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Your office was designed for humans. That's great news for your coworkers, bad news for your office plants and terrible news for your business-critical IT systems.
It is possible to retrofit your office to provide a better hosting environment for your servers, but that's very expensive. Luckily, there's a better option, called colocation – or colo for short.
Rather than spend a fortune creating the perfect environment at your office, you just rent the space you need in a proper data centre.
Colo gives you…
More Reliable Power Supplies – The server room in your office is likely to have a single power feed from a single substation. Data centres have dual power feeds, from different electricity substations. They have UPS (uninterruptible power supply) units to temporarily power everything in the event of a power cut. They have on-site backup generators, ready to kick in rapidly, so power can be restored rapidly before the UPS units run out of power.
Better Connectivity – If you want to upgrade the connectivity at your office from 10Mbps to 100Mbps, or from 100Mb to 200Mb, you'll have to pay a lot extra, and you'll have to wait months. Data centres are subject to different rules. Lots of network operators are already in the building, so there is a plentiful supply of bandwidth, it's comparatively cheap and it's provisioned rapidly. You're also in the right place to get a low-latency connection to your wide area network, so servers hosted can quickly respond to requests from any of the sites on your WAN.
Better Physical Security & Access Control – We're talking 24x7 monitoring, intruder detection systems, extensive CCTV coverage and strict access control procedures. Many data centres even have biometric scanners for identity verification, and mantraps to prevent tailgating.
Better Air Conditioning – Your office's air conditioning systems were designed for humans, who don't generate much heat. Data centres are different. They have industrial-strength air conditioning, designed to keep servers within their ideal operating temperatures throughout the year, and to ensure the right level of humidity.
Raised Floors – Data centres have an artificial floor suspended above the real floor. This provides room for network cabling, air conditioning ducts, power cabling. It also reduces the risk of flooding.
Better Fire Suppression Systems – Sophisticated fire-detection systems – more detectors, earlier detection of smoke/fire compared to traditional office systems. Server-friendly fire suppression – Some data centres use inert gas to suppress the initial fire, most have 'dry pipe' sprinkler system that minimise the risk of accidental water leaks damaging servers.
Savings from IT Consolidation – Organisations with multiple sites can often save money by replacing a legacy assortment of local servers & appliances with a far smaller number of devices hosted centrally. This allows a single email server, PBX, SAN, or web-filtering device to serve multiple sites – simplifying IT management, cutting licencing costs and improving hardware utilisation. The remaining servers and appliances could be hosted at head office. However, it's a far better idea to host them somewhere that has reliable power and better connectivity. That's where colo comes in.
Business Continuity Benefits – Downtime is expensive. Extended downtime can be ruinous. Colocation helps insulate your servers against power cuts, fire, flooding, theft and connectivity problems.
Cheap Internet Connectivity – There's no better place to buy Internet access than in a data centre. That's where Internet access is cheapest, and bandwidth upgrades are quickest. It's also where most 'colocation' occurs in real life. Colocation is perfect for hardware devices that send a lot of traffic to or from the Internet (web-servers, VPN devices, web-filtering devices and virtual desktop servers). Colo is also great for shared IT resources - such as email servers and IP PBXs - that need to be responsive to employees located in multiple offices.
Minimal Commitment Required –You can rent as little as 1U of colocation space - just enough for a small server. You don't have to pay for any more colocation space than you need.