7 Colocation Myths Debunked

Updated: April 30, 2009

Colocation services are uncertain ground for many SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses). A number of misconceptions about colocation can cloud the decision-making process. Here are some of those myths and the truth behind them.

1. Colocation is managed Web hosting by another name. This is not true. In a Web-hosting arrangement, your site's HTML code resides on another business's server. In a colocation arrangement, your company's equipment and software is physically located in another business's datacenter . Instead of sharing a server with multiple Web sites (often thousands of them), your company's site has its own server and supporting gear. Your enterprise's Web site does not compete with many others for server resources and bandwidth, and glitches in other company's Web sites do not affect your business's site.

2. Colocation is more expensive. It's true that colocation costs more than Web hosting. But compared to the cost of building a datacenter, colocation services are a bargain. The costs of staffing and high-speed Internet connectivity are other reasons to choose colocation. In a colocation facility, all tenants share these costs.

3. Colocation is inconvenient. Your business's IT staff can handle most equipment maintenance and configuration chores remotely. While it helps to have the IT staff and the equipment located relatively close to each other, staff members can always travel to the colocation site to upgrade equipment or software. But for most day-to-day operations, a remote colocation facility is no more inconvenient than having your company's servers in the next room. Colocation facilities may actually provide more space and better equipment organization than that broom closet that has been converted into a server room.

4. Colocation is less secure than in-house hosting. Colocated equipment is kept separate from other tenants' gear by locked and monitored cages. The colocation facility's firewall , IDS (Intrusion Detection System) and physical security will likely be better than what most SMBs can afford. The colocation facility's staff keeps security patches up-to-date, a chore that is often neglected in in-house IT operations. Generally speaking, your business's IT assets are safer in a colocation facility than in its own office.

5. Colocation service is less reliable. Most colocation facilities have redundant Internet connections and power supplies. They often run at less than 80 percent of capacity, so competition for bandwidth is not a problem. A colocation center's staff members — who should be on-site 24/7 — are trained to react instantly to outages .

6. Colocation is less flexible than owning equipment. All you rent in a colocation facility is space and connectivity — the servers and the software belong to your company. This gives your business control over what software runs on its servers and how powerful those servers can be. In a managed Web-hosting arrangement, the speed of the servers and the available software are limited to what the host provides.

7. Colocation services do not provide support. Actually, colocation services provide a great deal of support to tenants, including physical security, network security , disaster recovery , cooling and power. Managed service contracts are available to keep your company's servers fine-tuned and even to upgrade hardware or software. The degree of support that you business can obtain from colocation services is limited only by its willingness to pay for it.

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