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      Choosing a Colocation Provider: Criteria and Questions to Find the Best Fit


      Whether you are new to colocation or have been colocating for years, it is exciting and stressful to choose your next provider. A colocation provider is not just another vendor in your business solution, but rather a strategic partner for your business’ critical infrastructure needs. The right colocation providers can take your data center footprint and network to the next level, while the wrong provider can prevent you from reaching your full potential, and worse yet, negatively impact application availability and performance

      To make the best-fit choice for your company, you’ll have to know your needs and goals and be able properly evaluate potential partners. Unsure of where to start? Read on for considerations and questions to get you on the right track.     

      Outline Criteria for Your Colocation Provider Search

      When choosing a colocation provider, it is important to reflect on your needs prior to starting your search. Be sure to include the following considerations in your decision making:

      Strategic Goals

      Am I looking for a strategic colocation partner to help me power, connect and cool equipment for my critical business process/revenue generator, project in development or anything in between? This is important to understanding the next decision point.

      Uptime

      Uptime is always important in your colocation decision. Is this a test system I don’t really care about, or a revenue generator that will lose revenue during downtime? With any revenue generating system it is important to determine your downtime costs per second, minute, hour, day and so on. This is where your strategic colocation partnership is so important.

      Is your colocation facility ready to provide you with unmatched uptime, support and advice to help you succeed? Have they even asked about your availability requirements? What are the provider’s SLAs and will they help you recoup financially in case of an outage caused by your colocation partner?

      Growth Potential

      Can your colocation partner accommodate your planned or unplanned growth in a timely manner? Nothing is worse than deploying a new application not expecting huge growth and realizing your colocation partner cannot accommodate your growth needs. This is what some call a “good problem to have,” but it’s still a problem. If you’re not able to quickly access more power, cooling and space, you can find yourself with a very dissatisfied consumer on the other end.

      Know Your Market

      Market/location is very important. Pricing could be great for power and cooling, but you may find yourself in a market with subpar interconnectivity, lack of diversity in connectivity providers or third parties and vendors in your vertical. Now your savings in cooling and power disappear with complicated connectivity solutions.

      Geographic market locations are also very important to your user base. Low latency connectivity from your end user to your product is one of the best ways to deliver a good application experience. Thus, choosing a colocation provider that can offer you not just power, cooling and space and low latency and great connectivity options is huge plus.

      Flexibility in Colo Design

      Flexibility in terms of colocation design for your specific solution is very important. Your solution may require caged environments with multiple security measures including cameras, bio-metric locks, privacy screening, slab-to-slap cage walls, toppers and a plethora of other power/cooling and cabling options to meet your exact needs. This is where the right colocation partner matters.

      Security Requirements

      Security that meets your requirements is a decision point which should be at the top of your list. Is your colocation partner PCI and SOC2 compliant? What other compliances will you need your partner to meet? What certifications does your colocation partner maintain on a regular basis?

      Cloud Options & Spend Portability

      Some of your application stack is likely already in the cloud or would benefit from running in a cloud, on bare metal or in a fully managed private cloud. Does your colocation provider also offer bare metal, cloud and connectivity to cloud providers? And if you choose to shift to one of these solutions from your current colocation solution, does your provider offer a spend portability program? The ability to cost-effectively pivot to a different solution to best meet shifting infrastructure needs is invaluable.

      Ask the Right Questions to Evaluate Potential Colocation Providers

       Now that you’ve thought more about your needs, you can more easily assess colocation providers to find one that meets your specific criteria. Based on the decision points discussed above, let’s talk through specific questions that should be considered when evaluating a potential colocation partnership.

      • What design is the colocation partner using for their power, cooling and space?
        • N+1, N+1 with concurrent maintainability, N+2?
        • What design is right for your solution?
        • Is the colocation partner keeping mechanical equipment on the datacenter floor or away from the floor?I have some stories about this one, but that’s for another blog.
        • How much uptime protection do you need? (Keeping in mind that all those pluses carry additional costs.)
      • What is your market/location?
        • Where is your customer geographically?
        • What markets does your colocation partner cover?
      • What power does your equipment require?
        • What amount of power do you need per cabinet? This will depend on your equipment, so knowing ahead of time what you will put in your cabinet is important. You may want to populate a cabinet with networking gear which doesn’t require much power, so the maximum you will need is 2KW to 10KW. Or you may use many blade chassis with huge power requirements and 20KW to 30KW per cab. If your colocation partner cannot deliver high-density power to your cabinets, now you are expanding your colocation footprint sideways rather than vertically and not utilizing all your available rack space.
      • What connectivity providers are available at the colocation space?
      • What internet service providers (ISPs) are available in the data center’s meet me room?
      • Does your colocation partner offer you a redundant IP blend?
      • Is your colocation partner able to directly connect you to public clouds?
      • Does your colocation partner also offer native bare metal or cloud services?
      • What security measures are taken by your colocation partner to make sure that only you will gain access to your cabinets and services?
      • Does your colocation partner offer you a comfortable, quiet place to focus, meet and get work done while at the datacenter?

