6 Benefits of Colocation Services for Modern Businesses
Speed is an advantage in business.
The faster you can act, the more agile you can be, the better. This is particularly true for your network and data, which is what makes colocation services such a powerful business tool.
You could handle all your data hosting on-premises. However, there are significant financial, time, and human investments required to make this happen. On the other hand, colocation allows you to outsource the physical aspects of your data hosting to experienced professionals while retaining access and having peace of mind you’re in capable hands.
In this article, we’re going to cover many of the benefits of colocation services for businesses. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it represents the benefits of colocation that can be most transformative for your company regardless of your size or industry.
6 Benefits of Colocation Services to Solidify Your Network Infrastructure
Before we get into the benefits of colocation services, let’s define colocation and identify how it differs from on-premises hosting.
Colocation is when you rent space for your servers and other network hardware at a data center run by a third party like Atlantech Online. Colocation costs typically include:
- The physical space for your servers and other hardware
- Networking services
- Physical security protocols at the data center
- Redundant power to prevent downtime
- Redundant cooling measures to ensure optimal operations
- Professionals to provide the above services, safeguards, and operations
On the other hand, on-premises hosting is just like it sounds. Your servers and all network and computing hardware are physically on your company property. Your IT team and building management teams are responsible for everything a data center staff would be, including security and redundant power.
On-premises hosting has been the go-to solution for many companies for a long time. However, the costs associated with hiring and training staff, security, and other risk mitigation efforts, along with the increase in legitimacy of colocation providers, are forcing companies to look at what's in their best interest for the long term.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the benefits of using colocation services for your company.
1. Redundancy and Continuity
As we mentioned above, colocation services include the safeguards and protocols for redundancy and continuity. For example:
- If a power source fails, there are backup power sources that kick on to keep your website, internal network, or anything else residing on your colocated servers up and running.
- If there is a critical issue, data center staff are on-site 24/7 to deal with something that needs immediate attention.
Data centers are built to withstand extreme weather events. Most facilities also have multiple power generators and cooling systems. Some data centers may even have separate power grids in the event of a local power outage.
Redundancy, continuity, and uptime are premium selling points for colocation providers. If you look at their websites, you’ll see them featured prominently as a reason to choose their services. Like insurance, you pay for redundancy and continuity measures hoping you never have to use them...but if you do, you have the peace of mind knowing you're paying for them.
On the flip side, building your own redundancy and continuity measures for an on-premises hosting situation can be quite expensive.
- The right access to local utilities
- Availability of suitable networking solutions
- Infrastructure like power grids, generators, and mechanical systems
- A skilled labor pool in your local area to hire from
- Scheduling someone to be on-site or be on call 24/7
- Possible construction costs to enhance structural stability and resilience to extreme weather conditions
It’s a trade-off between not having your servers on-site but having peace of mind that your redundancy and continuity needs are met versus having servers on-site but trying to build out this type of infrastructure yourself.
Another huge benefit of colocation services is scalability, or how easy it is to increase or decrease server and service needs over time.
With colocation, the staff at the data center continually monitors power and connectivity to your server environment. In most cases, they’ll reach out to you proactively if power or networks usage increases to levels that require scaling up your services.
Or, if your company needs to hire numerous employees because of a new contract, you can get more space in the data center and stack 'em, pack 'em and rack 'em.
You can also add new services to meet new compliance standards or meet the specific needs of new or growing teams within your organization. Customization to your specific needs is a huge selling point of colocation services.
With on-premises hosting, once your server space is spoken for, in addition to purchasing another server or other storage equipment, you'll need to account for accommodating additional power and also cooling. Depending on what you need, this could be a sizable expense.
And if you need to add a new service in response to internal requests or industry regulations? That’s up to your IT team to train up the necessary staff or make a hire who has expertise in what needs to be done.
3. Security and Compliance
Data security, risk mitigation, and compliance are essentials for modern businesses. Not only do you want to abide by ethical standards for protecting customer, employee, and business data, but you also don’t want to risk fines or regulatory consequences.
Data centers implement advanced security protocols and technology well above the capabilities most individual businesses can implement themselves. They are hardened facilities with security checkpoints, biometric scanners, and restricted access to vital data infrastructure.
Data centers also have controls and policies in place to meet numerous compliance standards for different forms and types of data, such as:
- SSAE 16
- ISO 27001
- PCI DSS
Self-hosting on-site means taking on security and compliance alone. This is cost-prohibitive, and most likely cannot be taken on all at once. For example, while you may be able to afford to implement a few of the security protocols, you leave yourself at risk for those you can’t implement right away.
And if you don’t have the necessary physical and logistical security in place, you won’t be able to pass accreditations, certifications, or audits you need for compliance.
4. 24/7 On-Premises Support
Colocation also provides the benefit of 24/7 on-premises support. There is always a certified professional ready to step in and help.
Data, network, and other IT issues don’t always happen during normal working hours. Plus, clients and prospects may be logging in or checking out your website or other server resources in the evening. This is why it’s crucial to have dedicated, professional staff standing by in case of an emergency.
Just like redundancy and continuity measures, 24/7 support is something you hope you never need, but feel better knowing it’s there.
In an on-premises hosting situation, you have two options:
- Physically staff your building 24/7, which means hiring and training more people.
- Provide the technology for your staff to be on call from home and access your IT infrastructure remotely (which can bring security issues into play).
5. Cost Savings
When it comes to cost as a benefit, it really is a simple math question. Paying for colocation services offers you everything we’ve covered to this point:
- Infrastructure and protocols for redundancy and service continuity
- The ability scale quickly when needed
- Physical and technological security
- Controls and processes for meeting numerous data compliance standards
- 24/7 on-premises support ready to help
Additionally, your IT team has part of their burden shifted to the professionals with your colocation provider. This frees up more time and resources to work on organizational initiatives and projects.
Taking on the task of managing your data and network internally means absorbing the costs to implement the above items yourself. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and can distract from day-to-day operations.
All of the above aren’t just benefits of colocation services. You can also use them as selling points in sales conversations with prospects or on your website or marketing materials.
People want to know your services will be available when they need them and that their data is secure. Using your relationship with a professional colocation provider shows data management and security are a priority. Your prospects can even lookup the data center themselves if they want more assurance. Essentially, using colocation services is verification you have your clients’ best interests in mind.
Additionally, the annual accreditation, certifications, and audits data centers go through are a further selling point that your company is taking all precautions.
If you self-host on-site, you don’t get the same marketability boost unless you’ve taken on the costs of:
- Building out redundancy and continuity safeguards.
- Purchasing all needed servers, networking, and computer equipment.
- Installing security processes and passing accreditations, certifications, and audits.
- Staffing your department with enough professionals to offer 24/7 support.
- Hiring and training up your IT department to be able to perform all necessary functions.
If not, you’re asking clients and prospects to trust you have it all taken care of. There’s no third-party verification or legitimacy you can use to ensure they feel taken care of.
Bonus "Benefit:" Local Colocation Services
Local colocation increases peace of mind because you can visit your data center if you need to. If you’re in the Washington D.C. metro area, you don’t have to look far for your colocation services.
Atlantech Online has data centers in Silver Spring and Rockville. Each boasts high-end routing equipment and servers with local and remote backup locations, tons of cooling capacity, and a connection to multi-substation power grids.