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:
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 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?
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 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.