Colocation is enjoying strong growth and is an important area of business for data centre operators, especially Internet and cloud providers. By operating their customers’ servers directly within their own data centres, these providers offer companies a better link to the necessary Internet and cloud resources. Customers are also spared the expense of running their own data centres and the associated IT infrastructures. In data centres, however, this configuration places particularly high demands on racks, power supplies, climate control, network connections, reliability and monitoring.
Colocation creates a win-win situation for data centre operators and their customers
Some servers and storage systems belonging to a company are not even located on its own business premises. They are accommodated elsewhere – in the data centre of the telecommunications provider supplying the cloud and Internet connection, for instance. In this case, physical operation of the company’s IT systems takes place at an external location. This is known as “colocation” or “server housing”.
Colocation solutions often form part of hybrid cloud concepts in which companies combine their own private cloud infrastructure with a public cloud. This concept offers customers several advantages. Their systems are linked directly to their cloud or Internet provider’s infrastructure and network elements, and they can save themselves the expense of providing and running the necessary environments on their own premises. Consequently, colocation has now become an important area of business for companies operating all kinds of data centres.
The actual arrangement varies. In the case of retail colocation, the customer rents a relatively small, restricted space in a data centre – rack modules or an entire rack, for example. When using the wholesale colocation model, the provider normally leases out larger units. Often, these are combined with other services, or aspects of the infrastructure are tailored to the requirements of (large) customers. In both cases, the data centre is responsible for the power supply, climate control and, if necessary, monitoring. The physical and IT security of the systems accommodated is another key issue. Depending on customer requirements, this can go as far as operating the hosted systems in their own sealed-off areas of the data centre and protecting them with elaborate access control features. Colocation providers must use appropriate technical solutions to ensure a guaranteed level of security for their customers and must provide the necessary proof.
Colocation environments require long-term planning
The rack systems used for colocation services must be designed specifically for the relevant circumstances. If several customers are sharing one server rack, compartment racks are recommended. In the event of sole use by a single customer, on the other hand, conventional server and network racks are adequate. In both cases, details count. Quick and easy installation and expansion of the rack systems is a must, for instance. To keep a rack’s entire capacity available for the customer systems installed there, height units should not be used for cable routing, cooling or power supply purposes. The necessary interfaces to overarching climate control systems and for monitoring purposes must also be available. Since systems of this kind represent a long-term investment, they must be planned and implemented looking far into the future.
Rittal is familiar with and satisfies all colocation requirements
A great many colocation service providers work with Rittal. They do so because our top-quality solutions maximise availability, ensure reliable production and logistics, and meet all the relevant international standards. The entire RiMatrix system and the compartment rack product line geared specifically to colocation meet the high demands of data centre operators and their customers relating to racks for use in colocation applications.