Location, location, location – choosing your colocation datacentre

man looking at colocation data centre

If you are in the market for colocation, you will have seen advertisements for datacentres all around the country, or even internationally. Colocation, in essence, is making arrangements to house your hardware, software and data to a 3rd party datacentre. As you may already know, the expense of maintaining an IT infrastructure is significant and comes with many responsibilities such as security, climate control and maintenance. So where should your colocation datacentre be located?

While this might seem like a simple question to answer, it isn’t.  The matter of how close an organisation should be from their chosen colocation data centre remains highly debatable even today.

There are two prevailing sentiments regarding the matter. One is to select a colocation data centre that is just close enough that you can get to your servers quickly in the event of an emergency. Of course, if the primary concern for setting up colocation is for disaster recovery, then another school of thought is to choose a data centre that is as far away from your place of business and densely populated areas as possible. That way, the chances of your colocated server being subjected to the same disaster that might affect your organisation is unlikely.

The benefit of proximity

If your organisation has invested in its’ own on-premise IT infrastructure, then switching to an offsite solution can be difficult. There may be existing contracts, legacy devices, personnel and other expenditures or commitments that need to be considered. It is due to these factors and the growing needs of your enterprise that SMEs might want to keep their colocation service provider closer.

In many cases, the business decision to co-locate one’s IT infrastructure might be geared towards disaster recovery. As such, your staff needs to be able to get into the facility to run disaster recovery drills and oversee the proper implementation of failovers as well as redundancy systems. This can be difficult if your colocation service provider is too far away. Keep in mind that air travel might be restricted during a disaster. The longer it takes for you to get to the facility, the longer your organisation has to wait before disaster recovery plans can be put to place. 

Minimising latency

On the technical side of things, what makes the location a significant factor for choosing the right colocation is the issue with latency. Regardless of how you configure your IT infrastructure, latency will remain a limiting factor especially for organisations that require synchronous replication of server data and applications.

Latency is simply a product of physics. The speed at which data travels back and forth is limited to the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s). On paper, this sounds incredibly fast but not when you are dealing with hundreds of Terabytes worth of data, and intermediary ISP networks. Hence the more distant your chosen colocation data centre, the higher the risk of latency becoming an issue.

According to a study by Gartner, at a distance of more than 60 miles, even with tuning capabilities, latency issues will begin to impact performance. To achieve a latency of less than 1 ms, organisations need to choose a colocation service provider that is no further than 93 miles from their place of business.

The case to be made for distance

The possibility of a significant disaster impacting one’s place of business highlight the need for isolating major IT infrastructure. When it comes to a disaster recovery policy, business continuity is referred to as RPO (Recovery Point Objective). The time it takes for your IT staff to fully restore your IT infrastructure following a disaster is referred to as RTO (Recovery Time Objective).

Keeping your colocation service provider close can significantly reduce RTO. Keep them too close, however, and the same disaster might end up taking out both your primary and backup systems.

Conclusion

The bottom line here is that there is no definite answer as to how close you should be to your chosen datacentre colocation. Before deciding on a particular colocation service provider, one needs to consider the advantages and disadvantages and how they relate to the needs of the organisation.

The goal is to find a colocation that offers the level of service, security and environment in the markets that make the most sense for your requirements. Only then can you expect to find a solution and a colocation partner that suits your current and future needs.

Intergrid operates a total of 7 colocation datacentres across Australia and New Zealand. We serve thousands of businesses within a few hundred miles of our tier-one data centres with minimal latency.  As all of our data centres are located near business districts, we make it easy for our clients to get real-time disaster recovery and optimal computing performance for extensive data applications. Get in touch with us today to learn more.