How Data Center Colos Benefit Business

Technology is moving at the speed of light, and data centers are being pushed to rapidly expand. How can you quickly deploy your data center infrastructure? As data center construction was paused or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are turning to colocation models to quickly expand their footprint and support their virtual needs. If your infrastructure growth strategy doesn’t include colocation, should you consider it?

What is a Colo?  

What classifies a data center as a colocation facility? Simply put colocation facilities, also known as colos, rent or lease space to multiple enterprises and organizations with guarantees around cooling, physical security, bandwidth, power and more. These are typically dedicated to long-term infrastructure. Colos can either furnish data center hardware such as server racks or end users can bring in their own preferred equipment. Many businesses choose this option over a cloud model if they need physical servers to support their infrastructure. 

Colos typically follow the Uptime Institute’s four tier levels. The Uptime Institute clearly defines Tiers I-IV as follows:   

Tier I - Expected Uptime of 99.7%  

"A Tier I data center is the basic capacity level with infrastructure to support information technology for an office setting and beyond. "

Tier II - Expected Uptime of 99.7%  

"Tier II facilities cover redundant capacity components for power and cooling that provide better maintenance opportunities and safety against disruptions. Small businesses in need of affordable and reliable data security often choose this level."

Tier III – Expected Uptime 99.98%  

"A Tier III data center is concurrently maintainable with redundant components as a key differentiator, with redundant distribution paths to serve the critical environment. Unlike Tier I and Tier II, these facilities require no shutdowns when equipment needs maintenance or replacement. This tier is commonly used among growing companies that require high levels of efficiency and security for their servers and data." Tier IV – Expected Uptime 99.99%   "A Tier IV data center has several independent and physically isolated systems that act as redundant capacity components and distribution paths. The separation is necessary to prevent an event from compromising both systems. The environment will not be affected by a disruption from planned and unplanned events. However, if the redundant components or distribution paths are shut down for maintenance, the environment may experience a higher risk of disruption if a failure occurs. This is typically for large, elite companies with extremely high web traffic, heavy processing demands and international reach."

[Read more on the Uptime Institute's Tier Classification on their website.]
Benefits of Using a Colo 

Data center colos benefit businesses in a few ways. Everything can be turnkey when you decide to use a colo. 

1) Scalability:   

One of the main benefits of a colo is scalability. Increasing power density/ kilowatts (kW) per rack can make it difficult to predict how much power you will need in the future. A colo makes it so you don’t have to commit to the investment upfront and allows you to “build as you go.” That means when researching colo providers you should look at how they can support your current needs, and future capacity.   

2) Network Security:  

With heightened threats to network security and data, many organizations are placing a large emphasis on network security. Looking at colos and network security, the sky's the limit, and something to strongly consider during the RFP process. Many colos offer additional layers of cybersecurity on top of their colo packages.  

3) Physical Security:  Depending on your colo provider and agreement you can benefit from their physical security protocol. When reviewing colo offerings, look for the four layers of data center security:

  • Perimeter security  
  • Facility controls  
  • Computer room controls  
  • Cabinet controls  

Perimeter security is the first layer and focuses on deterring and preventing unauthorized access around the perimeter of the data center. Video surveillance around the data center is part of this layer. 

Facility controls are the second layer of protection and focus on preventing access to the colo. Typical tactics include security guards and check-in and check-out systems, biometric access control and high-resolution video surveillance. 

The third level of data center security is computer room controls. This focuses heavily on multiple layers of authentication and can further include biometric access and control cards. There should only be a select number of individuals who have access to the data center computer room. 

The fourth level of physical data center security is cabinet controls. This protects not only from unauthorized access but also insider threats and security breaches. Tactics can include server rack locking hardware, cage systems and further video surveillance focused on rack entry points.  

Keep in mind that these four layers work together to keep your information safe. Ask questions if the colo is missing any of the layers.  

4) Budget Friendly/ Cost  

Many companies turn to colo as an alternative to the costs associated with the construction and upkeep of on-premise data centers. Colos lease their space, so multiple organizations are sharing the cost of the property and power/ energy instead of paying for them on their own. Data Center Frontier shared that new data center costs include planning and commission investments, permits, taxes, building costs and costs on computing infrastructure, which can quickly run up the tab. In addition, the same article highlighted that “Spending on power utilities can account for as much as 80 percent of operational costs, and maintenance can contribute to 5 percent of total initial costs” for new data center construction.

Something to remember is that while colos can save money, there is still a CapEx investment when using your hardware. Other costs could include managed services if you want their team to deploy and manage your data center hardware. In addition, on-premises data centers are a necessity for certain organizations, and they have created their own cost savings models for long-term use.

Key Takeaways 

The demand for lightning-fast, secure online experiences isn’t slowing down any time soon. For businesses that need to quickly scale, cannot afford any downtime and need to protect their data — and user data — from outside threats, colos are a great option. Having a quality colo facility that protects your data and offers an interruption-free experience for your users could be a key factor in your business's future growth and success. 

Are you responsible for data center infrastructure? If so, we can help. For over thirty years DAMAC has engineered and manufactured custom server racks to support increasing densities. Talk with our team today to get a quote!   

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