The Colocation Advantage

Written by Phil Alsop, Editor, DCS Europe Published 2022-05-31 08:36:07

More and more organisations are moving more and more of their IT infrastructure off-premises. The cloud and managed services are the headline destinations for much of these IT assets. However, colocation is an increasingly popular choice for those many companies who see the benefits of outsourcing, but are still nervous of, as they see it, handing over all control to a cloud/managed services provider. 

Colocation offers significant cost, technology and management benefits for the vast majority of organisations when compared to an on-premise data centre. Importantly, it also seems to provide a level of security which seems to be out of reach in the cloud, judging by the stories which do, or don’t, appear in the news. By this I mean that colocation companies don’t seem to appear in the headlines for the ‘wrong reasons’ with anywhere near the frequency of the cloud provider community. Coincidence maybe, but more likely this contrast speaks volumes as to where security peace of mind is more likely to be found.

And where security can be found, so many other benefits follow.



Looked into the cost of building your own data centre recently, or extending your current facility? There’s the building design and construction, as well as the mechanical and electrical infrastructure installation to be paid for – ouch! Not to mention the ongoing running costs. And what about the price of power – OUCH! And any idea what size of data centre you need, both now and in the future? After all, you don’t want to pay for a large amount of empty space, just in case you need it.

The idea of accessing an already built colocation data centre, with levels of connectivity you can only dream about, with just the right amount of space for your activities today, but with space to expand as and when you need it, and with power available at a pre-purchased price which can cushion the current energy crisis, at least for a while – all seems rather attractive and considerably less expensive than going it alone?



Okay, if you build/expand your own data centre, it will have the very latest technology deployed inside – efficient power and cooling, for example. But will you have the time or budget to ensure that your data centre infrastructure is regularly refreshed and upgraded over time? And do you have the necessary in-house skills to maintain and improve your data centre environment as and when your IT workloads change – which they will in today’s dynamic business world? Indeed, can you even afford to employ these required skills? And what about things such as liquid cooling, waste heat recovery, power purchase agreements and more general sustainability imperatives – who is going to get up to speed on the latest technology and business developments and decide what needs to be done to keep your customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders happy?

Colocation data centre providers can do all this for you. And, what’s more, as they are doing it for multiple customers, there’s going to be a huge economy of scale, from which you will benefit. For example, if you purchase a new UPS system, you pay for all of it. If a data centre provider purchases the same UPS system, the cost will be shared by all of their customers. But not by means of a one-off bill. No, the monthly fee you pay the provider includes regular infrastructure upgrades.

And then there’s the difference between what we might call the day to day data centre requirement – the infrastructure required to support your company’s usual activities – and the increasingly likely bursts of IT activity required to support new projects – the dynamic environment. Imagine your existing on-prem data centre is pretty much at capacity, but there’s the demand for a new customer-focused data analytics project. Do you build out the extra capacity required, at considerable cost, against a somewhat uncertain financial return? And what do you do with this extra infrastructure once the project is complete?

Contrast this with a simple call to your data centre provider – we need some extra space to support a couple of new dedicated servers for a data analytics project we’re set to run. Their response? We can make that available for you by tomorrow, or early next week. Somewhat quicker and less expensive than the time and money required to build out the resource yourself! Indeed, using a colocation provider could well mean the difference between a project happening or not.



As yet(!), data centres don’t run themselves. They are complex, dynamic IT environments which require a great deal of care. Such care can be expensive to provide. Not only do you have to employ the necessary highly skilled individuals to run your data centre, but you’ll also need to invest in various monitoring and management resources, which help to ensure that your facility is operating at somewhere near optimal conditions, 24x7x365. And you’ll need to manage who has access to the data centre. And you’ll need to provide a detailed audit trail of almost every data centre activity. Hopefully, this will only be needed to show how well run is your data centre; but, if something does go wrong, then if you can’t prove that you did everything you reasonably could to avoid a downtime incident, for example, there could be serious consequences for your business reputation and in terms of a potential fine.

Or, you could just concentrate on running what you do best – your business - allowing your provider to do what they do best – running the data centre. 

Still not convinced to abandon your on-premises data centre?

Consider this: while the cloud and managed services providers do build, own and operate their own data centre facilities, they also take large amounts of space in colocation facilities right across the globe - precisely for many of the reasons I have outlined above: speed of access, flexibility, agility, scalability and cost. And if they are good enough for the IT experts, it’s a safe bet that they will provide your business with the same advantages.

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