The Pros and Cons of Data Center Colocation

By Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine

What kinds of businesses is data center colocation a good fit for? There are many reasons why your organization might be considering this move. Before taking the leap, it is important to understand the pros and cons of sharing a data center facility with other companies.

Pros of Data Center Colocation

Data colocation has some unique advantages over on-premise and cloud data storage that can outweigh the drawbacks in many situations. These advantages include stronger physical security, utility savings and greater resilience. 

24/7 Physical Security

Most people think of cybersecurity first when discussing server security, but physical safety is also important to consider. Data colocation can be a great way to ensure your organization’s servers are secure. Providers specialize in taking care of them and the sensitive data stored there. 

A reputable data center will have 24/7 physical security measures from top to bottom. For example, servers will be protected with strong high-gauge cages, which are difficult to break through physically, and walls to physically separate clients’ servers. Additionally, colocation data centers will have professional security staff on-site and cameras monitoring the facility inside and outside. 

Many companies can’t afford the level of physical security a colocation data center could provide. Even businesses that can would pay more for it than the cost of purchasing space at a data center. Plus, it’s simply convenient having someone else take over so your organization doesn’t have to worry about it. 

Reduced Utility Costs

Utilities can get expensive when it comes to data storage. Data centers consume billions of kilowatts of electricity every year, a large part of which is for cooling equipment. Operating your own facility or server room might be physically possible for your organization, but you would have to pay for utilities. Data center colocation distributes power and cooling costs among all tenants, making it less expensive. 

The money your organization saves on electricity could balance out the initial costs of purchasing space in a facility. For many businesses, the utilities and security savings combined make data center colocation a highly affordable option. Look for places using renewable energy if you’re concerned about reducing your data’s climate impact to save even more on electricity costs. 

Higher Resiliency

Data center colocation can improve the resiliency of your organization’s information by separating it from your physical location. The frequency and cost of natural disasters in the U.S. have steadily increased over the past four decades, indicating a continuing upward trend. This means businesses all over the country are at increased risk of being damaged by extreme weather events, like flooding or hurricanes. 

Storing your organization’s data in a separate, secure location significantly reduces the likelihood of losing all your information in a severe weather event. For instance, your company might have a nice office building by the shore but store your information in a colocation data center inland on high ground. Desks and office chairs can be replaced after a storm, but lost data is far more difficult to replace. 

Additionally, reputable colocation data centers have measures to protect their servers from unexpected events. For instance, they might have a backup power generator on-site that automatically boots up during an outage. A good manager will do everything they can to ensure servers never lose power, making them more resilient to digital and physical threats. 

Cons of Data Center Colocation

There are a few key drawbacks of data center colocation worth considering before investing. Physical data centers and cloud storage also have downsides, but these are cons specific to colocation data centers. 

Lack of Built-in Visibility

One of the challenges your organization might face is a lack of built-in visibility of your information’s security. Your company can implement its own tools but won’t typically get monitoring programs built into the data center colocation model. 

This contrasts sharply with cloud storage platforms, which often have monitoring options out of the gate. For example, Google Cloud has the Security Command Center feature and AWS has the similar CloudWatch tool. 

If your organization already has security programs and network monitoring tools you are experienced with, this drawback of data center colocation might not be a concern. However, startups, smaller companies or those that don’t have much in-house security expertise may find a lack of built-in monitoring tools may find this a more challenging option than the cloud. 

Lack of Control

Your organization will have less control over how things are managed when someone else oversees the servers your data is stored on. This is a given with data center colocation. Reputable centers do a good job of carefully and responsibly managing their servers and hardware, but some prefer total control over their infrastructure. 

Medium or large companies may have the personnel to effectively manage their own servers. However, smaller organizations or those without IT staff might find it convenient to have someone else take care of server hardware. This feature of data center colocation is a drawback for some but may be helpful for others. 

May Be Expensive

Cost is a common challenge businesses face when investing in colocation data center space. It can save money in some areas but also introduce new expenses that might not be affordable for your organization. These include setup, equipment maintenance, installation and licensing fees. 

High initial costs may be a bigger concern for smaller organizations, but they can pose a challenge for any size business. Data centers that scale setup and maintenance costs with the size of storage needs could also make things expensive for larger organizations. It is important to weigh these expenses against those for purchasing and maintaining on-premise servers and cloud storage to identify the most cost-effective option for your organization’s unique needs. 

Who Should Choose Data Center Colocation?

Data center colocation is a great option for some organizations. Companies that lack in-house IT and physical security personnel may appreciate a colocation data center’s ability to offer strong 24/7 security. It may also be a good fit for businesses that want to reduce their energy consumption and utility bills or don’t wish to pay for their own storage facility. Data center colocation is a great way to protect information from digital and physical threats while saving money and space.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine. A regular contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine, she has over four years of experience writing articles in the industrial sector.



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