How to manage a relationship with a colocation provider

Building connections with tech companies typically involves employing vendor resource management strategies. 

When it comes to managing IT hardware, colocation services are often feasible options. What these companies do is relocate servers purchased by their clients to their own data centers, undertaking maintenance, uptime and service responsibilities. Businesses with limited IT resources typically outsource to colocation providers. 

What to look for 

Before signing a service-level agreement with such an enterprise, it's important for organizations to look at the resources data center management companies have at their disposal. Data Center Journal contributor Bob DeCoufle outlined several questions that businesses must ask colocation specialists: 

  • What measures are taken to ensure business continuity in the event unscheduled downtime or natural disasters occur?
  • Are power and cooling options provided, or are such processes predefined? 
  • What infrastructure configurations are employed? Stem-and-leaf? Tree plots? 
  • Does the prospect use up-to-date temperature management techniques or leverage legacy designs?
  • What steps are taken to ensure energy efficiency is employed? Are green resources accessed to lower electricity expenses? 
  • How does the provider exercise security practices? Are cameras prevalent around the facility? Which employees have access to the servers? How is authorization granted? 
  • Are equipment expansion options available in the event more applications or storage are needed?
  • Does the colocation company offer software-defined administration such as virtualization? Are these provisions included in the SLA or regarded as additional services? 

These are all assessments to make during the RFP process. If comprehensive answers are given, then this signifies the vendor is reliable and good at what it does. 

A different option 

There's also the option of purchasing dedicated servers from colocation experts. As opposed to purchasing hardware and having another company deliver it, the latter process involves renting equipment from data center management companies. 

Why would this be considered more appealing than co-locating? Upgrading hardware is the vendor's responsibility, as opposed to the client's. This eliminates the need for in-house IT teams to travel to facilities and implement new equipment whenever updates are necessary. In addition, scaling environments is much easier, as more expenses are simply added onto the monthly fees. 

However, there are some downsides to renting servers from colocation businesses. According to MyHostNews, even if the leasing fees cover the initial hardware investment, the cost of the server will never change. Also, there's the possibility companies are using low-end equipment that requires frequent maintenance, which may cause colocation providers to tack on costs when upgrades are necessary.

With these two options in mind, it's important for those in strategic sourcing to assess whether expenses will decrease as time progresses, or slowly accumulate over the course of a relationship. 

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