Selecting a colocation provider is a challenging and critical decision. Just like any other decision impacting business operations, careful consideration and time is needed to find the right partner. Taking a formalized and detailed approach to this decision can make the selection process go smoother.
The first caveat in choosing a colocation provider is not to take any short-cuts during the evaluation process. Although it may seem easiest to rely on a recommendation from a peer, it"s important to resist any decision not fully analyzed in an objective manner.
When the decision is finally made, companies often have peace of mind knowing they did everything they could to select the best colocation provider for their requirements. The following represents the starting points for a comprehensive analysis.
The facilities of the colocation provider must be equipped to withstand any system or equipment outages. Power and cooling systems must be technologically advanced with environmental controls must be in place. Redundancy of all systems needs to be built-in.And, everything needs to be monitored around-the-clock by on-site experts.
When considering a colocation provider, the network is a major piece of the puzzle. Companies need to know the network will be continuously available and operate at the necessary performance levels. If either of these features are lacking, a company"s business operations will be negatively impacted. And, the service to its own customers could take a major hit.
A colocation provider with multiple data center locations is best positioned to customize a solution to a company"s specific requirements. Important characteristics such as flexibility, scalability and security are important considerations. Colocation solutions should be available in a wide range of configurations. And, they should be easily adaptable to changing business needs.
Colocation services should be designed for the most demanding IT environments. Multiple layers of security, including biometrics and video surveillance, need to be integrated in a provider"s solution. Fully redundant power available 24/7 is a non-negotiable requirement for all businesses. Plus, experts should be on staff around-the-clock to assist companies whenever needed.
Environment controls must be proven and advanced. Features like high density power handling, N+1 cooling, and powerful computer room air conditioner (CRAC) units are critical environmental components of a colocation solution.
And, backup features should be sophisticated enough to handle every business need. For example, a colocation provider should offer extensive uninterruptible power systems and on-site diesel generators.
Finally, a provider should offer a customized solution for each company regardless of size or budget. The contract should spell out the details of the solution and how it will be tailored to meet business requirements. Agreements should also identify service levels and how the solution will adapt to changing needs.
The Colocation Provider
Given the popularity of colocation services, finding the best suited provider can be time and labor intensive. Once companies evaluate the facilities, network and services, they need to look carefully into the provider"s background.
For example, it"s critical to evaluate a provider"s financial condition. Entering into an agreement with a provider deeply in debt can put a company in jeopardy. Excessive and growing debt levels can spell bankruptcy down the road. At a minimum, debt can affect the provider"s service levels.
It"s also important to focus on colocation providers who have been around for awhile. Service providers with established track records are less likely to go away any time soon. Checking the provider"s stability and profitability can go a long way to reducing this risk and delivering the required level of services.