The Benefits of Co-Location

It’s only natural that business owners find the thought of moving mission critical data and resources to an off-site data centre facility pretty daunting initially, and a hard decision to make. As Matt Edgley, Sales Director at TeleData says, handing your integral systems and information to a third party data centre – however specialist – isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.  Here Edgley highlights user benefits of co-location as he sees them.

Making the move to a data centre based ‘co-location’ service doesn’t have to be a scary experience. When done correctly, and in conjunction with the right data centre partner, the transition to co-location can be made in a smooth and efficient manner resulting in performance, reliability and service advantages that only serve to enhance your brand reputation, online performance and competitive advantage.

Since its formation in 2007, data centre operator TeleData has been providing specialist co-location solutions from its primary base in Manchester.  Independent and debt free, the company’s purpose is to provide a quality based, optimised platform for the continued protection of its clients’ business critical IT systems.  TeleData says its privately owned Manchester data centre facility is the only data centre in the UK with a BS5979 accredited security operations centre on-site.  A long-term carrier neutral approach means TeleData offers greater options for network diversity than the majority of data centres in the North West.

Matt Edgley, Sales Director at TeleData has summarised some of the main benefits that you can expect when moving to a co-located service that is hosted and protected by a specialist data centre provider….

1. Internal Confidence

Utilising a purpose built data centre facility allows you to immediately gain valuable confidence that your IT estate is stable, secure and protected against factors which could otherwise cause potentially catastrophic downtime.  The economies of scale on offer within a large scale data centre mean that you benefit from the very highest quality technical infrastructure – infrastructure that would usually prove cost prohibitive within private, in-house data centres or server rooms.

By making the move, you and your business can finally rest easy that any possible outage caused by power cuts, floods, cooling failures or security breaches are mitigated against – enabling you to focus on your core business in complete confidence, without the constant worry and inconvenience of 2am fault finding visits to your on-site server room.

2. External Confidence

Co-locating your server and telecommunications equipment within a purpose built and expertly managed data centre delivers confidence to the range of stakeholders that are hugely important to your organisation. Depending on the services being delivered from your equipment these will include existing and potential customers, insurers, investors, employees, and the wider public.

External perception is key to the success of your business and so safeguarding the stability and efficiency of your technology and online presence by putting your technical foundations within a data centre will prove that you are doing things in the right way.  Once the move is made, make sure people know you have done it and make the most of the benefits that will follow.

3. Maintain Complete Control

Co-location is not the only IT outsourcing option available to businesses today.  You can go down the cloud computing route, take virtual servers, managed servers or go with a comprehensive managed service.  The difference with co-location is that it’s the only outsourcing model where you maintain absolute control over your critical IT systems – from the applications used through to network choice and the servers installed.

You have complete ownership of your assets and the co-location provider is not looking to replace your entire IT department.  With co-location you can choose the data centre yourself, actually touch your equipment and be comfortable with the data centre in which it’s hosted.  From a security point of view this can be invaluable, especially if you have to achieve particular security standards such as ISO27001 or PCI-DSS and care about where your data is actually being held.

4. Cost Savings

At first glance, outsourcing your data centre can appear a costly exercise, but in the long term there are real cost savings to be made in a range of areas

that you may not have already considered.  One immediate cost saving will be related to the time and cost of on-site technical resources that can be reduced straight away, if not completely removed.

Set monthly co-location costs, which generally include data centre support time, ensuring you have a grip on your monthly data centre expenditures from the outset.  You will also make substantial savings on your internet connectivity by hosting your telecommunications equipment on the backbone of the internet – in the same location as your network provider’s core equipment.

Further to this, hosting your server equipment within an on-site data centre usually carries costs that are almost impossible to calculate and in many cases not actually considered as a ‘data centre’ cost – such as very high power bills due to inefficient cooling technology and unmeasured energy losses.  Moving equipment to a co-location data centre immediately removes these costs, which are the responsibility of the data centre operator.

