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Colocation Services -5 criteria for picking a colocation provider

Posted by QuoteColo on April 02, 2013 - Updated on May 31, 2013


When evaluating colocation services, clients need to analyze many different facets of the colocation provider’s service offering. To start, the term Colocation refers to the provisioning of rack space for a client owned server(s) and network gear at a hosting company’s data center facility. The client pays a monthly fee to rent rack space, power and bandwidth. In this article, we will review the top 5 criteria when picking a colocation provider.


1) Physical Location – In most cases, you should look for a colocation data center within a 1 hour drive time from your main office or within close proximity to your local IT staff. Since it will be your responsibility to manage your servers and network gear, it is very important to choose a data center that is close and convenient to get to by auto or mass transport. Check to make sure if there is plenty of free parking available as well. There is nothing worse than getting to the data center and having to walk 1/2 mile with network gear in hand.

2) Redundancy – This is the main reason most companies choose to outsource their mission critical infrastructure within a colocation data center. Have your IT team (or hire a consultant if you don’t have one) analyze all facets of the provider’s redundancy including power, bandwidth and cooling. Ask if the data center is connected to two separate power grids. Do the power feeds come into the facility at two separate locations? Is there a centralized UPS (uniterruptible power source) that will keep your power “smooth” and working? For Internet bandwidth, ask which carriers are used for your bandwidth “handoff” and ask how the traffic is routed. What happens if one of the carriers is having latency or packet loss? For cooling, ask what types of systems are in place and what is the back up plan if the main cooling system fails. Clients utilizing per U servers and blade servers should learn more about the options of adding more cooling to their stack if their ambient temperature is not correct.

3) Customer Service/Technical Support – Many clients really fail when it comes to understanding customer service and technical support in the analysis stage of picking a colocation provider. Instead of asking your sales rep what is available, make sure you take a first hand look yourself! Before signing a contract, visit the data center a couple times during both business and non business hours. Try a visit after 8pm to see if the data center is still well staffed with technical support personnel. During your visit, try to strike up a conversation with a data center “techie” to see what his/her level of competence is related to your specific colocation requirements. Along with visiting the data center, try calling the support line during non standard business hours. This is an important consideration if you need a simple reboot at 2 o’clock in the morning!

4) References – Ask your potential colocation providers for a list of references. Since most providers will only give you “happy” references, make sure to “dig” a little and ask those references if they know of any other clients at the colocation provider’s data center. These unbiased references will most likely give you some better feedback when making your ultimate decision.

5) Go with your “gut” – Sometimes we see clients ignore simple things in making a colocation provider decision. How comfortable are you working with the sales rep? Did he respond to you in a quick and timely fashion? Does the colocation provider really want your business or will you just be filling up some rack space for them? When making a final decision (with all other criteria even), pick the provider that makes you feel the best and where your heart feels most strongly.

Categories: Colocation

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