Colocation is where you take your IT infrastructure and relocate it to a facility that can provide a professional environment for your equipment and IT needs. Most colocation moves to a data center arise out of the need to ensure continuous data storage, transfer and availability. 

Examples of colocation include

  • Banks with online banking portals that need continuous uptime
  • iPhone and web applications that need large amounts of bandwidth and continuous uptime
  • Companies that want a backup of their data
  •  Companies that want a hot site to switch to in case of a disaster at their primary site
  • VoIP telephone providers that need fast and consistent data transfer
  • Data transmission companies that need a hub for their transmission lines
  • Companies that have sensitive information that want a secure place to store it
  • Startups that want to move their equipment out of a closet and into something more secure and less prone to power outages and bandwidth caps

What should I look for when finding a colocation provider?
When looking for a colocation provider, you should consider the following:

  • What tier rating is the data center? You want a data center with a tier-2, tier-3 or tier-4 rating depending on the level of security and redundancy you need
  • Where is the data center physically located? If the data center is located in a liquefaction zone or in an area that is prone to flooding and power outages, it probably isn't a good idea to colocate there. Check message boards online for commentary about the data center to make sure that the staff is professional, prompt and highly trained
  • How long has the data center company been around? If the data center company has been around for a while then you know that they have a decent solution, otherwise the data center would be out of business.
  • How old is the building that the data center resides in? Old buildings typically have lingering problems that will have to be addressed. Make sure that if the data center is located in an old building, that all of the lingering issues have been resolved, rebuilt and reinforced.
  • Does the data center host reputable customers? If the data center hosts companies that are less than reputable then you might not want to be colocating there. There could be problems such as denial-of-service attacks that might spill over and interrupt your bandwidth availability. IP address blocks can be blacklisted which might make email delivery difficult. Illegal activity might cause the entire data center to be shut down.

Alternative colocation options
Virtualization is a way to share common hardware resources with other customers while retaining a secure server environment. VMware ESX virtual server environment is a popular product for virtualizing your servers, so that you don't have to spend money buying servers--you can just pay a reasonable monthly fee and share physical resources and get a highly scalable, highly available server colocation alternative.