Colocation Hosting Primer Making the Business and IT Case for Colocation

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1 Where every interation matters. Colocation Hosting Primer Making the Business and IT Case for Colocation White Paper February 2012 By: Peer 1 Hosting Product Team

2 Contents Overview 3 Why outsource hosting rather than doing it in-house? 3 The challenges posed by in-house hosting 4 Colocation features 5 Colocation Why, when and how 5 What to look for in a colocation facility and provider 6 Conclusion 6 WHITE PAPER: COLOCATION HOSTING PRIMER 2

3 White Paper Overview Colocation is an attractive alternative to both hosting servers and devices on the business premises and to leasing dedicated or managed servers. It combines the control associated with owning and managing devices with the cost effectiveness and superior infrastructure of a professionally managed datacenter. Here we explore the features and benefits of colocation compared to in-house and dedicated/managed hosting. Why outsource hosting rather than doing it in-house? Why businesses choose colocation 1. They are locked into owning their own hardware due to a capital expenditure financial model for IT. 2. They have highly customized configurations that require highly specialized expertise. 3. They are running special software and/or OS that is not supported by hosting providers. 4. They want to retain full access to their physical devices and employ a highly skilled and specialized IT staff. 5. They want to leverage a professional datacenter and its inherent performance benefits and scalability. In choosing either colocation or dedicated/managed hosting, businesses outsource the datacenter and networking responsibility to an ISP. In the case of dedicated/managed hosting, businesses also outsource the management of their devices to varying degrees. Both options free IT resources from the daily and long-term management of non-core IT functions and allows them focus upon the needs of the business and its customers and upon content management and data delivery. An ISP can cost effectively offer power, cooling and network redundancy, up-to-date infrastructure, higher availability and greater reliability through their technologies and expert, specialized staff. Professional datacenters are big often large enough to host upwards of 50,000 servers. Sheer size means ISPs can afford a high-grade infrastructure that is unavailable or impractical for businesses and regular commercial buildings. Economies of scale also translate into reduced pricing for commodities such as bandwidth and electricity. Efficient use of space further lowers the cost per hosted server. Dividing the cost between many clients makes hosting prices competitive. Off-site hosting uses short-term, renewable contracts, so reverting back to in-house hosting is always possible. In the meantime, the upfront expense of building, upgrading, expanding and maintaining a datacenter is replaced by a considerably lower and fixed monthly fee. The sav ings can be extended to the expertise needed to maintain, monitor and support the infrastructure and the devices, if you choose managed or dedicated hosting solutions. Table 1. When It s Time to Consider Colocation Servers have to reach global audiences with responsiveness and low latency. Scalability is essential for growth. Speed, stability and availability are critical for business performance. Cost savings on datacenter operations are sought. It is desirable to lower upfront capital expenses. A known, fixed, monthly payment is preferable to amortizing costs over several years. Datacenter expansion is difficult in the current location. The business lacks the infrastructure and/or trained personnel to run a datacenter. WHITE PAPER: COLOCATION HOSTING PRIMER 3

4 The challenges posed by in-house hosting Businesses serve a wide range of audiences, from employees in a single local facility or multiple locations to manufacturing staff, customers, partners and suppliers worldwide. They must keep mission critical servers and networks operational and accessible at all times. Server availability, reliability and fast response times require expensive infrastructure. Beyond high-quality servers and devices, continuous datacenter operation requires the following (in no particular order of significance): Physical space A dedicated room with racks, cabinets and cages for servers Specialized staff onsite 24x7x365 To monitor and manage the facility and network Networking gear Switches, network cables and routers Fast connection(s) To the Internet Replacement parts inventory Hard drives, network cards, cables, switches, routers, RAM memory, CPU units, motherboards, server power supplies, servers. Idle spare servers Connected to the network and ready to deploy Power for all servers and network devices With sufficient outlets, fuses and total power capacity for current use and future growth Voltage regulators To protect electronic equipment from spikes Redundant power, cooling and networking To ensure uptime with no single points of failure in the infrastructure Around the clock physical security and surveillance Strict protocols control access to facilities, cabinets and cages Humidity and dust control systems To protect devices from environmental factors and extend their lifetimes Fire suppression system adequate for servers (Type C for electric fires, preferably foam or gas, never water) Physical facility firewalls To protect equipment to mitigate fire damage in the facility Hardware monitoring To alert staff to server crashes, software glitches and malfunctions Monitoring of Internet connectivity (Speed, latency, intermittent bottlenecks) and of server and (internal) network performance Managing an active datacenter takes trained staff working in shifts to identify problems, respond quickly and return service to normal. Skilled professionals are required, including hardware (server) technicians, network specialists, server adminis trators and facilities engineers. Someone has to be on call around the clock to restart servers, replace damaged equipment, contact providers in case of power or network failure and maintain security. Commercial buildings typically have one Internet provider, one power supplier and no backup generators. These single points of failure mean that outages are only a matter of time. If the electric grid fails, as happens during winter storms, summer hurricanes, grid upgrades and repairs, or just by accident, the datacenter will be cut off, sometimes for days. Further challenges await when the datacenter grows. Space, power, cooling and bandwidth capacity in commercial buildings are limited, and increasing them is both slow and expensive. For example, adding a second fiber optic cable can take weeks, and upgrades to power and air control systems require building renovation, permits and inspections. WHITE PAPER: COLOCATION HOSTING PRIMER 4

