Colocation: What is it, and Why it’s a Good Fit For Bigger Mid-Size Businesses

Businesses without an online presence are few and far between these days, and there is a vast number of options for web hosting for those who’ve joined the majority and taken their business online. The bulk of those business owners won’t know one type of hosting from the other, and that’s perfectly fine – we may well know little to nothing about the ins and outs of your industry also.

Here at 4GoodHosting, part of what’s made us a top quality Canadian web hosting provider is the way in which we’re entirely receptive to the differing needs of businesses when it comes to optimally locating themselves on the World Wide Web. Web hosting is most certainly not a 1-size-fits-all utility, and we offer different options accordingly.

Which leads us to this week’s discussion. Collocation is something of a ‘buzzword’ in the industry these days, and as such we’re going to lay it out in detail in this week’s blog. Conventional shared hosting will be fine for small businesses with a stable number of visitors, but a large multinational – for example – will probably have its own web servers. Those of you who are somewhere in between may want to look at colocation.

What Exactly is Colocation?

It’s when companies locate their own privately-owned web servers and IT equipment in a 3rd-party data centre. They don’t own the space, they rent it.

The total space available will be rented out to many different companies, and the provider will offer day-to-day support to accommodate the entirety of the clients’ web presence needs. You’ll get bandwidth, power, cooling, security (physical and cyber), and as many IP addresses as needed. Client companies are responsible for maintenance and upgrades, but some data centres will offer this service for an additional cost.

How much space is available in a colocation data centre? That’s a measure of racks and cabinets. The physical server equipment is kept on a rack, and most measure 1.75” high. On average, 47 racks make up a cabinet and clients typically can rent out full or half cabinets.

Advantages of Colocation

There are plenty of advantages to choosing colocation over shared or private hosting.

For starters, colocation tends to be a very reliable way for larger businesses to be optimally hosted on the web. There’s a number of reasons for that; power outages are rare and most data centres will have the means of quickly overcoming them if they do occur.

In addition, the data centres tend to be extremely reliable when it comes to backing up data. Add the fact they’re nearly always especially secure with strongly-locked cabinets, CCTV, and in-person security staff and you needn’t concern yourself with data security.

Colocation generally offers a more fully-functional web service than you’d get with shared hosting. That’s primarily attributable to greater bandwidth and lower latency when it comes to loading your web pages.

Moving right along, colocation also offers more flexibility in comparison to most web services. You’re more able to choose a plan that really suits you, and upgrade as needed when your business grows. Keep in mind that the expansive bandwidth you get with colocation is often cheaper per volume than you’d get with shared hosting.

Added control is a plus too. Although you’re responsible for your own server equipment, it means if you want to upgrade anything, you can. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

Finally, colocation is a great way of saving office space. No need for a big rack room anymore. Choosing a maintenance option, if available, can also save IT staff and logistics costs.

Colocation Disadvantages

Colocation does have some specific drawbacks, however.

This starts with the fact that most colocation data centres are found in major metro cities. If your office isn’t in one of them, you may struggle to find a colocation centre that works for you. You can still go with colocation, but you’ll have to travel to that data centre, at least in the beginning. That’s because you’ll need to install and maintain your equipment. Like any office, the colocation centre will have office hours and you’ll have to work around those hours.

For some, that takes away from the practicality of going with colocation for web hosting in Canada. Another consideration is that you’ll likely have a lease with the data centre (definitely the norm) and you’ll be tied to them for the duration of it. If you move cities, this could be problematic.

Last in our list of potential drawbacks is the fact that while bandwidth is often cheaper through colocation in comparison to shared or VPS hosting, with colocation you have no choice but to buy all the hardware yourself. That’s an added cost, and typically not a small one. Depending on your plan, you may have to pay extra as your business grows and you begin to receive that ever-welcome increase in web traffic.

Who is Best Suited for Colocation?

Those of you simply running a personal website or blog won’t need to invest in colocation. On the other hand, if you’re running a large business, then you will probably want to own and run your own web services. Some of you may be between those 2 stages, and it’s you who’ll benefit most from colocation for your web hosting. You can sport a large, professional-looking web presence, while having your data centre take care of the grunt work of day to day web operations.

There are pros and cons to colocation. However, if your business is at that formative middle stage of its growth, it can be just right for you.

As always, don’t hesitate to be in touch with us here at 4GoodHosting if you have any questions regarding which type of web hosting is best for your business.

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