      What Sets INAP Colocation Apart?

      INAP is not a cookie-cutter colocation partner. We’re extremely flexible with colocation design, effectively meeting the requirements of our customers no matter how simple or complex. And with INAP Interchange, our spend portability program, you can get the solution flexibility that you need after you deploy your initial solution. This allows you access to INAP Colo, Bare Metal and Cloud solutions to best meet your needs throughout INAP’s 47 Tier-3 data centers, including our flagship facilities in well-connected markets, along with 90 POPs around world.

      INAP’s ability to deliver a level of service with N+1 and Concurrent Maintainability for power and cooling provides you with peace of mind that even during maintenance, your critical infrastructure is backed by redundant systems. Paired with state of the art, zoned fire suppression systems with VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detector Apparatus), you can rest assured that your infrastructure is in good hands. Additionally, high-density power is INAP’s specialty, with efficiency that meets LEED Platinum levels. And you’ll find our security systems meet PCI and SOC2 compliance.

      Finally, what really sets INAP apart (other than what’s been covered above) is that all INAP facilities are staffed with tenured data center engineers and management staff ready to work directly with customers to help them succeed.

      Explore INAP Colocation.

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      Rob Lerner


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      Colocation Pricing Guide: Power, Space and Key Questions to Ask Your Provider


      Migration of infrastructure to colocation facilities will continue full force for the next few years, according to a survey put out to 500 IT professionals. Why? Because most on-prem data centers can’t compare to Tier 3-design facilities. The best colocation data centers offer high uptime, power efficiency and redundancy, as well as improve the physical security of infrastructure. With an enterprise colocation solution, companies also have access to greater networking capabilities and public cloud and/or other multi-platform solutions. This flexibility future-proofs your infrastructure for whatever needs may arise over time.

      Considering colocation as part of your infrastructure mix? Here’s our colo pricing guide to help you understand power, space and the key questions to ask your provider to decide the best fit for your company.

      What You Need to Know About Colocation Pricing

      Below, you’ll find the common types of billing for power, the spacing options you can choose from and two examples of how power and space are billed together.

      Start with Your Power Needs

      There are four standard ways to bill for power. When you’re working with your colocation provider, ensure they’re gathering your current and future power needs to appropriately size the power circuits. With that information in hand, they should work to offer you the best deal and least costly solution.

      There are four billing types for power:

      1. Per Circuit (Flat Rate) Power Billing

      The bill is a flat monthly fee per circuit provisioned for your solution and is the most common colo pricing structure. With this model, you have price predictability. You’ll pay the same amount whether you use five percent or 80 percent of your capacity. But be warned, there is no ability to burst above 80% of the delivered power without adding additional circuits.

      2. Power Capacity kW (Allocated kW) Billing

      In this model, you make a commitment to use a fixed amount of power (i.e.: 100kW), regardless of the electrical capacity of the circuits installed. Typically, you’ll see savings over flat rate model; however, the penalties for bursting above your committed rate can be quite steep.

      3. Metered Power (Usage Based) Billing

      Your bill will vary in this model. The monthly fee is based on actual usage and is determined on the present rate per kilowatt hour. Colocation providers typically only offer this pricing model on very large deployments and customers will still have to pay for space.

      4. All In Space & Power

      This is a simple calculation of the amount of space and power presented in a per kW number. It’s a very easy way for customers to compare pricing (assuming space and power delivered is equal). A con to this solution is that both the space and power are tied to a single rate per kW so there is a loss of flexibility.  If you ever need to upgrade just the power, you’ll end up paying more for the same amount of space.

      Explore Colocation Space Options

      Colo space is typically sold by:

      Cabinet: A single lockable cabinet on the data center floor. You can purchase contiguous cabinets if they are available in your chosen data center.

