Five prejudices about colocation debunked

Five prejudices about colocation debunked

29-01-2018 14:51:23

Every organisation wants to work productively from every device and from every location. In order to do this, they need a reliable and flexible IT environment. Preferably with as little costs as possible. And that is where colocation can provide a great solution. In practice, however, I find that there are a number of prejudices about collocation, like the ‘too expensive’-argument, or that it is not a flexible solution. IT departments then choose to keep in-house IT. But is this really the best choice? In this blog I would like to debunk some of those prejudices.

1.    Colocation is costly

People often forget which costs are associated with keeping in-house IT equipment. The necessary infrastructure is both costly and pretty complex. Especially when it needs to be maintained with the same standard as in a data center. Think about things like a good emergency power supply (UPS’s), generators and the cooling infrastructure. The required investment to keep high quality IT in-house is often as high as the bills for ten years of colocation services. And that is not counting the number of people that need to keep the servers going 24/7. The labour costs to keep staff available at every moment of the day are hugely underrated.

In addition, the running costs are also often overlooked. Especially when we look at the power costs. Small businesses usually do not have a clear idea of the cost of energy. Many organisations also have a false image of the actual IT costs, because the electricity bills are charged to the facility budgets, which means that those costs are not even included in the IT budget. 

2.    Colocation is not sustainable

Data centers generally have a bad name in the field of sustainability. For years, people have been calling data centers huge environmental polluters. Yes, a data center is a large energy consumer, but does not use more energy than the combined in-house IT. In fact, a data center takes so many measures that opting for colocation is almost always more sustainable. So where does this prejudice come from? All the energy used by the equipment of different companies is concentrated in a data center, and so it stands out more. However, data centers take CSR-measures that are not attainable for most organisations. An expensive measure that only saves a little energy is not feasible for a single company, but useful for the concentrated use of a data center. Examples of such measures are closed cold corridors, 100% sustainable energy, generators that can be fuelled by gases and ultrasonic humidification.

3.    Colocation is not at all flexible

Some people say that colocation is not flexible. When they keep all of their equipment in-house, they think they have more choices. On the one hand, colocation might cost you a little flexibility in, for example, your choice of racks, but on the other hand you get a lot more flexibility in return. Think about a lack of space, for example. Data centers allow you to easily upscale or downscale. This is not so easy on your own location, simply because an office does not have limitless space for IT equipment. 

In addition, data centers have many possibilities for additional services, both at the data center itself or with partners. Think about things like a hybrid cloud infrastructure, backup services, managed network services, load balancing, etcetera. These services can be set up according to your own requirements.

4.    My equipment needs to go to Amsterdam

Many people still think that the network needs to be a short distance from the AMS-IX and should therefore be placed in or near Amsterdam. This is actually a good way of thinking, but not when we are talking about distances within the Netherlands. Those extra 50 kilometres to a data center outside of the Amsterdam region are covered by the speed of light. You data packages won’t notice anything. Also, you have little influence on the routes taken by traffic on the internet. You might be ‘on the AMS-IX’, but you have no or little influence on the way in which users access your network.

There are some reasons to prefer a data center outside of Amsterdam. First of all, connections to the internet from data centers outside of Amsterdam are often more redundant. This is because they have connections to several internet exchanges and/or have contracted multiple transit providers. Additionally, the spread of fibre optic cables outside Amsterdam is better. Inside Amsterdam are a lot of cables very close together. That means that the regular construction work in the area might damage your redundant fibre optics. It takes several hours to repair this. 

5.    I can do it myself

It is often underestimated what is needed to maintain, manage and monitor IT infrastructures. It takes a lot of time, needs a lot of manpower and requires a lot of specialised knowledge. Especially if you want to ensure continuity at the same level as a data center. In a data center, the people are one of the most important factors. They have the right technological knowledge, skills and experience. They also have the right resources and tooling to put their knowledge into practice every day. It is virtually impossible to hire all these specialised technicians yourself. 

When you choose for collocation, you are ensured of continuity and connectivity. Your equipment is handled with the right technical knowledge and tooling. In short, the switch to colocation offers many advantages, both in the short and in the long run.

By: Wido Potters