Tag Archives: Colocation

Are You Considering Colocation? Ask Prospective Data Centers These 9 Questions to Make the Right Decision

datacenter humor colocation

When you look into colocation, what you need to know to find the right data center is a more limited list than with web hosting because you are providing all the equipment yourself. However, a number of crucial questions beyond price remain. Top concerns are provided below, boiled down into ten questions, in two categories:

  • General data center questions
  • Questions related to hardware handling.

5 general questions for your colocation datacenter

Here are five key questions you should ask your datacenter, according to PC World:

What physical security checks are in place?

A datacenter, whether it is maintained in-house or used for colocation, should always fit the following parameters:

  • The building should be standalone so that security protocols can be applied building-wide.
  • The perimeter of the building should be at least 20 feet wide and should be surrounded by a fence.
  • It should not be immediately adjacent to the office of the business to which it belongs.
  • It should be outfitted with security cameras and staffed by guards who check photo IDs at two different positions.

How virtual are you?

This question applies less directly to colocation situations, but the answer is a good indicator that a datacenter is cutting costs in the right way. One of the easiest and safest ways for a web hosting and colocation facility to become more cost-effective is through virtualization. Find out what the ratio is between physical servers and virtual servers. PC World advises that you choose a datacenter with at least four times as many VPS servers (virtual private servers) as physical servers, preferably three times that figure.

How green are you?

Going green isn’t just about environmental sustainability. It’s about cost savings. A data center should always be striving for greater efficiency, and energy is an obvious place for continual improvements.

A strong and professional colocation center will be interested in any information that you or other third parties might have to provide on the subject. Facebook and other large organizations have made cogent suggestions to their utility companies, allowing greater efficiency for their data center climate systems. Your company may not be as large as Facebook, but your voice should still be heard.

How do you accomplish cooling?

If cooling is important to Facebook, it should probably be important to your business as well. All servers in a datacenter should reside in rooms that remain at 68-75°F (20-24°C) at all times. Servers and other hardware generate a massive amount of heat, so cooling typically represents 50% of a datacenter’s overhead.

In the past, many colocation facilities cooled excessively, thinking they were erring on the side of caution, but low temperatures are not healthy for equipment either. You want the datacenter you choose to have climate control integrated with the server infrastructure. Sensors throughout the building should be monitored remotely, 24/7, by a well-trained staff of IT engineers.

What are your plans for disaster recovery?

Mitigating your risk of disaster is all about preparation. Data centers, like any businesses, don’t like to overspend on any aspect of business (parts or labor), so DR (disaster recovery) does not always get the attention it deserves.

A great example of disaster recovery gone wrong is an incident that occurred at 365 Main, a highly respected Silicon Valley outfit, in 2007. Although the company claims to this day it is “the world’s finest datacenter experience,” when the lights of its San Francisco datacenter went out seven years ago, 40% of its client were negatively impacted. The company stated that it needed eight working diesel generators for disaster situations, and although it had ten in place, three didn’t start due to a failure in an electronic controller. However, equipment failures also represent failures in routine maintenance.

5 datacenter questions regarding equipment handling

A specific concern related to colocation arises if and when the datacenter needs to move your equipment, such as when it is first installed. Data Center Knowledge provides five questions related specifically to safe handling of servers:

  • Does the colocation facility foresee any issues related to the weight of your servers or the height of your racks?
  • How wide are the aisles in the datacenter?
  • How many people will help to move the equipment?
  • What guidelines will be used to make sure that the equipment is properly aligned?
  • Will a server lifting system be used?

That last question is particularly crucial. Server racks can weigh as much as 500 pounds or more. You need to know exactly what’s going to happen, because mistakes are sometimes made and become less likely with proper checks and balances. In one high-profile incident, IBM was sued for over $1 million when a server fell from a forklift it was using to transfer equipment within one of its data centers.

1 question for you

Are you in need of a redundant and robust colocation solution? Choose a colocation partner that has 20 years of experience and a datacenter that is certified to meet the standards of SSAE 16 (SOC 1) TYPE II: Atlantic.Net.

By Brett Haines; comic words by Kent Roberts and art by Leena Cruz.

