A Colocation is a hosting service where clients house their servers and other devices in a professional data center or a colocation facility. Housing servers on a data center means that clients pay for the space or the rack where the server and other devices are installed as well as pay for the power, cooling system, the bandwidth and the security which the data center provides. These data centers could house not just a single client but could house multiple numbers of clients. It is often likened to an apartment complex with multiple number of tenants being housed in rooms and are provided with power, water and perhaps, cooling and security by the owner. These tenants pay not just the space they use but including the amount of utilities that are provided them by the owner
For typical colocation services, the client owns the server, the server software as well as all the other devices that the client installs on the leased space or rack in the colocation facility. On the other hand, the data center, aside from providing the rack space, provides the power required to run the server, the cooling system, the security and the fire suppression system and the bandwidth. Most colos (short for colocation) do not concern themselves with server management tasks but opts to leave the server operation and management to the client. However, some colos offer Managed Colocation, where the data center also takes care of the server management tasks.
What services are included in a colocation data center?
Aside from leasing the rack, the rack space and the cages to their clients, typical colocation facilities and services include the following:
- Redundant power supply and power outlet installation, ensuring an uninterruptible power supply for the server;
- An efficient cooling system and particle filtration system which helps ensure optimum server life and performance;
- Top-of-the-line specialized fire suppression and fire fighting system. Data centers need special fire fighting equipment as typical water-based fire fighting systems could severely damage the servers and other devices installed in the facility;
- 24-hour monitoring and physical security which includes card entry system and CCTV monitoring system. Security also includes cabinet and cage locks making it inaccessible to other colocation clients.
How should I know I need colocation?
There are as many reasons why people need colocation as there are as many servers inside the colocation facility. These reasons could vary greatly and could range from the most simple to the most complex. However, let us try to discuss the most common reasons why people need colocation. You will know that you need colocation when you start to find these same reasons in your present hosting service:
- When your office or the data center where your servers and other devices are housed and installed has become outdated and so dilapidated and is in need of a major renovation work but you do not have enough funds for the necessary work to be done;
- When you have outgrown the office or your present data center and you need more elbow room to expand your services but there is not enough funds for constructing or expanding the facility;
- You have just started your new company and is in need of a space to place your servers but you are not yet ready to make the investment of building your own data center;
- When the facilities of your present data center such as the bandwidth, the cooling and the power are in need of major overhaul and upgrade but you do not have the funds for it; and
- When you want to place your brand new servers and devices into a data center that is well-equipped and better protected because you want the best for your company.
How does colocation work?
This is how colocation works; first, you lease a space, the rack, cage or room and the physical facilities of a colocation company and then install your server in it. The server could be your own or could also be rented from the colocation provider. Once it is installed, the colocation provider provides your server the bandwidth, IP, power, cooling, and security. As soon as it is up and running, the facility keeps a hands-off policy on it and leaves the server management tasks to you. You get to access your server like you access it from any other provider, the difference being that you owned the hardware and the software and that you get to manage your server yourself.