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What is Colocation in a Data Center?

Colocation is the practice of housing privately-owned servers and networking equipment in a third-party data center. Instead of the in-house scenario where servers live within a room or a section of an organization’s own business infrastructure, there is the option to “co-locate” equipment by renting space in a colocation center (also known as a third-party data center).

Colocation was once a pricey yet useful option for large IT companies and major companies. Today, an increasingly broad range of people are realizing that colocation could bring them unique benefits and help them launch and scale their businesses.

This article explains, in plain language, what colocation is and why it should be a part of your data center strategy.

Explaining colocation

Companies that outgrow their server capacity at an office, at home, or in a small data center can list their servers for rent at a colocation data center. Those servers will benefit from the power and cooling capabilities of a much larger data center. Frequently, the colocation data center provider will add its own network switch to the server, and the owner of the server will manage it remotely. That remote management capability is often offered via a web-based interface or a custom-made software application that can be accessed via a browser.

In some colocation situations, the server administration is done entirely by the colocation provider. You can trade server power, space, and bandwidth for other services, like lighting and electricity, cable installation, and maintenance services.

Colocation for individuals and small businesses

Colocation is an attractive solution for individuals and small businesses that don’t need to own their own physical servers. You can rent a colocation server that gives you remote access to collect data from your server, which is very helpful in certain situations. Even if you have a fast internet connection, you may have to deal with certain impediments like slow data transfers.

What is colocation? Definition of colocation

Since colocation exists in multiple forms, it is sometimes hard to explain just what is colocation. Here are a few popular types of colocation:

Fixed-power colocation: This involves renting a part of a data center for a fixed price. You deliver your physical equipment to the colocation service provider, and they set up the equipment on their hardware, provide power, cooling, network connection, and access to your data.

This involves renting a part of a data center for a fixed price. You deliver your physical equipment to the colocation service provider, and they set up the equipment on their hardware, provide power, cooling, network connection, and access to your data. Fully-managed colocation: This represents renting a physical space or rack in a data center, and the provider will manage all aspects of the data center infrastructure. You can get immediate access to the power, network connection, and physical space.

This represents renting a physical space or rack in a data center, and the provider will manage all aspects of the data center infrastructure. You can get immediate access to the power, network connection, and physical space. Barreling colocation: This solution offers more automation than the other options. It involves renting physical space and other services from the colocation provider, and the provider will manage required hardware and software installation. The provider will also handle moving your equipment from the shipping container.

This solution offers more automation than the other options. It involves renting physical space and other services from the colocation provider, and the provider will manage required hardware and software installation. The provider will also handle moving your equipment from the shipping container. Virtual colocation: This solution involves renting physical space in a data center, and the provider manages the servers. You can have the bandwidth required to run your application from the server you’ve rented. You can access the servers through a web interface and make orchestrated changes to the virtualized servers.

Benefits of colocation

The primary draw for businesses of any size is cost savings. Companies that have outgrown their data center capacity can quickly and easily move their equipment to colocation data centers, which are available in multiple configurations to fit their needs. This approach also gives companies the ability to downsize equipment or bandwidth when needed, without the costly requirements for installing larger equipment.

Another big upside to colocation is the ability to quickly provision equipment and research new possibilities. For example, the auto industry was able to use colocation to gain a competitive advantage in developing driverless vehicle technology.

Understanding colocation

Colocation is popular among individuals and small businesses, but it’s proving to have a place in corporate data center strategies, too. A large technology company with hundreds of data centers could see colocation as a way to boost the economic value of the company. A data center colocation platform is an asset that can be sold at each location, bringing in more revenue for the company.

Combining colocation with other IT services

You can achieve even better results when you combine the colocation benefit with additional benefits. For example, you could explore a process that involves colocating your equipment at a major colocation data center that would also offer data center management, technical support, network management, load balancing, and disaster recovery services.

With colocation, you gain a substantial advantage in deploying your applications. You can go live with a new project more easily than you might imagine.

Why colocation over other data center solutions?

There are other options available for hosting or deploying your IT infrastructure. Some companies are choosing colocation over other options like cloud-based hosting or going with their own in-house servers, racks, and networking equipment.

Benefits of colocation:

Cost-effectiveness: Companies outgrowing their server capacity and finding it impossible to manage and monitor their servers can find colocation to be a very cost-effective way to expand their systems without fresh start-up costs.

Companies outgrowing their server capacity and finding it impossible to manage and monitor their servers can find colocation to be a very cost-effective way to expand their systems without fresh start-up costs. Lower overhead and fixed costs: As colocation evolves to incorporate additional services (such as data center management), you pay for the service you need.

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