If you've decided to opt for a colocation provider to manage your network and hosting, it's important that you select a provider that's going to meet your needs over the long term. Especially if this is your first time looking into colocation, you may not know all of the things that you should be considering. Here's a look at a few things to think about before you take the plunge.
Core Facility Considerations
- Building Occupancy - Consider how the equipment is housed before you make a commitment to any provider. If the equipment is housed in a single-tenant facility (such as a provider-owned building), it's inherently safer than an environment with multiple businesses in the space. The single-tenant structure allows your colocation provider to have complete control over the building security and equipment access.
- Building Location – Don't dismiss the importance of the building's location. If the building is located in a flood plain, for example, consider how often the area experiences high water levels and inquire about what kinds of preventative measures have been taken. You should also think about the proximity to things like airplane travel routes and train tracks. Emergencies with either type of transportation can lead to hazardous spills that may cause damage.
- Power Sources – Look for a provider that offers uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) for the data center systems. A UPS system ensures consistent power to the equipment at all times. Most UPS systems are backed up by large generators that power the facility if the primary power source is disrupted. This is key, because it protects your servers and maintains uptime statistics.
- Cooling Systems – Any time you're dealing with computer equipment of any kind, you need to be sure that it is kept cool. Ask about the cooling systems in place with any colocation provider you're considering. The cooling system should be sufficient enough to not only counter the heat generated by the equipment, but also that added by personnel and solar gain (heat absorbed through the roof). The cooling system should also have humidity control to keep both excess moisture and static discharge at bay. It's a delicate balance, so make sure that the system is reliable.
Fire Safety Features
Due to the sensitive nature of the equipment in a colocation facility, it's important that you give careful consideration to the fire safety equipment. Most facilities will install several different types of suppression systems.
- Dry Pipe Systems - A dry pipe system is one that is charged with air, not water. It's popular in these types of areas, because it only fills the lines with water when there's an alarm activation and heat sensed in a specific area. Then, the only lines charged with water are those in the area of concern. This protects the equipment in the other areas, keeping everything contained.
- Early Detection – An early smoke detection system uses a series of sensors to detect ions in the air that could suggest that something is smoldering and might lead to a fire. If an abnormality is identified, it triggers an alarm in the region of the building where the sensor was activated. Then, personnel can evaluate it and potentially prevent a fire before it happens.
These are a few of the most important things you should consider before you commit to a colocation contract with any provider. By exploring these features and considering the structure and other issues, you'll be able to choose a provider that meets your needs and offers the protections that your equipment needs. Make a colocation service work well for your business by following these tips and working with someone you can count on. For more information on local colocation services, check out the sites of companies in your area.