What do I need for colocation hosting? (& comic)

hosting humor colocation

Are you considering colocation? It’s not easy to find balanced information on the topic because the top search rankings are dominated by companies pitching their own colocation services. There are three primary questions you need to answer to be able to confidently choose colocation:

  • Who will manage the equipment?
  • Where will it be stored?
  • What will your equipment be?

Let’s look at each of these different aspects to get a better sense of the overall colocation experience.

Who: Managing your own colocated servers

First of all, with colocation you will need a system administrator to manage the server. That person will also need to have all the necessary tools to be able to run the server. According to Ranjit Nayak of Cisco, the primary responsibilities of server management fall into two general categories: configuration and monitoring. However, keep in mind that managing a server is actually a cycle consisting of the following five components:

  1. server configuration
  2. server monitoring
  3. problem detection
  4. analysis
  5. determination of changes needed.

Essentially, the main role of a system administrator managing your colocated servers is to conduct each of those tasks repeatedly. Both the configuration and monitoring phases are somewhat different depending on the type of server. Since virtual servers are generally outside the realm of colocation and since application servers have their own challenges, we won’t get into the differences for system administration but will instead focus (in brief) on physical servers.

Configuration

When configuring your server with consideration of your overall infrastructure, basic categories of concern to the sysadmin are firmware, the network, and power.

Monitoring

When monitoring the colocated servers, your sysadmin will be paying attention to such parameters as availability, feedback, and failures of two basic types: network transmit and power.

Where: Storing your colocated servers

Storage sounds initially like it is just about space requirements. However, as Michael Potts points out in Data Center Knowledge, colocation is not as easy as looking at costs for set amounts of square footage. In fact, your colocation service should be determined largely by the amount of electrical power and cooling that your equipment will need.

Potts notes that you should in fact not focus on space as much as you focus on power, because colocation clients are more likely to run into power limitations first. It’s best to address this problem upfront: rather than thinking of your colocation requirements in terms of a physical area, think primarily of power and cooling. The advantage to this approach is that you can find a more cost-effective solution with minimal vulnerability based on a more strategized approach toward capacity.

Potts references a SunGard white paper based on the power-over-space thesis that explores the issue in detail.

What: Choosing or building your colocated servers

Figuring out your equipment is the other major challenge. More is at stake with colocation than with traditional hosting because the equipment belongs to you. Your servers become an investment, so you want your selections to be correct. Matthew Mombrea of IT world discusses the basic options: “out-of-the-box” solutions versus the DIY route of building your own server.

Out-of-the-box – There are two basic solutions as far as prebuilt servers go, says Mombrea. You can put money aside as a factor and choose a major brand such as HP or Dell, so that you know your server is mainstream and attached to relatively strong support. If you need a more economical route, you can buy from an organization such as Pogo Linux, which will configure the server for you also for a fee. Whatever “out-of-the-box” company you choose, you don’t have to figure out each of the individual pieces of the server, which is nice if that’s not your expertise.

Build your own – In this case, you construct the server yourself. Mombrea warns that it is easy to make mistakes with this avenue. A typical problem you might run into is ordering pieces that aren’t compatible with each other, whether technologically or physically.

Servers come in all different formulations, but the basic elements you will need for your server are below. In addition to these items, you will also want a RAID controller if you want to use a RAID system for storage.

  • Hard drive
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Motherboard
  • Chassis.

Taking the next step

If you have a general sense of the answers to the above questions, you will have a much better sense of what you need to set up your colocation service the right way. One other primary question is what datacenter you should choose. We offer colocation at Atlantic.net, and one of the areas in which we excel is that we are not “one size fits all.” Instead, we help customers with all their concerns and customize solutions designed to meet individual business needs.

By Brett Haines; comic words by Kent Roberts and art by Leena Cruz.

Why Do Companies Colocate?

Colocation is one of the options for hosting offered at Atlantic. With colocation, you get space and bandwidth. Essentially, you are taking advantage of the expertise of a hosting company for providing the right type of physical environment for your hardware and its abilities to properly and effectively feed you onto the web.

The only thing that is different about colocation is that you are providing your own equipment. With any other type of hosting – dedicated, shared, VPS (virtual private server), cloud, whatever – you use equipment provided by the hosting company. Oftentimes, people like to be in control of the equipment. For one thing, they think of it as an investment. Additionally, they like to be able to customize each part if they want – to “build” the server like a custom car.

