(The Hosting News) – In the web hosting world, however, colocation (also commonly referred to as colo) refers to the practice of locating your own information technology infrastructure – servers, storage, networking gear, and more – into a data center. While many hosting providers lease or resell server space that someone else owns, colocation arrangements are a bit more rudimentary. They supply the internet exchange, network access, security, power, air conditioning, and basic onsite monitoring and support and your organization would supply the server hardware, network switches and other components required to connect your overall system together, and then the operating systems and application/web software required to operate your solution.
If you are seriously considering a move to a colo arrangement, it is best to first get references of others who have made the shift with environments of similar complexity. Does the hosting provider respond effectively in the case of an emergency? In the event of power or network failures, have their redundant/failover measures kicked in and performed? Once you have narrowed to a handful, depending on how critical this move is to your business, many opt to perform a site visit at the facility to verify in person that the security and disaster recovery measures are what are claimed in marketing and sales materials. It is also good to put a face with a name by meeting your admins or hosting management team in person.
There are some obvious advantages and potential disadvantages to colocation. For a small to medium-sized business, the primary advantage is that a professional colocation facility will have far more infrastructure in terms of redundant power supplies and network feeds, fire protection, security (today, often in the form of biometric protection), building design that protects your environment physically from that of other companies, heating/cooling to keep the server rooms at a constant air temperature and humidity, and 24/7/365 monitoring. Obviously, high-end setups that encompass all of those things are outside of the reach of most businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees (and even out of the rich of many businesses with far more than that!) So, opting to set up a colo hosting arrangement can provide your business with a world-class hosting environment at a fraction of what it would cost you to build that out. One primary disadvantage, of course, is that now all of your server gear and applications will be stored at a remote facility – perhaps even across the country or world – and you will be at the mercy of the hosting provider in the event where you actually physically need onside support to do things like swap out memory, hard drives, check power supplies, and that sort of thing. This is an adjustment for many businesses and would that should be factored into your decision-making process. With the quality of remote connection software, the vast majority of operations that need to be performed can be done successfully from virtually anywhere but it is still a consideration to be made. When you have thoroughly weighed the pros/cons, done site visits, and verified the reputation and quality of your colocation provider and are convinced it is the best option for your business, it is then that you will be ready for colocation.