friendly cooling systems that leverage evaporation to reduce energy consumption.
The key benefits of Colocation
Create room to grow – Your in-house servers take up a lot of expensive office space (especially in London). Moving your IT equipment into a colocation data centre will not only give you more office space (and therefore help you save costs), but if you DO have to move, you don’t have to worry about moving your servers again.
Power supply redundancies – Colocation data centres use UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and generators to protect equipment from power failure, which guarantees your IT systems keep running and prevents any damage a power failure could cause.
Your IT infrastructure can grow – If you need to expand your IT equipment beyond the space you have in your office, this could stifle your ability to operationally grow the business. Once you move to colocation rack space in a colocation data centre, you’ll never have to worry about finding more rackspace.
Connectivity options – In a world of hybrid-working, running essential computer systems off your standard office broadband is a recipe for disaster for your remote workers. The internet connectivity in a colocation data centre will be a significant upgrade as they operate ultra-fast, carrier-neutral and highly resilient fibre networks.
Peace of mind – Tier 3 colocation data centres deploy sophisticated ‘concurrently maintainable’ (i.e. highly resilient) power, cooling, and internet connectivity systems. You don’t need to worry about an outage if one component (i.e. an air-con unit) fails, as there are multiple redundant systems in place to pick up the slack.
Efficient Cooling Systems – Lots of servers generate a lot of heat, and cooling them can be very expensive. Colocation data centres run a lot more efficiently than traditional air conditioning units, which keeps costs down.
Lower costs – There are a number of ways that colocation services with a data centre will save you money. Their efficiency will reduce your energy-related costs, and they’ll give you more flexibility around your internet speeds and billing, as well as protecting you from downtime.
Enabling AI and VFX – The use of HPC (high-performance computing) for things like AI and VFX has grown significantly recently. However, HPC set-ups require extensive infrastructure to run, so for most companies, the only way to use them is by utilising a specialist HPC colocation data centre like our Gatwick site.
24-hour monitoring & remote hands – With round-the-clock monitoring and a remote hands service, colocation in a data centre means someone will be able to quickly fix an issue no matter what time of day or night it happens. This reduces downtime and saves your engineers a lot of time and effort.
Utilising a data centre for high-performance computing (HPC)
With the surge in demand for big data analytics, machine learning and AI, businesses are increasingly adopting high-performance computing (HPC). HPC stands as the advanced computing technology that underpins these digital advancements.
Given HPC’s demanding power and cooling requirements, the most straightforward approach for businesses to deploy it might be in an HPC-ready colocation data centre. In such a facility, storage space is abundant, and the environment is finely tuned to meet the specific needs of HPC.
Unlike traditional medium density CPU storage, which typically requires a power deployment of around 3 to 7 kW per rack, HPC clusters of CPU and GPU cores demand a significantly higher power draw, ranging from 20 to 40 kW per rack. This substantial increase in heat load necessitates specialist cooling.
At Redcentric, we provide immersion cooling hosting, an exceptionally efficient method involving the submersion of servers in liquid. We also have rear-door cooling to suit whatever your HPC needs are.
Read our blogs:
How green is colocation technology?
How secure are colocation data centres?
Transferring your servers to a colocation data centre means relying on their security protocols rather than your own. While this alleviates a significant burden for you and your business, it remains crucial to comprehensively understand the security measures in place for your equipment.
Ensuring that no unauthorised individuals gain physical access to your servers is imperative to safeguard the data stored on them. Especially when handling personal data subject to GDPR regulations, it becomes your responsibility to guarantee robust protection against misuse or mishandling.
Implementing the necessary security measures for specific data can pose challenges and expenses within your own office environment. In contrast, data centres inherently incorporate robust physical security measures.
At Redcentric we provide:
- 24-hour monitoring so your servers are never unattended
- Locked rack doors, locked with either combination, key, or biometric locks
- Biometrics to verify identity at the front desk
- Access list system so only people you’ve approved can access your rack
- Additional caged-area option preventing people from even coming close to your rack
Some data centres also offer cyber security services >
How resilient are colocation data centres?
One of the most significant benefits of colocation is its substantial reduction in downtime, attributed to exceptional levels of resiliency.
Connectivity – Data centres deliver their internet services in a carrier-neutral manner, ensuring connections with various internet providers. In the event of a network failure, the data centre can seamlessly switch to alternative providers. Moreover, the physical network cables exiting the data centre follow geographically diverse routes, mitigating risks such as construction work disrupting internet connections.
Power Failure – Data centres are fortified with Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and generators to maintain server power in the event of a primary failure. UPSs act as large-scale batteries, sustaining power until the generators take over.
