Expert Blog: Best Practices for Choosing a Data Center Colocation Provider

Julia Morgan
Julia Morgan, Co-Founder and President Carrier-1

Data centers to house your IT infrastructure are constructed and operated in a variety of ways. Your decision to choose a data center colocation provider is influenced by a variety of variables. With most of the colocation contracts lasting several years, it is critical to choose a colocation provider that suits your present as well as your future IT infrastructure housing requirements. Here are some crucial factors to consider before making your selection.

By Julia Morgan, Co-Founder and President Carrier-1

It’s recommended to examine the most important aspects that will affect your decision to hire a data center colocation provider.

These factors include:

  • Data center location
  • Flexible colocation space options
  • Power redundancy, capacity and density
  • Diverse network options
  • Data center compliance audits
  • 24/7/365 onsite monitoring and security
  • 24/7/365 onsite customer support
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)

Data center location

The cost of doing business varies by geography. In Texas, for example, the cost per watt is quite cheap and consistent. Not only are real estate costs cheaper than in many other areas, but tax benefits also save money compared to other markets. Dallas is expected to be North America’s fourth largest multi-tenant data center market, with a minimal risk of natural catastrophes.

Flexible Colocation Space Options

The most popular colocation approach is general population by rack. Private data center suites are an easy way to grow or diversify your online infrastructure. Virtual-PODs serve as a primary site, a backup site in the event of a disaster, or a tertiary point to vary your footprint while saving money.

Ask about expansion options if you want to start small with data center colocation and grow over time. You could wish to secure neighboring space ahead of time under a ‘Right of First Refusal’ clause. You could also negotiate wording in your agreement concerning free cross connections to several footprints dispersed across the facility so that you can expand without committing to extra space.

Power Redundancy, Capacity and Density

Any colocation build-out must have redundant power infrastructure. Consider each provider in terms of the amount of redundancy you require, such as N+1, 2N, and so on. It’s also crucial to know who is in charge of such systems. Is it the building owner or a third party that is responsible? Any third-party providers should be thoroughly vetted, and you should be aware of their escalation procedures with the colocation provider.

When you’re planning to expand, knowing your capacity is crucial. Ask about the amount of power available in the facility now, depending on current customer consumption, contract responsibilities, and future expansion plans. Also, make sure you’re aware of each colocation provider’s maximum power density per rack. This will allow you to figure out how many servers you can fit into each rack or cage. In high-power density systems, the provider’s cooling efficiencies, or Power Utilization Efficiency (PUE), are crucial.

Diverse Network Options

You may use your existing network carrier with carrier neutral providers. Use your present network at the colocation facility to leverage your purchasing power and existing contracts. You may expand your network to link numerous sites or create variety by using a different carrier.

Many colocation providers additionally provide their own multi-carrier blended mesh. This is usually the quickest and most convenient method of getting online. It may also be used as a stand-alone service for out-of-band network administration, monitoring, and failover. Before you commit to the service, make sure to evaluate their network performance using one of your own IP addresses from their facilities.

Data Center Compliance Audits

PCI, HIPAA, and SOX are just a few of the aspects to consider when it comes to security and compliance. Check for access control at all entrance points, as well as cameras that are mounted and monitored around the perimeter and in the surrounding regions. SSAE-18 audits are commonly used by data center providers to validate procedure engagements, including SOC attestations. Tenants can then complete the facilities requirements component of their audits on their own.

24/7/365 Onsite Monitoring and Security

Within a colocation setting, you invest in redundant infrastructure. Environmental systems are usually regulated via remote monitoring techniques. More significantly, a team must be engaged in reacting to monitoring system alarms. These systems, including environmental controls for power uptime, cooling temperatures, humidity levels, network performance, and access control processes, must be monitored by a colocation provider’s skilled data center staff.

24/7/365 Onsite Customer Support

In the middle of the night, you might need someone to physically reboot your server for you. You could wish to update your RAM, replace a wire, or put in instructions locally. Streamline installations by delivering equipment straight to the colocation facility, where it will be installed on your behalf by facility workers. You may be more productive with your time by utilizing local support employees who operate within the data center for quick replies to ‘remote hands-and-eyes’ requests. Driving to the data center is no longer essential. This implies you can co-locate your server infrastructure anywhere with onsite customer support. Ensure that customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

The most prevalent feature of an SLA is that the colocation services should be delivered to the client according to the terms of the contract. The most common service level agreement (SLA) offered by colocation data center operators is 99.9% guaranteed power and network uptime. If you buy redundant (or ‘B-side’) power circuits and network drops that match your ‘A-side’ primary, some companies will guarantee 100 percent uptime. Some colocation providers may agree to a cooling SLA based on the power density of your system, although this is uncommon because temperatures might fluctuate depending on your installation.

You’ll be able to handle things that are crucial to your organization with flexible service level agreements. Is the colocation provider willing to make changes to meet your requirements? Don’t wait until you’ve chosen a site to start thinking about SLAs. Start thinking about them as soon as you’ve narrowed down your possibilities.

About Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan is Co-Founder and President of Carrier-1. The company owns/operates a 106,866-square-foot data center facility at 1515 Round Table Drive in Dallas, Texas, with up to 60,000 square feet of raised floor space available. Up to 10 MW of electricity and network connection to ANY carrier are included in the redundant infrastructure. Any complying need, including PCI, HIPAA, and SOX, is met by the SSAE18 SOC-1 Type-2 audited colocation facility.