by Ben Brown, 4D Data Centres, www.4d-dc.com
Lots of things can conspire to slow business expansion, and one of the biggest brakes on growth is IT
When your business reaches a certain size, you tend to end up with a lot of budget and resource tied up in housing, managing and maintaining your servers. That’s budget and resource that, in an ideal world, you could release to re-invest in growth initiatives.
You might think that a growing IT estate is a necessary cost of being an expanding and successful business. But actually, there’s a very simple strategy to reduce those levels of cost and resource and free your business to grow. It’s called colocation, and we’re going to look at four ways it can help you achieve your business goals.
What is colocation?
Colocation is when you install your servers in a professionally managed data centre, rather than on your own premises. So instead of having to find space in your own building, pay for expensive cooling, and handle the maintenance of your servers, you pay an external provider to do it for you as part of a colocation service.
High-speed network connections between your premises and their data centre give you rapid access to your servers and storage, just as if they were installed in your own office. Companies of all sizes choose colocation as a strategy because it delivers four major benefits:
1. Free up
On-site servers can be one of the largest costs for a growing business. From employing skilled technicians and powering your servers, to ensure they’re kept at a steady temperature, on-site servers can demand a high budget – preventing you from investing in other key growth areas. In fact, powering and cooling a data centre is a huge drain on businesses around the world:
- Global data centres used 416.2 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2015 – more than the UK’s total electricity consumption
- Data centres consume about 3% of global electricity supply
- On average, a single rack in an on-premises data centre costs $120K over 10 years
By colocating your infrastructure in an external data centre, you can avoid many of these costs while still having the IT resources you need to grow
2.Create space to grow
Expanding your business often means you need to find more space to house your growing team. Looking for new premises can be costly and disruptive – even assuming you can easily find somewhere suitable. But if you have a room or floor that’s currently housing your IT equipment, colocation can enable you to free up that space for more people, more storage or more facilities. You’ll save on the costs of finding and moving to new premises, as well as enjoying all of the additional cost savings that come from moving your IT infrastructure off-site.
3. Keep your applications up and running
Your business relies on critical applications like your website and your core business software systems being up and running and operating at peak performance. But plenty of things can happen in your server room to stop that from happening. Power outages, UPS backups running dry, servers can suddenly go slow, and your technicians need a day off now and then.
By colocating to a shared data centre, you’re installing your servers in a professionally managed environment, increasing their uptime and reliability. With a unified purpose of keeping infrastructure up and running, shared data centres are able to do a lot of things individual businesses can’t:
- They have teams of skilled engineers to provide expert management and support 24/7/365
- They have multiple backup generators, ensuring your service isn’t interrupted
- They have additional backup sites to ensure your data can be restored in an emergency
4. Maximise data security and compliance
Data security is something every business owner is aware of, but keeping current with security risks and ensuring your data is protected can be a big drain on time, budget and resources. And when the flip side is the possibility of security breaches, fines, reputational damage and business downtime, you may feel you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
No business wants to experience what happened to TalkTalk in 2015 – when a security breach cost the telecoms provider 101,000 customers and approximately £60M. Now that there are new data handling rules like GDPR, compliance is also an increasingly prominent concern.
By using colocation, you can shift the security and compliance burden to a shared services provider with data security expertise – and avoid the risks of non-compliance or a costly data breach. Far from just shifting responsibility, a shared data centre can completely transform your security, with many providers offering:
- Round the clock security protecting the building
- Locked cabinets and alarms to keep individual racks safe
- Top-of-the-line firewalls and encryption to protect your data and simplify compliance
The real-world benefits of colocation
When you have the ambition and the opportunity to grow your business, you don’t want IT to slow you down. By moving your on-site IT infrastructure to a colocation provider, you can reduce costs, scale seamlessly, boost uptime, and mitigate security and compliance risks.