Starter Server Series Part 4: Colocation

Hoo-wah! We’re getting to the big guns here: Colocation centers are, for the majority of you out there, not something you want to get into. I’m only including them here for the purposes of being thorough, but for the most part anyone who needs and is able to use colocation is far beyond what this post will explain to them. I’m a curious soul, though, and I imagine some of you out there are too- so what is colocation?

Colocation is simply renting space and bandwidth from a data center. Usually it entails getting your own locked area with network hookups and server racks, where you can deploy your hardware as you see fit.  You are responsible for all the hardware and software maintenance and installation, and there will be no magic sysadmin to save you should your hardware or software suffer catastrophic failure. You’re truly on your own!

So who the heck would want it?

Well- it becomes cost effective if you’re running a ton of servers on-site. Colocation centers (at least the better ones) have full solutions for everything ranging from cooling to fire prevention. They provide bandwidth, power, and safety as well as sophisticated power backup generators and guarantees of uptime. Designing server rooms in older buildings that don’t have adequate cooling or ventilation is, to put it mildly, supremely frustrating (I’ve even seen modern server rooms, built with cooling in mind, plagued by heat issues). Oftentimes the bill for power usage, cooling, and backup systems comes out to an extremely painful sum for all concerned. A colocation center solves this by taking care of all those aspects- a company can forget about designing a server room and focus simply on maintaining their servers.

ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this solution will not be for you. Most people don’t have the need for colocation or even the experience to keep one up and running well; a dedicated server or two will most likely fit the needs of just about every small or medium-sized business. If you foresee your company becoming a hulking juggernaut of commerce, however, you may want to sit down with your new sysadmin (or three) and talk about colocation and server usage- it may save you money and headaches in the long run!