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Demystifying Colocation

July 10, 2017
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Out of all of the options for hosting websites, databases, and specialized applications, colocation may be the most mysterious. This is because there is hosting involved, yet the customer owns the physical server. It can seem confusing at first because other hosting options involve renting or leasing all or part of a server (also known as a box), and the hardware may be very far away from the customer. What makes colocation different from these other options?

Control

When you literally own your server, you have full control over its hardware. You are not restricted to a web host’s choice of CPUs, hard drives, or anything else to do with the physical aspects of the machine.

You also have control over what software you run, and there are no restrictions on how much of your server’s resources you use. Of course, it is still possible to crash your server by running programs that eat up all of its RAM, but you won’t get throttled by any artificial limitations. This is wonderful freedom for those who want to run resource-intensive web sites, database configurations, and other such things.

The few limitations that may remain are prohibitions on sending out email spam, publishing hateful or harassing content, engaging in criminal activity, and other things along these lines. These prohibitions are common to both data centers and broadband connectivity providers.

Lower Costs

For companies large enough to need at least one entire server, colocating often offers lower costs compared to the alternatives. With colocation, you deal directly with the data center instead of a company that, itself, is leasing space in one – thereby cutting out the middleman and his profit. Data centers also buy broadband access in bulk, and can pass on the savings to their customers via lower bandwidth fees.

The biggest source of cost savings comes when customers choose bare-bones service. At this level, all maintenance and repairs for the server are done by the customer instead of data center technicians. This greatly reduces overhead for the data center, so the cost to the customer is far lower. Some colocation data centers do offer higher service tiers – all the way up to full hardware management – but prices go up as these services are added. Server owners must therefore consider the cost of each service tier versus its benefit.

Improved Location Choices

Those who aren’t concerned about being close to their servers will find that they have a wide array of cities to choose from. This lets them easily address specific concerns about weather, connectivity, legal jurisdiction, and more. It also allows customers to use data centers in multiple locations in order to ensure that there is a running backup at all times.

Web hosting and server leasing companies, on the other hand, tend to be concentrated in just a few cities. This can be problematic if a disaster strikes those areas.

Flexibility

As businesses go through stages of growth and downsizing, their server needs change. This can be a big problem with managed hosts and leasers because they may require a server migration whenever the plan size is changed. With colocation, there is no such problem. The box(es) may be physically moved to a different rack if you change the amount of space you use, but this does not require the transfer of data from one machine to another. Instead, the machine is simply unplugged from one location and plugged back in at the new one – a process that takes just a few minutes.

To learn more about colocation and all of the options available to you, just contact us. We’ll be glad to help you get set up.

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