      Cage or Private Suite: An enclosed, lockable, segmented cage on the data center floor that provides superior flexibility and control without the capital investments that come with building and maintaining an enterprise-grade facility. A minimum of 5 racks/cabs is standard for cage deployments, assigned at 24 square feet per rack. Private data center suites, on the hand, are built to suit (complete with separate security access points) and are used typically for larger, wholesale colo deployments.

      Remember though, for some colocation pricing models, your bill may not have anything to do with square footage or rack usage. While cabinets or square feet are still required in order to allocate an area within the data center, the price is attached to the power that is being allocated for your use.

      Common Types of Colo Pricing Solutions

      Now that we understand the options for space and power billing, let’s explore how both aspects come together with two examples of popular billing models, relative to the deployment size. Work with your colocation provider to determine your best-fit solution.

      Cabinets with flat rate circuits

      For smaller deployments, typically one to four cabinets, colocation providers will deliver lockable cabinets, each with primary and redundant (optional) power feeds. A single power feed can deliver anywhere from 2kw – 17kw depending on the colocation provider’s power capacity and cooling capabilities. Your bill would consist of line items for the cabinet(s) and circuits delivered.

      Space/kw with Usage-based Power Pricing

      This solution is for larger deployments (100kw+), as providers will typically have minimums for this solution. You’ll be billed based on the number of square feet and a variable monthly fee based on actual power usage. This monthly fee is based on a preset dollar rate per kilowatt hour. Regardless of term, installs should be charged in this model.

      Typically, there is not much of a margin built into usage-based power. You should also expect install fees when adding more circuits.

      Beyond the Price Tag: What Can the Colocation Data Center You Choose Do for You?

      When you decide to move your infrastructure off-prem, there are many other economic and performance-based factors beyond the list price for space and power; however, they are just as important to consider and can even make or break your infrastructure strategy.

      Consider the following questions:

      1. Does the colo facility have Tier 3-attributes?

      To be a Tier 3-attribute data center, the facility must maintain N+1 fault tolerance, 72-hour protection from power outages and 99.982 percent uptime. Concurrent maintainability also ensures that a single critical component failure—electrical, cooling, power, etc.— will not disrupt service because of the redundant systems in place. How does the data center you are considering stack up?

      2. Does the colo provider offer multi-platform contract flexibility?

      Infrastructure needs can change fast. Make sure your provider gives you flexibility through implementation of different platforms (cloud, bare metal, etc.), as well as spend portability after you deploy so that you can switch up your infrastructure solutions to stay agile and keep pace with you company’s goals and workloads.

      3. Does the colo provider support High Power Density environments?

      With a high-power density configuration, you can fit more gear into a smaller space and reduce your overall footprint. This becomes especially important if you’re looking to deploy any type of hyper-converged solution.

      4. Can I get high-performance, low-latency bandwidth?

      Bandwidth is an essential cost that you cannot overlook when sourcing any data center or cloud solution. If you’re powering any mission-critical applications with your colocation deployment, look for a colocation data center that has quality blend of ISPs and inquire about latency averages.

      5. Does the colo provider offer interconnectivity solutions?

      Ideally, you’ll want a provider who offers a high-capacity private network that allows you to connect across various data centers throughout the country or around the globe. If your colo provider lacks interconnectivity solutions, you’ll need to partner with other vendors for interconnectivity options, which can be a future pain point.

      6. Does your provider offer geographically dispersed data centers for disaster recovery?

      Ultimately, you may require some sort of secondary site for any disaster recovery solution as part of your overall business continuity plan. Look for a provider that either has multiple sites across the a geographically dispersed area or some sort of off-site DRaaS product that works for your company.

      7. What about onsite support?

      Onsite expert support technicians can keep your infrastructure online, secure and always operating at peak efficiency when your own IT staff is unable to. Make sure your colo provider offers remote hands support and don’t leave it out of your colo budgetary considerations. You’ll also want to ensure that your data is protected by 24/7/365 onsite security/personnel.

      For more information on colocation pricing, or to find the best solution for you, chat now.

      Explore INAP Colocation.

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      Jeff Bettencourt
      • Director, Solution Engineering


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      Infrastructure for Online Gaming: Bare Metal and Colocation Reference Architecture


      Bare Metal is powerful, fast and, most importantly, easily scalable—all qualities that make it perfect for resource-intensive, dynamic applications like massive online games. It’s a single-tenant environment, meaning you can harness all the computing power of the hardware for yourself (and without the need for virtualization).

