How does colocation work?

Data centre colocation is a service for organisations to rent out rack space to store servers and other IT hardware necessary for business operations. It also lets them leverage the connectivity and reach offered by a colocation data centre provider, with on-site features such as cooling, networking equipment, internet bandwidth, power and physical security.

Entering into a colocation agreement is comparable with renting a flat from a private landlord. Just like a tenant signs a contract, an organisation signs an agreement with a colocation data centre provider for a specified amount of time and space enabling them to move in to a data hall with their furniture – or in this case, servers and other IT equipment.

Colocation data centre operators are responsible for ensuring daily, uninterr upted operations of the facility, which includes providing adequate power, cooling, security, and connectivity.
Just like a landlord takes responsibility for ensuring the maintenance of certain safety requirements, such as fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Importantly, colocation customers are responsible for the maintenance of their own equipment, housed in shared or dedicated data centre facilities.

From a more technical perspective, colocation data centres supply segmented and segregated managed switches that connect to the Internet backbone in and out of the facility. This keeps all customers’ IT infrastructure separate from each other, whilst allowing them to house it in the same building.

Benefits of colocation

  • Security – Data centre colocation provides businesses with a secure environment to house their information. Alongside the need to safeguard customer data due to legal and ethical obligations, there are also strong business incentives for protecting data from competitors or cyber criminals. Many data centre facilities offering colocation solutions are protected by the highest level of physical security, including Telehouse.
  • Scalability – Regardless of the current size of the organisation utilising colocation solutions, it’s a necessity that IT infrastructure offers the scalability needed to match new projects, changes and future growth. Providing a robust IT infrastructure in a data centre facility can allow organisations to quickly scale up as the business expands, giving key professionals the opportunity to manage their network in a way that suits them.
  • Reliability – In the internet-dependent business world of today, availability and continued reliability is crucial to maintain service levels and ensure optimum customer experience. Colocation providers can offer the resilience and uptime modern businesses need via guaranteed uptime service level agreements (SLAs).
  • Cost – One of the biggest expenditures for any business is powering, maintaining and operating on-site data storage. It requires a number of skilled engineers and sufficient budget to effectively power the on-site servers, while keeping them at the right temperature to prevent overheating. A reliable colocation services provider can improve efficiency, manage costs better and focus IT resources on improving the user experience and overall business operations.
  • Cross connectivity – Carrier-neutral is a term used to describe data centres which can offer their customers extensive connectivity options. This gives organisations access to a comprehensive ecosystem of carriers, including leading internet exchanges, cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute and Amazon Web Services Direct Connect, ISPs, ASPs and more.

Physical features of colocation data centres

Below are some of the key physical features of colocation data centres:

  • Redundant power – Onsite generators and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems can provide a N+1 level of redundancy. This essentially means that the environment is able to deliver redundant power if a critical incident or emergency takes place. Operations avoid any interruption and critical business applications can remain online.
  • Redundant and high-speed internet connectivity – Data centre colocation services facilitate fast, reliable connectivity to the internet, both between data centre to data centre and to premises around the world. This is underpinned by direct connections to a large number of other carrier backbones. This provides the foundation to meet current requirements for organisations and for future scalability.
  • Technical support – The most comprehensive of data centre providers will feature help desks with 24/7, 365 days a year support. Customer queries and requests can be dealt with as needed, and will be inclusive of the upfront cost. Remote hands services can also provide access to an experienced set of engineers that can support services in racks as if they were an organisation’s in-house team. This could include checking the alarm status of equipment, investigating faults on customer circuits supplied by third party telecommunications carriers, and a physical check of LEDs and cable connections.
  • Regulation compliance – Colocation providers typically comply with the highest environmental, security and corporate social responsibility standards, across quality, security, environment, health and safety and corporate social responsibility. For example, the ISO 27001 certification in Information Security Management ensures security of key data, while certification with the PCI DSS standard is suited to financial applications.

Choosing a data centre colocation service

When choosing a data centre for colocation services, organisations should consider the following aspects:

  • Location – Opting for a colocation solutions provider with data centres in a strategic location can be beneficial in terms of physical access to equipment if needed. Sites in London, such as the Telehouse Docklands campus, are a backbone for the global internet network, acting as the home to the London Internet Exchange.
  • Connectivity – Organisations should consider the provider’s connections to a range of carriers, ISPs and ASPs. Data centres in close proximity to business hubs in the City and Canary Wharf can allow for low latency, which makes it ideal for trading exchanges and mission-critical applications.
  • Power – Opting for a data centre with a private dual primary substation means that operations can be maintained in the case of power or electrical shortages, while future proofing data centre operations.
  • Security – Choosing a data centre with the highest levels of building security, electronic access management, proximity access control systems and CCTV can ensure safety of critical data.
  • Accreditations – Organisations should look towards data centres with internationally recognised accreditations. In addition to ISO 27001 and PCI DSS, these can include:
    • ISO 22301:2012 (Business Continuity Management)
    • ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System)
    • ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management)
    • ISO 50001:2018 (Energy Management)
    • ISO 45001:2018 (Occupational Health and Safety Management)

Businesses in a variety of industries opt for Telehouse data centre colocation solutions to reach their business objectives, support their services and grab new opportunities. Our facilities bring unrivalled connectivity, and our London Docklands colocation data centres are home to a diverse ecosystem of carriers, partners, cloud services, content providers, finance companies and more. Check out the Telehouse London Docklands brochure to find out more.

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