It’s hard to beat a good old-fashioned ‘Benjamin Franklin decision sheet when deciding whether to colocate your IT systems. The idea is simple.

On one side of your sheet of paper or iPad screen, you list the pros – and the good reasons for doing it. On the other side, the cons – why you’d want to think twice.

Then, count and compare to see if the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa. Below is a version to help you make up your mind.

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Colocate Your IT Systems – the Pros

Colocation with a competent, reputable provider can offer several advantages over putting your systems on your own premises or using purely cloud-based services.

  1. Network bandwidth is typically more abundant. Colocation facilities are built with connectivity in mind and can also offer choices in telco and network providers.
  2. Protection against outages is often higher than for systems installed at individual users’ sites. Extensive battery backup and emergency generator capabilities with redundant network links are part of the package in colocation.
  3. Security is also often higher. Only specifically authorized personnel can access a colocation facility, compared to individual office environments where IT and non-IT staff mingle.
  4. You maintain ownership and control of your hardware and software. For business-specific and legacy applications, this may be a crucial aspect. Database applications on which an enterprise depends do not always run on later versions of machines or operating systems. If you cannot or do not want to move, you don’t have to.
  5. Office moves are unlikely to disrupt your colocation solution. It stays put and works while you move teams and departments around on your corporate chessboard.


Colocate Your IT Systems – the Cons

While your systems may be perfectly safe in a colocation facility, they are also remote from your usual place or places of business.

  1. Getting started in a colocation center will mean costs in time, effort, and money to move systems into the center and ensure proper working.
  2. Hands-on maintenance will need to be done in the colocation data center. You won’t be able to walk down the corridor in your own offices to hook up an additional cable either. However, colocation centers often offer services for managing your hardware and software, which may be a better compromise.
  3. Access to your systems may be limited by the service hours defined by the colocation facility and your travel time. Depending on how you do your system backups, this delay factor may become an issue for business-critical systems.
  4. You won’t use the facilities you have on your own site. While you can repurpose the building space, it may not be easy to find new uses for the air conditioning, water cooling, or false flooring you used to need when you had your systems on your own premises.
  5. Monthly charges for colocation may vary, making budgeting a more challenging exercise. From the beginning, a clear understanding of what is included and what is a surcharge is important.

Now, you can take your pencil or stylus and underline the items that are the most important to you, whether pros or cons. That will give you a hint of whether colocation is right for you. A discussion with a provider can then help refine your decision.

How much has geographical distance affected your choice of a colocation provider? Tell us how you chose with a note below in the Comments section for this article.

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