The cost of colocation
Opting for colocation services in a data centre presents a valuable opportunity for cost savings within your business. The pricing of colocation is contingent on several factors, including:
- Amount of Space: Data centre racks are typically measured by height, denoted as ‘U.’ These racks come in various sizes, such as quarter racks (11U), half racks (22U), and full racks (ranging from 42 to 48U). Utilise our calculator to determine the appropriate rack size for your needs.
- Level of SLA (Service Level Agreement): Data centres offering comprehensive SLAs on system uptime generally entail higher costs. It’s essential to assess the acceptable downtime for your operations. Additional features like 24-hour access and remote hands may contribute to higher costs at premium data centres.
- Power Requirements: Data centres charge based on energy consumption, given the significant costs associated with power. Typically, a full rack consumes up to 24 amps of power, considered normal power density. Higher power density, exceeding this threshold, incurs additional costs due to increased energy requirements (both for running and cooling servers).
- Location: The geographical location of the data centre is a key factor. Facilities in major cities or capital cities tend to be 30-40% more expensive than those in non-metro areas. However, data centres outside urban centres offer unique advantages
Interested in a quote for colocation?
How to choose a data centre
If you are considering colocation you’ll need to start comparing data centres to see which offers the best colocation.
You can use our data centre checklist for the 22 essentials your colo facility should have, to check through and make sure the data centre you’re looking at has everything it should.
You also need to decide which tier of data centre would be best. Data centres tiers range from tier 1 (least resilient) to tier 4 (most resilient) and the most common in the UK is tier 3, which strikes a strong balance between resilience and cost. Read our explanation of data centre tiers.
How colocation compares to cloud
When embarking on digital transformation, specifically transitioning from on-premises servers to a managed infrastructure service, the primary options to consider are colocation vs cloud.
The fundamental distinction between colocation and cloud, both hosted in a data centre, lies in server ownership. In colocation, you retain ownership of your servers, whereas with the cloud, your provider assumes responsibility for all hardware. While neither approach is inherently superior, the choice may hinge on the following factors:
Security – If prioritising security is paramount and maintaining control over your data is crucial, colocation, where you retain ownership of your servers, may be the preferred option over cloud.
Scaling – Cloud services offer rapid scalability, allowing for swift adjustments in capacity. Colocation, while not complex to scale up, may not match the same level of flexibility as the cloud.
Responsibility – In a cloud setup, your provider manages all hardware maintenance, reducing the workload for your IT team. However, this comes with trade-offs, as your team may have less control over issue resolution and downtime scheduling.
Due to cloud’s ability to rapidly scale, and no need for capital investment, it’s where a lot of businesses start with their IT. However, it can grow unsuitable over time for several reasons including:
- Your system has grown too big to be cost-effective
- Security has become more important
- You have specialist requirements you need to build yourself
When this happens, the best option is to repatriate systems off the cloud. Colocation is incredibly valuable here since you don’t need to start housing your IT yourself, and you still retain an excellent level of resiliency.
Modern digital technology continues to advance rapidly. Fortunately, the choice between colocation and the cloud is not an either-or decision; instead, you have the option to integrate additional platforms into your colocation strategy to meet all your requirements. This approach, known as Hybrid-IT, embraces a workload-first methodology for managing your IT, allowing different applications to be hosted on diverse platforms without compromising on performance or capabilities.
Hybrid-IT represents an integrated IT system where various platforms, such as colocation, private cloud, public cloud, etc., seamlessly combine into a unified system.
Colocation offers exceptional resiliency, reliability, and the added security of storing data on your dedicated hardware. For organisations handling highly sensitive or proprietary data, colocation becomes an indispensable component of their IT strategy. However, when combined with the flexibility and expandability of the cloud, a Hybrid-IT system emerges as the optimal solution, offering the best of both worlds.
Colocation as part of your digital transformation
Colocation opens the door for businesses of any size to leverage the capabilities of a data centre. There are various hosting options for your IT system, and while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, integrating colocation into your strategy can enhance IT reliability and security while reducing costs. Capitalising on a data centre’s infrastructure while retaining ownership of your hardware brings a diverse range of benefits. To determine if colocation aligns with your digital transformation strategy, assess your capacity and specific needs, and seamlessly incorporate colocation into your plan.
If your business is at the right stage in your development to look into colocation, then make sure you follow the advice in our ‘How to choose a data centre’ section. When you start comparing, you can find Redcentric’s colocation offerings here. We have 8 data centres across the UK. If we’re a good match for you, then please get in touch with one of our experts for advice and a bespoke quote.