5. Power Redundancy

Installing on-site power redundancy can be extremely costly and so can the serious consequences of losing power to your servers.  Co-location data centres have all the power redundancy you need in place already, all you need to do is plug your servers in and they will be protected by state-of-the-art UPS infrastructure and diesel generator backup systems.  Some of these systems have enough backup capacity to power an entire village for a number of days should mains power be lost.

In addition to capacity needed to protect your power, a quality data centre provider will also deploy a backup system to the backup system.  This means that multiple failures can take place before your equipment is at risk of power loss.  This redundancy will also extend to data centre cooling systems, so if one or more air-conditioning units are lost then there will be standby backup units to ensure equipment remains at the optimum operating temperature

6. Maximum Security

Co-locating your server equipment within a high quality data centre brings huge physical security advantages.  Your equipment will be located within a shared environment – i.e. other organisations host within the same data centre too – but as physical security is one of the key considerations and investment areas for all data centre providers your equipment should be protected by 24/7 manned security guarding, extensive CCTV systems and tight access control procedures.  When visitors arrive at a data centre they generally need to present Photographic ID and in many cases enrol on advanced biometric systems, such as iris scanners, which then work to control and restrict access to authorised areas for each visitor.  All movement is audited, controlled and visually recorded.  In most cases this level of security is unthinkable within a private server room, and insurers will usually reward you with a lower premium.

7. Network Reliability & Choice

Datacentres are the very backbone of the world’s internet.  By locating your equipment within a data centre you are choosing to be where major networks originate from and come together.  Network providers choose to co-locate their own equipment for the very same reasons that other organisations do – for stability, security, performance and reliability.  Rather than being on an extended line into your office, co-location will offer you the immediate advantages that come from your servers being only feet away from a host of network operators – these being choice, cost savings, capacity, scalability and overall performance.

8. Integrated Support

On-site technical support teams at your chosen data centre should be included within your co-location contract – you’ll get a highly trained technical team on-site and available 24/7/365 working as an extension to your own support team.  Your own resources can be utilised elsewhere whilst the dedicated data centre support team are always there in case of any emergency.

Support services are a key deliverable for any data centre.  A good co-location data centre operator will see the value in providing excellent support levels to ensure clients stay for the long term.  No matter what time of day you contact the data centre there should always be a technician available to talk to and carry out work for you – with quicker response and at less cost than sending out your own technical resources.

9. Increased Performance

Whatever you are delivering from your server equipment, whether that be internal data, webpages, applications, downloads or databases, you will benefit from immediate performance increases.  Depending on the nature of your core services, performance can be measured in many ways – for example, by uptime statistics, speed of delivery, concurrent user capability, capacity or response times.  Co-location services within a high quality data centre will improve and maximise all of the above and minimise factors which would usually have an adverse effect on these performance indicators.  Your reputation will increase and your brand will grow stronger as a result.

10. Scalability and Room for Growth

Trying to plan your infrastructure for unknown levels of future growth within an in-house data centre is extremely difficult due to a range of physical limitations such as available power, cooling and network capacity.  Data centres are purpose built for scale and co–location facilities possess huge amounts of reserved power for their long term use from the national grid.  All infrastructure components will be future proofed to make the most of every ounce of power, cooling and other technical infrastructure that is available to you as your requirements increase.

11. Expert Management

Running an in house data centre can be a real task to manage and maintain effectively.  A specialist data centre will be managed by a team of experts with advanced monitoring tools alerting key individuals to any environmental or technical factors that may need attention.  Such monitoring and management processes identify problems before they occur enabling resolution before the event.  Monitoring to this level or standard is rarely in place within on-site data centres and you usually find out when something has gone wrong when your equipment is offline and things have already gone wrong.

Data centres take effective management and downtime mitigation extremely seriously due to the financial penalties then can suffer in the event of any outages.  Stringent SLAs guaranteeing the availability of services keep the co-location service operators working for you around the clock.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine