Co-locations centres are a type of data centre where many customers host their servers on powerful and fast networks. Co-location centres are often referred to as ‘carrier hotels’ as multiple telecommunication providers tend to offer connection peering points at co-location centres. Co-location centres are often made up of several data floors that are simply large rooms for full of data racks and are normally designed to host thousands of servers, providing larger companies with the space that they require in order to make the most of their IT infrastructure. By using co-location server hosting you are able to make the most of server hosting whilst owning the equipment without having the expense of running your own data centre.
Advantages of Outsourcing Server Hosting and Data Center Functions
By choosing co-location server hosting, you are effectively outsourcing your server hosting operations to a third-party as another company will be providing you with the bandwidth, power and server space that you require in order for a server to be of any use to use. If you have chosen a co-location provider that will provide you with full server support then you will effectively have no power over your server yourself as anything that you require of it will have to go through the support team that you have been assigned to. The main benefits of outsourcing in this way include:
- You will be able to free up your IT staff to allow them to focus on tasks that are more important to your company, and such tasks will normally be related to the internal activities of your business – this will allow for the smoother running of operations and to an extent will save money
- There will be no hidden costs as you will be paying the same monthly fee for the same service regardless, this is of course unless you choose to upgrade or downgrade your co-location server hosting service as your requirements change
- You won’t incur the costs of running a standard data centre or any higher bills by hosting from your office as is the case in some situations because some businesses see it more fitting to build a smaller data centre or host from their own offices, but in such situations the cost of doing so can vary greatly
- Back-up systems are also common in most modern data centres and are there to help ensure that if any external feeds of bandwidth or power fail, there is at least one other method available to obtain either – as well as using two separate sources of mains power, most data centres will also utilize UPS battery back-up systems and diesel generators.
Physical Features of a Co-location Centre
Co-location centres generally share certain features to help ensure a high standard across all data centres that are constructed.
Almost every data centre will have many different levels of security in place to help ensure that only authorized personnel are granted access to confidential and sensitive areas of the building, namely the data floors. Popular security features include:
- Security cameras are a basic security measure and are usually constantly monitored to ensure that if any unauthorized individuals to gain access to the premises, they are removed immediately to reduce any security risk that they may pose
- Swipe-card systems usually operate around the buildings to enable important personnel to enter areas where other members of staff may not necessarily require access to, for example only network and systems engineers are going to require access to the main data floor
- Security staff are also in place to guard data centres as a whole since security systems themselves aren’t any use unless you have the personnel there to enforce them properly.
Data Floor Features
Data floors are the large rooms, often spanning entire floors that servers are hosted in. Most data centres have a large number of data floors to help keep things separate and in some situations clients may require their own server rooms. Most data floors feature:
- Server racks so that servers can be stored somewhere – servers are measured in rack units (U) and can vary in size depending on the type of server you have and the hardware that it contains, it should also be noted that most networking equipment can be rack mounted
- Fire protection systems are also in place to ensure that if a server does malfunction or something else sets off a fire, any possible damage can be limited to protect the building itself and indeed any undamaged equipment
- Air conditions systems are in place to deliver the server racks with the correct amount of fresh air to keep the equipment that they contain cool to provide optimum performance – if server and networking hardware overheats then it could be damaged beyond repair.
A co-location centre will normally provide you with a connection to a network that peers with several different providers to help bring external traffic into the data centre and to deliver it to the correct servers. Using multiple peering providers will allow you to ensure that your website will load fast from anywhere in the world – by just using a single connection you can never be sure that all of your visitors will be provided with a satisfactory browsing experience when using your website.
Multiple connection providers will also provide you with the guarantee of not having to worry about your server’s availability if one of the connections fails. Traffic can simply be routed via another connection of one of the main connections fails, although this will be rather slow. However, having the guarantee of traffic always being able to reach your server is an important must for most companies.
In conclusion, it is important for you to do your research when choosing a co-location centre as there are many factors that need to be considered. If you are going to be hosting a large number of servers then you may find it to be of benefit to you to visit data centres that are local to you so that you can get a real idea of the level of service that you are going to receive as well as what you are paying for.