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To Colocate or Not to Colocate: That is the Data Center Question

Some might think that trying to compare data center colocation to Shakespeare might be a bridge too far, but it's not too far wrong. Oddly, it describes exactly the issues that users will face when considering whether or not to colocate a data center or maintain one internally. The answer to the question is, as is commonly the case, it depends.

To Colocate

Cost benefits are the biggest reason to colocate. Colocation is often done on a subscription basis, so what was thousands of dollars spent on hardware is now tens or hundreds spent on monthly fees. The issue goes from capital expense to operating expense, and spreading out a huge bill over years is sometimes more palatable. Throw in the cost savings associated with minimal maintenance—a colocated site is run by someone else altogether who has commonly offered a service-level agreement (SLA) that offers a guaranteed level of uptime—and there's a clear value in colocation.

Further, given that more companies are moving to cloud-based systems for a variety of purposes, having a colocated data center can work particularly well with such a setup. If users are already accessing data remotely, what difference does it make if the accessed data is kept locally or kept likewise remotely? This is great for a mobile workforce, and when used in disaster planning, a colocated data center can mean data is safe even when the business itself is on fire, or worse.

Or Not to Colocate

So why would anyone not colocate? The obvious reason is control; when using a colocated data center, the control is wholly in someone else's hands. So too, in many ways, is the data. While it's likely safe—the data center provider that goes snooping isn't likely to stay in business long—there's still a certain risk there that some may not feel comfortable with.

Additionally, some may not want to pay the recurring costs of colocation; while colocation pulls the teeth out of the big bill up front by turning capex into opex, some might rather “get it over with” and pay the costs immediately for fewer costs later. Sure, there will be maintenance costs to consider, but even then, these will likely be far less, and far less frequent, than monthly bills for colocation. Plus, users can set up the data center exactly as desired. That's not an option when someone else owns the data center.

That Is the Question

So whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous maintenance and upfront costs, or to take arms against a sea of vendors, and by opposing, select one, that's a choice that only the individual business can make. Companies like Emcon are ready to help those eager to step into colocation, with multi-vendor technology solutions, data center projects, and large-scale Flash storage options. The end decision is up to each firm, but there are good reasons behind each.