Choosing a Colocation Service Provider – A Guide for SMBs
Most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) require a high-performance, reliable data center, particularly as applications and data continue to increase in importance. However, since IT isn’t the main focus of most SMBs, a colocation facility may be the right choice.
After deciding to use a colocation facility, SMBs face the daunting task of choosing a colocation service provider. It’s essential for SMBs to conduct a big picture assessment that looks at far more than just software, hardware, and cost. Here are five essential things every SMB must consider when looking for a colocation facility that meets their needs.
1 – Security
Both physical and logical security must be ensured when choosing a colocation service provider. While it’s easy to see how well physical access is secured, it’s more difficult to determine logical security. When determining the suitability of a specific colocation service or partner, logical separation and security is important.
2 – Privacy
While virtualization offers SMBs the ability to enjoy the compute capacity and flexibility of larger businesses, it has the potential to create challenges that may result in legal ramifications. Since different countries have unique laws that govern personal data privacy, SMBs must consider whether data stored at a colocation will be transmitted to another country, resulting in the violation of privacy laws. It’s essential that SMBs choose colocation providers that have the necessary technology, procedures, and policies in place to match the regulatory compliance requirements of the business.
3 – Maximizing the Operation of the Data Center
While most colocations focus on the overall operations of the facility, SMBs must take care of operations down to the rack level to maximize operation of the data center. SMBs need to monitor and manage their own equipment. Although colocations may use heat rejection systems and superior thermal management, the individual rack of a SMB may be vulnerable to hot spots. Using environmental probes and rack monitors can help SMBs keep track of humidity levels and temperature for their own equipment.
4 – Retail vs. Wholesale
While wholesale data centers generally only provide space for servers, retail centers offer multiple services that go beyond floor and rack space. SMBs that don’t have dedicated IT staff may find additional services, such as managed hosting, cloud-based applications, and managed storage, helpful.
5 – Monitoring and Managing On-Site
It’s essential to choose a provider that provides a cooled environment for the equipment it houses, but SMBs must also monitor and manage the equipment that stays on-site, ensuring the on-site equipment is connected with the colocation facility. It’s essential to keep track of onsite security measures, heating and cooling practices, and power conditioning. Environmental probes, rack monitors, and power management software can help SMBs gauge how well onsite equipment is operating, ensuring that issues are caught before they turn into significant problems.