Choosing the right colocation provider can be incredibly challenging—but it’s also one of the most important decisions your business will ever make. A good colocation provider will enable your business with high uptime, excellent value-added services, technical support, and high-quality partnerships. A bad host, on the other hand, could easily cripple you.
By considering all of the following, you can make sure you avoid the bad ones.
Services, Resources, and Tools
First and foremost, what do you need from your colocation plan? Are there any tools or services that will make life easier for your business? Are there certain resources you absolutely require?
A facility that seems otherwise perfect on paper might be a bad fit for your business solely because of where it’s situated. In some cases, this may not be a concern. However, if your organization has stringent latency requirements and operates exclusively in certain regions, you’ll likely want to find a host that’s a bit closer to home.
Security & Compliance
Security requires a great deal more than an antivirus solution and a firewall. Especially if your business has compliance requirements, it’s far broader. Factors to consider include:
- Physical access control
- Threat intelligence
- Intrusion detection and prevention
- Risk management
- Crisis management
- Processes and policies
Has your colocation provider submitted to a third-party security audit? If not, we suggest walking away. Otherwise, you might end up dealing with a data breach through no fault of your own.
A good colocation provider has generally undergone a Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) 16 audit. Granted, this isn’t technically a certification—but it still assesses whether or not a data center’s systems and controls stand up to scrutiny. Ensure a prospective colocation provider has undergone a SOC 2 Type II audit and that they’re willing to provide you with the results.
Additional certifications to look for include:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Compliance
- Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance
- NIST SP 800-53 Compliance
A good colocation facility is carrier-neutral, with access to multiple tier-1 providers. It should also maintain a comprehensive ecosystem of interconnected partners and clients. Generally speaking, more interconnectivity means better WAN pricing and increased redundancy.
Especially if your colocation provider offers disaster recovery or business continuity services, highly-redundant infrastructure is a must. Ideally, this means seeking out a facility that operates on a 2N+1 redundancy model. Where N is the minimum capacity needed for a data center to remain operational, 2N+1 means there are at least three layers of redundancy for each critical component, ensuring the lights stay in all but the most catastrophic scenarios.
You’ll also want to look for a host with offsite backups and remote support, management, and failover capabilities. Finally, check to see if your prospective vendor is willing to work with your business to define your crisis management and response processes.
Service-Level Agreement and Support
It’s all well and good for a host to claim resiliency on paper—but are they also willing to put their money where their mouth is? Look at the SLA offered by a prospective provider. What promises does it make regarding uptime, and what will it do should it fail to fulfill that promise?
You’ll also want to consider how much support your business needs, as different providers offer different guidance levels.
Last but not least, look at what other people have to say about your colocation provider. Look for customer references, case studies, and reviews. A provider that lacks a clear history or has a large volume of negative reviews may be one you want to avoid.