Colocation is where you locate your servers off site at a secure data center typically
owned by a hosting company. The hosting company provides a connection to the Internet,
bandwidth, physical security and rack space in which to mount your servers. Colocation
is similar to hosting with the exception that you own the servers.
Managed vs. Unmanaged
There is both unmanaged and managed colocation. Unmanaged colocation means you are
responsible for the maintenance, monitoring, and upgrades of your system. With managed
colocation the hosting company or a third party takes on that responsibility. Which
one is the right choice for your business will depend on how important the Internet-based
computer system is to your company and your company¹s strengths.
If your Internet-based system being unavailable from time to time is not a problem
for your company then managed colocation is probably not required. Managed colocation
is normally best for companies that want to proactively manage their systems to
maximize uptime. If this is not important to your company then unmanaged colocation
is less expensive and when a problem occurs you can either have your IT staff repair
it or pay the hosting company on a time and materials basis.
Internal vs. Outsourced
If maximizing system uptime is important, then you need to decide if your internal
IT staff has the knowledge and time to keep the system performing flawlessly. If
managing your Internet-based system is the best use of your internal IT resources
and they have the time to maintain its operational efficiency and security, then
an unmanaged colocation solution may be the correct choice.
Two other reasons to consider outsourcing managed colocation are the tools you will
need to proactively manage the infrastructure yourself and the possible need to
hire additional shifts of IT staff for 24 hour support 7 days a week. To be proactive
you will require monitoring capabilities that go beyond informing you when a piece
of equipment is not working. A sophisticated monitoring system should generate automated
alerts that warn of impending problems, include a trouble ticket system, and have
the ability to perform trend analysis on stored measurements. You also will need
engineers available 24/7 to monitor and handle the alerts.
Both managed colocation and unmanaged colocation are viable alternatives. A little
analysis should quickly identify which colocation method is right for your business.