What is Colocation

In the past decade the internet has become a pivotal part of business and it is becoming more and more important for many companies to have a solid web presence in order to be successful. This means that businesses, large and small, have to think about the traffic and number of visits their website will be receiving and the best ways to host and manage them. This is where colocation comes in. Colocation is where a company rents out space in a data centre in which people can store their webservers. The servers are kept in individual ‘racks’ or ‘cabinets’ and the colocation company also provides the IP address and bandwidth for the server. If you do not own your own server many colocation companies also offer the option to rent one.
Much like with dedicated hosting you can choose between unmanaged and managed colocation. With managed colocation, the customer can rent space for their server but also pays for the provider to manage and monitor it. With this option only supported applications may be used on the servers – which some customers may find limiting. Unmanaged colocation is where the customer has to maintain their own server and apply any upgrades it may need themselves. While this is a more flexible option, the customer will need to spend more time looking after their server and will have to have staff with some technical knowledge in order to do so.
Using colocation can be advantageous in a number of ways. The cost for colocation is lower than it would be for a company or individual to host their own website as the costs are shared between all the customers. Many colocation centres have better protection against power cuts and have back-ups in place that many small businesses may not have. Additionally, colocation can have higher security than regular hosting as the servers can be kept in secure environments with the latest in firewalls and protection against unauthorised access. The servers themselves can also be kept in locked or closed cabinets for added security. Some colocation centres even offer fingerprint and voice recognition and monitor the building with guards and CCTV for those customers who want the highest levels of security.
While having your server located away from your offices can be beneficial in terms of power outages and security, not having your server in-house can cause some difficulties. This is especially true if you need to make quick changes to your server or if you need to access it outside of the data centre’s opening hours. Colocation providers close to your office can be fairly difficult to find, especially if your office is not close to a large city. However, it is not necessary to have the colocation centre close to your business as the provider can manage the server for you. This feature is particularly useful if a business is relocating to a new area, the servers can remain online and operational while this takes place.
So who can most benefit from using colocation? It is particularly useful for small businesses that do not have the space or the staff for a dedicated server but want a large web presence. Putting your server in a colocation centre, especially under a managed scheme, can save time and effort. Colocation is also suitable for companies who want a higher level of security and protection that they would not get with regular web hosting. Colocation is particularly popular with e-commerce companies as a secure and reliable store for their transactions and with telecommunications companies for exchanging traffic with partner sites.

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