Along with having to go out and figure out what type of equipment you want, colocation also has the challenge of not being managed to the same degree as with other hosting solutions. With colocation, the equipment is all yours, so depending on the colocation facility you use, you may have to handle certain aspects of its maintenance. Of course, the climate control of the room, disaster recovery, etc., are still handled by the host.

As you can see, colocation is complicated, but it is a very popular choice, especially for companies with a growing number of servers. Let’s look at a number of different reasons why companies choose colocation so we can better understand this hosting option. I will review some ideas from the “young entrepreneur network” EntreRev and provide some thoughts of my own.

Support

One reason to choose colocation, suggested by EntreRev, is 24/7 tech support. That sounds strange if comparing it to other hosting solutions with the same feature, but EntreRev is contrasting colocation to keeping your own server or servers in-house, as many small businesses do. EntreRev also notes the level of skill at a colocation center (and keep in mind, many hosting companies also function as colocation facilities – there’s a lot of crossover).

That skill level is an important point. If you hire an IT person or use an independent contractor, chances are they will not have the same server and data center expertise. IT is a massive field, so you want specialization. The tech professionals at data centers specialize in setting up equipment and maintaining it.

Infrastructure

The infrastructure within a colocation facility that is “purpose-built” – built specifically with that usage in mind – is completely designed for all the needs of a tech environment. Furthermore, a quality colocation center or web host is thoroughly focused on redundancies. That means you don’t just get bandwidth, but you also won’t go through periods of time when you’re blocked from using it (downtime). In other words, the network is highly reliable because many checks and balances are in place.

Scalability

EntreRev says that space is one of the largest initial factors that SMB faces with its technology. You can’t keep adding servers into a closet, because you eventually run out of space. Get a little bigger, and the same becomes true of a room. Turn to the idea of building a data center, and it’s unclear how large to make it. Do you make it triple the size you need currently, and leave a large part of it empty? Even if you can afford the upfront expense, size immediately becomes confusing. With colocation, rent the amount of area you need and bump it up as you go.

Green Power

You will experience strength in numbers at a data center. That means that not only will you get your IT servicing for less and your space for less, but you will also be consuming energy with many other businesses. It’s been proven time and time again that a purpose-built data center excels in energy efficiency, reducing all clients’ power bills. That makes your business greener. You save money, but you also have all the benefits of environmental friendliness (such as use for marketing, etc.).

Purchasing Power

Again regarding strength in numbers, the rates for bandwidth and energy are reduced for bulk buyers such as a colocation facility. Massive amounts of each of these elements are negotiated by a savvy colocation center, and some of those savings are passed on to clients.

Network Carriers

You will have multiple carriers to choose from, which enhances competition. This also get you better prices on bandwidth. If you have a problem with one carrier, you can switch to another. If there are outages with the carrier, jump ship immediately: that functionality is integrated into an adept colocation center. For example, at Atlantic, we automatically switch you over if one of the carriers goes down.

Conclusion

Colocation is not for everyone. If you feel you are ready to go out, get the equipment, and have more of the technical responsibility for your servers yourself, this option may be right for you. At Atlantic, we are proud of our Colocation services. We have worked hard to make them as or more sophisticated and reliable than our competitors, at an affordable price. To see what we have to offer, click here.

By Kent Roberts

Things to Consider When Thinking about Colocation

Network ConnectionsSo you’ve invested a great deal of money in a top-notch server and the hardware that powers it, but where do you put it if you find your office does not have the space or other resources to power it? One great option for such a situation is colocation.

Colocation allows your business to continue to use your current hosting architecture, but store it within the confines of a secure and well-maintained data center. Essentially, colocation is like a dedicated hosting solution, except you are using your own equipment.

Colocated hosting pricing depends on a wide variety of factors such as the quantity of space the server occupies and the amount of bandwidth regularly consumed. It is important to note that with this type of solution, you will still be held responsible for maintaining and upgrading your hardware as necessary.

When looking for a colocation hosting provider, you will need to look for a company that maintains a world-class data center with strong security and disaster-prevention measures—specifically 24/7 secure entry and high-class environmental controls.

Regardless of the size of your business, colocation hosting allows you to save a modest amount of money due to lower maintenance, power and administrative costs. If you are interested in learning more about Atlantic.Net’s colocation data center, contact us today at websales@atlantic.net.

