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.