Here’s a simple way to explain “colocation”: Your equipment is housed in the colocation company’s highly secure location and monitored by their technical experts. The colocation company provides building security, as well as infrastructure like power, cooling and fire protection, and redundancy for these systems. Specialized equipment like servers needs dedicated care, which is exactly what a colocation company provides.
Why consider colocation? Because there are many benefits.
100% uptime is critical. The most important thing colocation providers do is ensure your equipment is continually connected to the broader world 24/7. Maintenance is frequent enough to keep everything running smoothly, and it’s structured so there is no downtime for you.
Speaking of 100% uptime, a key element to think about is redundancy. Colocation data centres offer N+1 redundancy. That is, components (N) have at least one level of redundancy. For example, there are backup generators in case of power failure.
Data centres draw lots of power, so it makes sense to build them in places with inexpensive green energy. For example, shopel’s Montreal colocation facilities use hydro energy. It’s a renewable, low-cost option. If your company emphasizes use of renewable power sources, putting your energy-intensive components in a place where green energy is standard makes a lot of sense.
Of course, your office building has fire protection. That’s a given. But it’s also true that servers require specialized fire protection. After all, they draw a lot of power, and they’re easily damaged by water.
A colocation centre will employ passive and active fire protection elements. For example, passive elements can include sensitive smoke detectors tuned to pick up on smouldering electrical components before they ignite. Walls divide up the space to prevent fire from spreading. Active elements can include a sprinkler system or other fire suppression systems.
Servers and people don’t make for great officemates when it comes to the thermostat. With servers and other networking equipment, the temperature needs to be cool and controlled.
Colocation providers monitor the temperature at multiple points and deploy powerful air conditioning to keep components within their optimal range. Of course, it’s helpful to put colocation data centres in places like Canada, where a naturally cool climate does some of the heavy lifting.
Colocation providers also monitor humidity. Those in areas of high humidity will keep air below the dew point to avoid condensation. In areas of low humidity, they’ll use a humidification system to prevent static electricity discharges.
Servers hold a company’s most sensitive and vital data, so security should reflect that.
Colocation providers take a multi-layer security approach. They may deploy CCTV cameras, use biometric identification for access, and have cages to cordon off different tenants’ equipment. Of course, it’s also helpful that few people need to be onsite, thus reducing the chance of a security breach.
If your company owns its servers, networking equipment, and storage, it can be tempting to host everything on site. However, offices are first and foremost designed to meet the needs of people. Servers and other complex equipment require space and have their own needs, which are specialized and technical. That’s why colocation services make sense.
Sunday, September 9, 2012