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A case for colocation

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Everything we do today is driven by data – and it’s increasing. The total amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally reached an estimated 64.2 zettabytes in 2020, and is expected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025.

 The way we store, manage, and retrieve that data is changing, though. In the words of Gartner, the data centre is (almost) dead. 

This won’t come as a huge shock to most. After all, on-site data centres require a huge amount of energy, space, skills, and investment. They represent a significant – and largely unnecessary – risk for businesses of all sizes, especially for those SMEs that may only need small estates when they start out.

The truth is, businesses today don’t really need to own their own data centres. How can colocation support them in the search for a more flexible and reliable alternative?

Safe and convenient

There’s an element of risk in keeping critical storage and servers on a company’s premises. Indeed, you wouldn’t leave huge volumes of cash in your house. You could put your money in a safe, but what would happen when you have too much? You’d have to buy another safe. And that’s expensive and would take up a lot of room.  A more sensible option would be to put that cash in a bank – a specialist facility with the security, space, and skills that allow you to store, manage, and retrieve your money quickly, easily, and safely. So why aren’t we doing the same for our data?

As well as providing businesses with a safe and convenient way to store their data, colocation data centres offer a range of additional benefits. Imagine if you had to store every single penny you’ve ever owned or invested in your home – it just wouldn’t be feasible, you would have stacks of coins in the bathroom. Similarly, businesses no longer need to own and manage their own data centres, making concerns around physical space a thing of the past. The growth in remote and hybrid working practices during and since the pandemic has led many businesses to review their need for office space too. But with colocation as a viable alternative to on-site data centres, allocating space for racks and servers is one less consideration.

There are cost benefits to this, as well. Data centres require a large amount of capital-heavy infrastructure – not only for storage space, but also for reliable cooling and power. But using colocation will save on these costs, as well as on travel expenses. In the same way that we expect to access our money digitally on cards, or how easy it is to visit a local cash point rather than going into a bank for every withdrawal, with colocation exchanges throughout the UK, businesses can choose a location most convenient for their business.

Being in the driver’s seat of data  

Typically located in secure exchange buildings, colocation data centres allow businesses to retain full control over their data, with the ability to access it quickly and conveniently. With edge colocation at a provider’s exchanges, both businesses and their customers can be closer to their data, accessing it with significantly reduced latency.

And many provide server racks in their exchanges, in which a company can install its own hardware; a bespoke approach, designed to meet a company’s needs both now and in the future. Due to the scalability this affords, companies have no need to worry about running out of storage – or storage space – as they grow.

Of course, given the value a business places in its data, reliability is also a key concern. Fortunately, the extremely high standards of availability, security, and connectivity in a colocation centre mean businesses can be fully confident that their data is safe and accessible around the clock, and that any problems which arise will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Colocation servers are primed for disaster recovery as well. One would expect a bank to have security measures in place to protect your cash, and similarly, each centre has multiple safety and security processes to ensure a company’s critical data is protected at all times. Uninterruptible power supplies and on-site generators offer resilience in the event of an outage, for example, thereby minimising the risk of downtime while, in addition to the physical security and fire protection measures you’d expect in a physical data centre, robust network security is employed to guard data from attempted cyber attacks.

Efficient and cost-effective

We generate and use an increasingly large volume of data, all of which must be properly stored and managed. But, according to Gartner, 80% of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centres. In fact, 10% have already done so. Businesses today have neither the space nor the budget to manage them on-site.

It’s seen by many now as being more efficient and cost-effective to employ a third-party provider to host it on their behalf. Rather than keeping their cash in a growing number of safes around their house, companies are putting it instead into – an often local – bank. And, just as banks do with our money, colocation data centres offer businesses a safe, convenient, and flexible way to store and access their valuable data.

Picture of Ian Cottingham
Ian Cottingham
Wholesale Specialist Director at BT Wholesale

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