      And beyond that, it offers all that performance and functionality at a competitive price, even when fully customized to your performance needs and unique requirements.

      Given all this, it’s easy to see why Bare Metal has quickly become the infrastructure solution of choice for gaming applications. So what does a comprehensive gaming deployment look like?

      Bare Metal for Gaming: Reference Architecture

      Here’s an example of what a Bare Metal deployment for gaming might look like.

      bare metal gaming reference architecture
      Download this Bare Metal reference architecture [PDF].

      1. Purpose-Built Configurations: Standard configurations are available, but one strength of Bare Metal is its customizability for specific performance needs or unique requirements.

      2. Access the Edge: Solution flexibility and wide reach across a global network puts gaming platforms closer to end users for better performance.

      3. Critical Services: Infrastructure designed for the needs of your application, combined with environment monitoring and support, enables the consistent performance your players expect from any high-quality gaming experience.

      4. Content Delivery Networks: CDNs are perfect for executing software downloads and patch updates or for delivering cut scenes and other static embedded content quickly, while reducing loads on main servers. Read our recent blog about CDN to learn more.

      5. Automated Route Optimization: Your infrastructure is nothing without a solid network to connect it to your players. Ours is powered by our proprietary Performance IP service, which ensures outbound traffic takes the lowest-latency path, reducing lag and packet loss. For more on this technology, read below.

      6. Cloud Connect: On-ramp to hyperscale cloud providers—ideal for test deployments and traffic bursting. If you’re not sure what kind of cloud is right for you, our cloud experts can help you craft a flexible multicloud deployment that meets the needs of your applications and integrates seamlessly into your other infrastructure solutions.

      7. Enterprise SAN Storage: Connect to a high-speed storage area network (SAN) for reliable, secure storage.

      CHAT NOW

      The Need for Ultra-Low Latency

      In online games, latency plays a huge role in the overall gaming experience. Just a few milliseconds of lag can mean the difference between winning and losing—between an immersive experience and something that people stop playing after a few frustrated minutes.

      Minimizing latency is always an ongoing battle, which is why INAP is proud of our automated route optimization engine Performance IP and its proven ability to put outbound traffic on the lowest-latency route possible.

      • Enhances default Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) by automatically routing outbound traffic along the lowest-latency path
      • Millions of optimizations made per location every hour
      • Carrier-diverse IP blend creates network redundancy (up to 7 carriers per location)
      • Supported by complex network security to protect client data and purchases

      Learn more about how it works by watching the video below or jump into a demo to see for yourself the difference that it makes.

      Colocation

      If a hosted model isn’t right for you—maybe you want or need to bring your own hardware—Colocation might be a good way to bring the power, resiliency and availability of modern data centers to your gaming application.

      colocation gaming reference architecture
      Download this Colocation reference architecture [PDF].

      1. Purpose-Built Configurations: Secure cabinets, cages and private suites can be configured to your needs.

      High-Density Colocation: High power density means more bang for your footprint. INAP environments support 20+ kW per rack for efficiency and ease of scalability.

      Designed for Concurrent Maintainability: Tier 3-design data centers provide component redundancy and superior availability.

      2. Automated Route Optimization: Your infrastructure is nothing without a solid network to connect it to your players. Ours is powered by our proprietary Performance IP service, which ensures outbound traffic takes the lowest-latency path, reducing lag and packet loss.

      3. Cloud Connect: On-ramp to hyperscale cloud providers—ideal for test deployments and traffic bursting. If you’re not sure what kind of cloud is right for you, our cloud experts can help you craft a flexible multicloud deployment that meets the needs of your applications and integrates seamlessly into your other infrastructure solutions.

      4. Integrated With Private Cloud & Bare Metal: Run auxiliary or back-office applications in right-sized Private Cloud and/or Bare Metal environments engineered to meet your needs. Get onboarding and support from experts.

      5. Enterprise SAN Storage: Connect to a high-speed storage area network (SAN) for reliable, secure storage.

      Interested in learning more about INAP Bare Metal?

      CHAT NOW

      Josh Williams


      Josh Williams is Vice President of Solutions Engineering. His team enables enterprises and service providers in the design, deployment and management of a wide range of data center and cloud IT solutions. READ MORE



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