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What Is Colocation And How Can Your Business Benefit From It?

In today's fast-paced, highly competitive environment, your small business needs all the advantages it can get, especially when it comes to securing the bandwidth to handle all of your data requirements. That means looking outside of the box when it comes to hosting and managing your data. Hiring the services of a colocation facility is one such way of dealing with ever-changing technical needs.

Okay, So What Is Colocation?

Large enterprises can afford to host their own servers in their own data centers using their own IT teams. If you own a small business, on the other hand, you might not have the space or personnel to run your own show. This could be an issue if your company needs fast, dedicated network access with plenty of bandwidth.

Colocation offers a reasonable compromise for small businesses that want to maintain their private infrastructure, but lack the facilities or the manpower to make that happen. Instead of building your own infrastructure from scratch or relying on a traditional host's server and storage machines, you can prep your own machines to your specifications and have them installed at a colocation data center.

While your company provides the servers and storage, the colocation facility provides practically everything else. That includes the energy needed to power your equipment, environmental controls needed to keep things cool and dry, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) backup systems, bandwidth and technical services for maintenance and monitoring. You also get around-the-clock physical security that protects your equipment.

Why Choose Colocation Over Your Own Data Center?

There are plenty of reasons why colocation is the better step for small business networking:

  • The infrastructure is already in place – Consider the costs of building your own data center from the ground up (and the day-to-day maintenance) vs. moving your equipment into a preexisting data center managed by your colocation provider.
  • Colocation facilities offer better outage protection – If your company's way of dealing with unexpected power outages involves a generator or two and a smattering of UPS modules, then you'll definitely benefit from a colocation facility's vast array of outage strategies. Most colocation facilities feature multiple redundant power supplies and UPS backup systems for data protection and preservation during power outages.
  • You get more bandwidth for your budget – Colocation facilities offer cheaper bandwidth when compared to other hosting solutions. Many companies offer "95th percentile" bandwidth, where the only speed limitations come from the port, allowing for short bursts of bandwidth at very fast speeds. In most cases, you're only charged for the bandwidth you actually use.
  • You get more control over your equipment – Unlike managed hosting, you can use your own equipment, set it up to your specifications and operate it how you please, without prior approval in most cases. You have complete control of your servers and their setup.

Are There Any Downsides?

Although there are relatively few downsides to colocation, those that do exist can be deal-breakers for some small businesses. For instance, most colocation facilities are concentrated around large cities with major network hubs, making convenient access difficult for businesses based in smaller cities. This has the potential to be a major issue for customers who need more frequent contact with their equipment, unless a maintenance agreement with the colocation facility is put into place.

Colocation bandwidth pricing also fluctuates depending on a variety of factors, including current demand and the charging methods used by the facility. As a result, it's easy to be locked into a higher rate by a long-term service level agreement (SLA). Ideally, colocation SLAs should be reviewed and renegotiated on a regular basis, as doing so makes your company more responsive to economic and technological challenges.

Colocation offers a robust and responsive way for your small business to meet its data management needs, especially in a challenging and ever-changing networking environment. For more information, visit a website like