There is no simple checklist to help you decide whether you should use a Colocation service, as opposed to say, Managed Hosting. That said, there are some major considerations you should take into account when you are faced with the decision, and we’ll outline them here in this brief article.
The Need for Custom Hardware
If you need customized hardware, or a robust physical infrastructure which needs to be physically tailored to suit your own specific requirements, then managed hosting is not likely to be the service for you. Colocation allows you to own and gain direct access to your servers, whereas a managed hosting provider will typically control and make decisions on the servers they install to run your applications and software.
At best, a managed host will give you a selection to make from “class of product” lineups, and you have zero control over what is deployed. With colocation, you are free to use whatever vendor, platform or manufacturer you choose, whether it is hardware or software.
The Need for Bandwidth
If you have a need for high bandwidth, because you are running video rather than a simple webpage, then a managed host is again probably going to be unsuitable. Colocation allows you to control the amount of bandwidth you need and ensure that service is delivered. This is essential if you are hosting audio/video, database applications, portals and search engine-type websites with high traffic levels, or any other application that requires a lot of bandwidth.
The cost of entry to colocation may be higher than a managed hosting provider, however, continuing variable costs going forward, including adding more bandwidth will be much less as a general rule.
The Need for Server Clusters & Load Balancing
Colocation lends itself to customizing the server configuration to suit your business requirements, as you have direct physical access and control over what is deployed within the colocation data center. This is way beyond the one-size-fits-all approach of managed hosting service providers.
With colocation, you can deploy multiple servers, firewalls, load balancing equipment and other Internet appliances as you see fit, even to the extent of creating your own intranet and network.
The Need to be Free to Publish Content
Managed Hosting providers will typically have a lengthy and sometimes arbitrary list of what content they will not host on their service. This will apply no matter whether it is legal or not, and takedowns of content published to the web can be arbitrary and after-the-fact, leaving you with the setup costs of your deployment and nothing to show for it.
Colocation allows you freedom to publish whatever you want, or deliver any service you choose, as long as it is legal.
The Need for Freedom from Arbitrary Limitations
Managed Hosting providers must impose limitations on service – they have no choice. The reason is because they are hosting multiple customers, sometimes hundreds of thousands, they are unable to provide individual attention to each of them. At the same time they must ensure there is fair allocation of resources, such as bandwidth across all of their customers are they will start losing them.
Colocation allows you to be in full control of what services and limitations are deployed. If you need a dedicated telco line – no problem – more bandwidth, better firewalls and security, the ability to choose a specific vendor, hardware, software, and configuration – all are at your discretion. This frees your business from constraints imposed upon it from an external resource, as well as delivering incremental value for reduced costs going forward.