Do you think your business might need colocation services, but you’re not quite sure? Do you want to make sure this is the right move for you right now before you start researching local providers and data centers? Maybe you’re not even sure what colocation providers do, but in your quest for a better web host you’ve been inundated with the term. Cloud hosting targets small businesses, and colocation services are an alternative for small to mid-sized companies who want to snag scalability while maintaining the best security. It’s for businesses that want a budget-friendly option and who expect (or hope!) for growth, so they want a service provider who can “grow” with them.
However, for the non-techie, coming across terms like dedicated hosting, hybrid options, and colocation service providers can be frustrating and read like mumbo jumbo. First things first: What exactly is colocation? Basically, it’s when you house a server you own in a data center managed by pros. You’re not leasing or renting hardware—you own it. However, you don’t have to manage it. You rent “rack space” in a colocation environment, but you still provide all of the servers and hardware that goes along with it. It’s almost like having an in-house server, but you avoid risks and enjoy scalability that’s otherwise impossible.
Isn’t Colocation an Obvious Choice?
Now that you know what colocation is, how do you know if it’s for you? It sounds like a great approach where you enjoy all the rewards of having your own server with none of the risks. Plus, if you’re a small business with big growth dreams, you’d better make sure scalability is on the agenda. However, bear in mind that timing is everything. You might be overdue for making the switch, or you might not be there yet. Answer these key questions and you’ll find out if “colo” is for you right now:
- Are you an early-stage startup on a budget? Sometimes there’s a thin line between “startup” and small business. The vast majority of startups fail, and sometimes poor financial decisions exacerbate an already delicate situation. If you’re strapped for cash and your current web presence includes just a smattering of static pages, you probably don’t need a more advanced infrastructure right now. In fact, with static pages, you may never need colocation. It’s when you start adding more dynamic pages that colocation can help. There are many financial investments you can make to bolster your startup’s odds for success, but going with a colocation center isn’t one of them. Wait until you make it to “small business size” and then reconsider.
- Do you have an in-house server already? If so, then going with a colocation provider might be a great way to get more protection and up your redundancy. After all, you’ve already made the “big purchase.” Servers can be incredibly expensive, to the tune of $200,000 in some cases. If you haven’t already purchased a server, make sure you really need one first. Otherwise, you could easily bankrupt your business before it has a fighting chance.
- Are you all about physical infrastructure? Web hosting is a complex issue and it’s a lot more than owning servers and related equipment. You also need to focus on connectivity, cooling strategies, and redundant power just to get started. Having everything you need in-house is a lot of work and very expensive. Businesses that already own servers and are after an improved infrastructure can benefit from colocation services.
- Are you “certified”? Some industries require certification, particularly if you store sensitive information. Surprisingly, a lot of businesses go colocation because it’s the best, easiest way to abide by certification requirements like the SOC I Type II or the HIPAA standards. Some of these certifications are incredibly complex, and you can spend a lot of time and money trying to play by the rules. A colocation provider takes care of a lot of the leg work for you, freeing you up to actually run your business.
- Do you need high-performing hardware for your applications? Some applications use a bevy of resources, and it can be expensive to find the best solutions from web hosts. “High-performance servers” may be offered from a slew of web hosts, but there will come a time when you might need to just buy your own. Leasing hardware is kind of like renting an apartment instead of buying: It works well for a while, but most people eventually outgrow that kind of situation.
Colocation isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic solution for many growing companies. Go with a local provider for optimal customer service and peace of mind knowing that professionals and your data center are relatively close—yet far enough away that you can sit back and let the experts take care of much of the busy work.