Data Center Journal

Volume 27 | May 2013

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3 FACILITY corner Selecting a Colocation Provider By Bob DeCoufle Y ou have reached that moment, the moment when you are in need of IT/ data center options. You gather your wits and research, network with peers and develop comparisons to help narrow down a choice. You study your information and you begin asking yourself, do we have enough existing space for our growth needs? Will our budget be slashed next year? Will the company continue to grow? Will our next IT refresh consolidate and become denser? After all these questions all that remains between success and failure could be this decision; should we outsource or insource? Are you prepared to make the recommendation? This bit of exaggerated IT drama does occur around the globe to companies who are facing the decision to outsource or insource their IT requirements. Are you facing a similar challenge? The debate between choosing outsourcing over insourcing and vice versa has been and continues to be a question that has no clear winner. The reason why? Both methods have pros and cons that need to be compared against the corporate strategy and sometimes it is just not that simple. Therefore, while one solution may work for one company it may not for the other. To make matters worse, the economic downturn in the past few years has tightened budgets strangling and/or rushing decisions. So where to turn to? For starters taking an analytical approach weighing the pros and cons has provided sound results for many managers, however as stated, every situation is different. There are many areas of IT that can be outsourced, but for the purposes of this article we will focus on colocation services. Colocation simply means that you rent specific space to house your servers along with the servers of other companies in a common physical location. Each company's equipment is physically secured inside a lockable wire cage or a cabinet. In short, it is a data center rental. Colocation pulls the responsibility of operating a data center and gives it to someone else who specializes in this area to do it for you. For many of you, losing control over your facility will be the hardest part of outsourcing your data center. What you must keep in mind is that your company is in the business of "creating widgets" and not managing and owning a data center; easier said than done. By most, colocation is defined by three components: space, power and cooling. Space, measured by square foot or meter, is delivered in either cages or racks. Power is critical, because without it, there is no colocation offering. It is a robust combination of utility, generators, uninterruptible power supply and distribution at the circuit level to customer equipment. Cooling helps drive efficiencies and deliver greater data center densities, which translates into potential savings to the end-users. Combined, these three elements make up the colocation commodity. Other important offerings to every colocation is security, facility management and carrier access. These required items can make or break the experience. So now let us begin to create a list of questions you should be asking yourself to develop your own colocation provider checklist. Does the colocation facility offer a cost savings between 20-70% over my existing option and for how long? If not then either find one that does or re-examine your requirements to ensure that a colocation option is truly an option best suited for your organization. 1 Does the colocation facility allow me the freedom to focus on my core competencies without worrying about the data center infrastructure? If you respond no to this then move to the next facility. 2 Does the colocation facility meet your geographical requirements? Is it a disaster recovery location? Does the site need to be within a short or long distance from your staff? Does it meet your weather hardening requirements (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc). 3 How flexible is my power and cooling options? Do I have options to purchase more power and cooling? What are my limitations? Can I monitor my power and cooling? Can I purchase my power by the kW? If you have an IT platform that evolves and is growing then you need a provider that can be flexible. 4 What does the power configuration of the data center look like? Now for many who are less familiar with data center infrastructure you 5 THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL | 13

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