Deciding which colocation group is the right one for you is a difficult task that requires thoughtful preparation. Reputable colocation providers build, manage and support enterprise- class data centers with accompanying IT infrastructure that most corporations cannot realistically deliver in-house. Vetting potential colocation partners—whether the need is for powered shell,
wholesale colocation, racks in a caged environment, data hosting or other mission critical operations—means scrutinizing the essential details of the colocation operator. While the projected savings in manpower and maintenance are key benefits, do not enter into a colocation relationship based solely on cost.

Consider network access and connectivity when choosing a colocation partner
In this age of technology, businesses insist that their IT infrastructure be on the fastest platform possible, with uninterrupted service at optimal levels. Colocation providers certainly do deliver that capability, yet this ecosystem must also be provided as a cost-effective solution as network costs can be significant.

Corporations should seek a colocation data center that is “carrier neutral” and that operates a “Meet Me Room.” Carrier neutral means that the customer decides which fiber, cloud and other network service providers they can use within their data center. Having this choice across all network lines allows for a more cost-effective result.

The Meet Me Room (“MMR”) is an interconnection area where telecom companies can physically connect to one another over the Internet and exchange voice and data information. These rooms are gateways to the Internet and allow quick, reliable, and cost-effective connections between the buildings tenants. MMRs are filled with cages and cabinets containing servers and switches linked by thousands of cable connections. These physical connections are what allow the world’s information to be transmitted to individual computers.

The customer should sift through the operator’s marketing materials and ask some questions including the following:

  • Who are the fiber, Internet, and network providers currently in the facility and how are they accessed? (Make sure there are at least four providers, preferably eight or more)
  • What interconnection speeds can you offer? (Some providers are offering Terabit class capacity not seen a few years ago.)
  • What major cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, SoftLayer, VMware and any other cloud-based applications or infrastructure (SaaS, IaaS, DRaaS) do you offer?
  • Do you have a “Meet Me Room” or something similar? What charges are there, if any, for any cross-connects?
  • Do you have any direct fiber access to any nearby carrier hotel telecom buildings?
  • Does each lighted fiber carrier enter the facility via multiple points of entry (via underground conduits)? (If all of the network providers are on the same route into the building that is a concern.)
  • Are there any restrictions if the customer has a preferred provider—cloud, fiber or other—that is not currently in the data center?
  • Which “dark fiber” providers serve the facility.

Choose a colocation partner for security and compliance
Many customers must comply with the latest government requirements on data protection and retention. The third-party operator can help ensure that the customer has the right configuration to meet regulatory guidelines and customer commitments. These third-party operators have to continually upgrade their facilities to achieve such compliance. The hosting provider should be able to address such general questions as:

  • What certifications are in place and are there any others being sought?
  • How does the operator maintain compliance with each certification required by the customer?

For security, the operator will have a reinforced physical infrastructure that could include concrete bollards, steel-lined walls, bullet resistant glass and perimeter fencing. An authorized user, seeking entry, should encounter additional security such as biometric access control to ensure customers’ hardware investments are protected 24/7.

The best way to gain a level of confidence in the colocation provider’s security is to have an on-site tour. Your inspection should include the following:

  • Compare the security that the colocation operator suggests is in place to what actually occurred during the tour.
  • What critical security protocols do you require as part of the physical protection of the data center.
  • How do you prevent any unauthorized entry to the customer’s cage, suite or data hall?

Conclusions
Because the IT customer has more third-party colocation choices than ever before, making the choice has become a complex process that requires proper due diligence to select the best colocation provider.

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