The Benefits of Colocation at a Data Site

Colocation is a popular practice among businesses of all sizes to house their mission critical data and data network equipment in a data center environment, such as Atlantic.Net’s data site in Orlando. There are many benefits of colocation hosting, a few of which are outlined below:

Redundancy: Housing network infrastructure in a physically secure, fully redundant data center facility ensures data is available at all times. In the event of an outage at one facility, network traffic is rerouted to another facility to ensure high availability. This level of redundancy may not be available in-house.

Control: Colocation enables businesses to decide which upgrades to install, when to perform backups, and how those backups are facilitated. In addition, many data centers offer consulting work to help businesses offload some of their IT projects. This helps businesses save time, money, and valuable resources.

Cost savings: Not only is it expensive to build out a data center environment, but the monthly power costs are also high. Colocation allows businesses to avoid the high cost of in-house storage, power, and bandwidth. In addition, colocation can be beneficial to businesses that have already spent the upfront costs in creating their network and server infrastructure.

Improved compliance: Most data centers have already set up an environment to make compliance with most standards easier for you. Atlantic.Net’s data centers, for instance, are already SSAE 16 (SOC 1) TYPE II (Formerly SAS 70) compliant, making it easier for you to meet the requirements for HIPAA, HITECH, and other regulations.

Atlantic.Net provides world-class colocation at our data site in Orlando and has been for over a decade.  Our Orlando data site is a great choice for organizations that want to colocate in Orlando with a 100% uptime guarantee!  Our facility offers state-of-the-art redundant systems, guaranteed power, temperature/humidity control, and security. Contact an Atlantic.Net advisor today at 800-521-5881 to learn more!

CenturyLink Acquires Qwest – A Data Center Opportunity

CenturyLink acquiring Qwest is surprising news for the IT and Telecom Industries. For the longest time, I thought Sprint would be a good fit to merge with Qwest but I guess I was wrong!

CentruyLink surprised us all last year when they acquired Embarq, and now Qwest?  Although it eliminates consumer choices in some areas, it also makes a strong statement about a smaller company taking over one of the larger conglomerates, a statement that I personally like! Continue reading

Atlantic.Net Protects Businesses Through Another Hurricane Season!

As the 2009 hurricane season draws to a close we can all let out a huge sigh of relief. For some, that sigh will be larger than others if they weren’t prepared.  Atlantic.Net is always ready to weather the storm and we take pride that we are constantly thinking into the future.  Some of our preparations for this hurricane season included putting a new roof on our building, performing an entire overhaul of our industrial grade UPS-complete with new components, and performing preventative maintenance on our HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning).   As always, our secure, hurricane proof Data Center is staffed 24x7x365 with a back-up generator and multiple redundant connections to the Internet backbone. Continue reading

Fix the Net Today!

When Atlantic.Net was asked to help answer some questions for an article to be published in the computer world, we turned to Tony S., our Sr. Windows Administrators. With his 15+ years of full spectrum IT experience, Tony is a Microsoft specialist and also holds certifications from Cisco, Citrix, and VMware.  He has experience in development of advanced technology solutions and designing/building/managing IT operations for both internal and customer-facing systems. Continue reading

An Introduction to Data Loss Prevention

This paper serves as a primer on preventing “data loss,” an umbrella term that encompasses two distinct phenomena: system failure and network intrusion.

Firms that fail to protect their data – often proprietary customer information – not only suffer from unflattering news coverage but the often crippling expenses related to churn, Service Level Agreements and project redesign.  A good deal of the fallout from data loss can be prevented with a measure of investment that seems minute in comparison to the risks of remaining vulnerable. Continue reading

What is Colocation?

Colocation is a popular practice among small, medium, and large sized businesses to house their mission critical data and data network equipment in a data center environment.  Many companies decide to colocate for various reasons like network up-time and to avoid high cost of in house storage and bandwidth.  Colocation can be beneficial to businesses that have already put out the upfront expense of creating their network and server infrastructure.

Moreover, Colocation data centers are highly popular for business that already staff their IT departments. With colocation, companies are able to not only lease space in climate and humidity controlled environment with ample power and bandwidth, but they are also able to set up redundancy which otherwise may not be available in-house. Continue reading