5 Colocation features Colocation in a few words Colocation puts the owner of the devices in the driver s seat, with total access and complete control over the equipment, the ability to customize hardware and enjoy utmost flexibility and efficiency. Typically, it is most suitable for organizations with a skilled IT staff that can focus on managing the devices and software at all hours. With colocation, the ISP provides the required infrastructure, including physical space for servers (sometimes office space as well), power, network management, Internet connectivity, security and hardware monitoring. The customer owns and manages both server and device hardware and software, though additional technical and support services are often available from the ISP. Leading colocation facilities offer fully redundant, state-of-the-art infrastructure. Their network keeps the servers running and accessible at all times. Datacenters are designed to withstand almost any natural disaster and maintain business continuity under extreme conditions. In other words, colocated servers are faster, responsive and available to customers, improving the user experience, and reducing churn and lost sales. Colocation - Why, when and how Colocation is not an all-ornothing proposition Some providers enable you to run part of your outsourced hosting environment on a colocation platform and other parts in-house or on dedicated, managed or even public or private cloud platforms. Outsourcing hosting can save a business money and improve server performance. It is most attractive when the in-house datacenter needs expan sion and when scarce resources (space, power, bandwidth, personnel) are maxed out. Colocation, specifically, is the natural alternative over managed and dedicated hosting when using existing hardware and requiring complete physical control over servers. Colocation allows businesses to deploy their own servers, use equipment not available from an ISP, configure hardware any way they like, install software not supported by the provider and use existing licenses, instead of new and expensive datacenter licenses. Some of the advantages of colocating in a datacenter are (in no particular order of significance): Connectivity Datacenter bandwidth is cheap, fast and reliable. ISP networks and Internet connections have low latency, high throughput and wide reach. Bandwidth scaling Increasing bandwidth capacity is fast and cost effective, with no waits for local loop connections, no installation fees and better price per MBit. Scaling down is painless, too, because bandwidth contracts are short term and easy to modify. Unlimited growth potential Servers can be added without limit, without a cost premium and with minimal upfront expenses. Power and cooling Datacenters have plenty of power and cooling capacity. Unlike private datacenters, they don t run out of capacity and require expensive, disruptive renovations that take forever to complete. Staff quality Datacenters employ experienced, well-trained, network and facilities engineers, system administrators, server technicians and hosting specialists, which are beyond the scope of any single client. Support Technical services by the ISP solve temporary needs that do not justify hiring permanent staff and eliminate the need for expensive contractors. Security Devices are monitored and protected around the clock, without the costs and shift work of securing servers in-house. Reliability and availability Superior datacenter infrastructure and equipment redundancy minimize down time and performance bottlenecks. Costeffective servers are always on, always running and always accessible. Business continuity Datacenters are designed to withstand extreme weather and natural disasters. Colocation makes continued business operation more likely during service disruptions elsewhere. WHITE PAPER: COLOCATION HOSTING PRIMER 5

6 What to look for in a colocation facility and provider Not all colocation facilities offer the same quality infrastructure and services. Here are some things to consider when selecting a provider: About Peer 1 Hosting colocation services Peer 1 offers colocation in 16 wholly owned datacenters across the UK, US and Canada, leveraging its privately owned and operated FastFiber Network and peering relationships with over 1,500 networks and Tier 1 upstream providers to deliver the industry s best uptime and performance track record. Peer 1 Hosting colocation datacenters offer access to secured server cabinets and cages, live 24x7x365 NOC, multilayered security and technical support by experienced network engineers, server administrators and hosting professionals. The infrastructure performance is backed by 100% power and 100% network uptime SLAs. Peer 1 Hosting provides exceptional technical support, professional services and add-ons available to all its customers, including port monitoring, security scans, content delivery networks, SuperDNS and much more. Performance Look for facilities with a history of stable, uninterrupted service, and fast recovery in the event of network and datacenter outages. Network and bandwidth Both should be fast, with redundant equipment and high-quality upstream providers. Make sure the facility fares well in speed tests. Service quality A good reputation for technical service is desirable, backed by clear, concise service level agreements (SLAs) that are not full of loopholes in the provider s favor. Access to physical devices Use facilities that offer around-the-clock access to the hardware and short/no lead time. Security Both the facility and colocation cabinets and cages should be secured and have a clear security protocol for access. Location Proximity to IT staff is mandatory to access the servers on a regular basis, deployed in a local facility. To reach users in particular geographical locations, find a facility close to the target audience and make sure it provides technical support. If you plan to deploy servers in multiple locations, select an ISP with facilities in desirable geographical regions that are also close to Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). Additional services If you intend to use the facility s technical services, choose a provider with reputable, exceptional technical support that matches your anticipated needs. Monitoring Be clear that a Network Operations Center (NOC) is staffed to monitor the internal and external network and that datacenter engineers monitor facility performance 24x7x365 and both are staffed adequately to respond to alerts quickly. Data privacy To do business in the European Union, colocate inside the EU to comply with privacy regulations. To avoid US Patriot Act-authorized snooping while serving the US markets, host in Canada, which has strict privacy laws to prevent such intrusions. Network peering relationships For fast and wide reach, use a provider with good peering arrangements. To use a specific carrier, make sure your provider is peering with it or has upstream access to it. Some facilities have a meet me room or provide customers with direct and indirect data exchange mechanisms with carriers. Data protection To minimize virtual attacks, find an ISP that offers colocation clients intrusion protection, vulnerability scans, DDos attack mitigation, firewalls, data backup and restoration. Conclusion For those without the specialized in-house staff to manage their own servers and devices, colocation is an effective way to maintain complete control over server hardware and software at a fraction of in-house datacenter cost and related network and infrastructure support. With the added benefit of speed, stability, reliability, availability and continuity, it offers flexibility and scalability with minimal upfront investment, short-term contracts and affordable fixed monthly fees. Colocation also merits consideration whenever constructing, expanding or renovating an existing datacenter is required and when the requisite human or infrastructure resources are hard to find. For more information, call or Peer 1 Hosting. Call us to get started now / peer1.com WHITE PAPER: COLOCATION HOSTING PRIMER 6

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