When you first started your business, a single server was enough to meet the demands of your network. The unused closet next to the break room worked fine as a “server room.”
But you’re business has grown — and along with it, the demands on your servers. The closet that once efficiently stored everything is no longer adequate, and you’ve been shuffling employees around to make more space for servers and other hardware. Not to mention, you probably have employees clamoring to work remotely, and your IT staff are stretched thin, to say the least.
If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to start looking into colocation, and migrating all of your servers and data to a remote data center that will better meet your needs. If you aren’t sure if it’s right for your business, ask yourself the following questions.
Do We Have Enough Physical Space?
Even in a virtualized environment, server racks and other hardware take up a significant amount of space. Because the equipment must be kept in a temperature controlled environment, you can’t just stick the servers in the nearest available corner and call it good; you need a dedicated space with the appropriate temperature and airflow.
Not to mention, the average server isn’t exactly silent, meaning that while you may have been able to place one on a desk in the past, when you have several running, it’s likely to disturb employees. If you are running out of space, opting to collocate your servers might be a more affordable and practical option than moving your entire office.
Do We Have Room to Grow?
If you have any plans to expand your business in the future, can your server configuration and physical space handle the demands? You might be in a good place now space-wise, but what about in a year or two? Colocation services offer greater scalability in the long term, with the ability to add racks as necessary, without dealing with the hassle of expanding your office space.
Are Our Energy Costs Increasing?
Costs for just about everything are going up these days, but if you are noticing a significant spike in your office’s utility bills, your computer hardware could be to blame. Again, sensitive hardware needs to be kept cool in order to function properly, but the cost of maintaining the right temperature could be adding to your electric bill.
Colocation certainly isn’t free, but when you consider the additional benefits of sharing space with other businesses plus the reduced utility costs, it might be a more cost effective option.
Is Our Staff Capable of Managing Our Infrastructure?
Maintaining hardware, networks, storage and security can be overwhelming for a small IT staff. Large businesses may have the resources to hire large IT teams with specialized knowledge, but smaller businesses may only be able to support a small staff.
With so many competing priorities, a small business IT staff may not be able to manage every aspect of the network effectively, leading to security risks, downtime and equipment failure. If your business is growing but you cannot adequately support your technology needs, colocation at a data center that offers support and management services can help fill some of those gaps and lift some of the burdens from your staff, allowing them to focus on other priorities.
Are We Effectively Managing Security?
Security is a major issue these days, and some businesses struggle with meeting the demands of their customers and regulatory agencies. Collocating with a managed service provider can help lift some of the security burden from your shoulders. First, storing data offsite is important in some industries. Physical security at data centers is often more advanced than most offices, with 24 hour monitoring, restricted access protocols and even armed security. Not only does colocation protect data in the event of a physical security breach of the office, it can also help keep data safe from natural disasters. For example, if you’re located in a hurricane-prone region, locating your data center outside of the storm zone can help keep you online even without local utilities — and prevent data loss and damage from a storm.
In addition, data centers often offer a higher level of network security than the typical enterprise. You will certainly be required to provide your own security protocols, but a data center contract may include provisions for enhanced security, including compliance with federal mandates.
Colocation isn’t right for every business, but for those that are growing or that are already pushing the limits of their existing infrastructure, it might be a valid and effective solution for their networking needs.