By Zachary R. McClung
Ah yes, its time to make that leap into the colocation market. You have hundreds even thousands of datacenters that are saying â€œPick Me, Pick Me.â€ No worries. This is a decision you can make on your own. Below is a list of questions you should always consider:
1. Location. Is this going to be convenient for me?
2. Network. What type of clients do I have? What are my needs?
3. Bandwidth. Are these the carriers I really want?
4. Space. Will I be able to expand?
5. Remote Hands. Are they that smart?
Depending on the type of server or application depends on how important the location is. Typically servers housing normal parts and that maintain a simple setup can be housed anywhere in the world without worrying about rush maintenance or the need for yourself or staff to be local; however, in the instance you have a special developed application or a game server, you will want to locate the server where it is easily accessible to your administration team or where it is closest to your client base.
Yes, if the network is down there is no reason for having a server. The overall network that your server box is connected to is a key. As we all know, if the network is down visitors are unable to get to your expensive piece of equipment. As far as one hundred percent uptime, colocation services go Liquid Web, Inc. (Lansing, MI), Stead Fast Networks (Chicago, IL), and Atlanta Nap (Atlanta, GA) would be definitely on my list of top networks.
After your traffic leaves the redundant network of your colocation faculty it must then travel down the pipes to the uplink providers. Some of the most well known are: Level 3, Savvis, Cogent, Quest, and XO Communications. These uplink providers you choose depend on how quickly your information gets from one location to another. As everyone knows, if you are running a game server or streaming application Internap of Zima are the only ways to go. They come pre bundles and have some of the lowest latency times available in the United States and the world.
Make sure to do research on bandwidth providers in the datacenter location you are looking at. This is key depending on who your customers are. For example, if you live in a Comcast Communications area such as I do in Grand Rapids, Michigan the only quick way to your users is to go AT&T. Yet, if you live in the southeast region there is a good change going with some Sprint might be a great way to go. Research geographical area of your clients and the bandwidth providers most utilize. It will provide you the quickest access to your information.
If you do not plan on needing more space or growing then you should not be in business. Every group, person, or business is doing something for growth, expanding, reaching more customers, or making more money. There is no ifs ands or buts about it. Yes, you could say youâ€™re not in the business to grow; however, even if it is a hobby most likely it will grow. And, at that point, you will need more space for server number two. Good thing you thought about the space issues before this dilemma came up.
Many good datacenters are running out of room for new signs ups. Some datacenters that come to mind are The Planet, Equinix, and FDC Servers. These are all wonderful datacenters in their respected area with all either having issues with space, electricity, or some sort of space problem. In many cases, if you purchase a rack they will leave one open right along side of you for when you grow; however, with having only one server you are typically not that lucky.
Make sure to ask if the datacenter is going to leave space open for existing customers and make sure you are taken care of. Will they leave an extra 1u or 2u open for growth or do you need to purchase it now? Depending on their reaction you will understand more how the datacenter feels about their current customers and growth. If it was a good answer and your guaranteed room to grow then sign the contract.
The last issue is the remote hands and management options you have available. If you are not in a location when you or your techs can fix a problem then you need to research into the remote hands issue. More datacenters are going to the approach that if it is simple and it takes less than five to twenty minutes then they will not charge you. You need to check to see if the staff is competent in your field and will make the easiest time possible for you when a problem arises.
The remote hands area is where many entering the colocation market for the first time forget to ask about. And, another quick reminder is finding out whether they normally stock parts for the unit you are using. If so, any hardware failures should be a quick fix. If not, send some spares.
As you can see, location, network, bandwidth, space, and remote hands are all important aspects when it comes to colocation. Just remember, do your research and ask the questions now and it will save yourself from all the needless headaches.
Zachary R. McClung is a feature writer for TheHostingNews.com and owner of Biz Hosting Network, LLC