At What Point Does the Physical Co-Location of Servers Make Sense?

Colocating is a big decision - and not one that should be made lightly. As something of a middle ground between dedicated hosting and running one’s own data center, colocating is generally something that’s done for strategic purposes. How exactly do you know if it’s a justified decision for your business, though?

When it comes to choosing between shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting, it seems like a pretty simple equation. Pick according to your business’s resource requirements. If you’ve got a high-availability use case with a ton of demand, you’ll need a dedicated server; if you’re just running a small blog, shared hosting is probably good enough.

Where colocation is concerned, it’s…not really that simple. Even with a dedicated server, you don’t necessarily own the hardware. You’re renting it from the host.

When you colocate, the hardware is yours. What you’re renting is the space needed to store it. As with dedicated hosting, there’s a whole range of different colocation plans with multiple levels of service.

That’s all well and good, but you’re here because you’re wondering if colocation is the right option for your business. To answer that, we’re going to need to explore a few of the reasons a business would choose colocation. Why colocated servers are a better option for said organizations than cloud hosting or operating their own data center.

  • Consistent demand. Their business needs infrastructure that guarantees constant connectivity, yet lacks the operating budget, space, or resources to host such infrastructure in-house.
  • Staffing. The business may lack the expertise necessary to maintain their hardware – instead, they may choose to rely on a host to do so. This can have the added benefit of reducing staffing costs through managed colocation services.
  • Control. While it’s true that high-end cloud infrastructure can meet many of the same resource demands as a colocated server, many businesses still wish to maintain control over their hardware.
  • Support and Risk Management. A managed colocation provider can ensure consistent uptime, and colocation facilities often have far more extensive redundancies and crisis response processes in place than their clients could ever hope to implement internally.
  • Lack of local resources. A business may have connectivity, power, or real estate needs that far exceed what is available to it locally.  Though it has access to all the necessary hardware and expertise necessary to run a facility, it cannot do so – thus it seeks a colocation plan.

Colocation is in many can be a step up from dedicated hosting. In other ways, however, it’s completely distinct. The shift from a dedicated or cloud server to a colocation facility is one that’s made not solely for reasons of demand, but for strategic and financial reasons, as well.

If you read through the above points and felt a hint of familiarity, then there’s a good chance physical colocation makes sense for your business. Otherwise, you can probably gain the same benefits simply by sticking to the cloud.