Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Colocation’s Changing Distance Factor

While many companies still use colo providers within 100 miles of their headquarters, evolution of technology, geographically dispersed users and better connectivity are impacting that scenario. Drew Leonard of SAVVIS weighs the outlook for colocation providers.

Industry Perspectives

October 2, 2012

3 Min Read
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Drew Leonard is vice president, colocation product management, at Savvis, a CenturyLink company, where he is responsible for colocation services.



Any real estate agent will tell you location determines the best property buys. And traditionally, IT managers have applied that same logic to choosing their colocation facilities.

Control and latency concerns have long kept data centers in-house or close to home. But mounting data storage needs, coupled with the efficiency and cost gains of colocation, have more organizations looking beyond the typical five-mile radius for service providers.

With the confines of location lifted, IT managers can benefit from colocation partners that address greater strategic priorities involving scalability, security and flexibility.

Expanding the Circle

Today’s IT leaders are much more willing to put their infrastructure in the trust of a third party, but that wasn’t always the case.

Each year, downtime costs businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue. This threat is understandably what drives many IT organizations to keep their servers as close to the home office as possible. Conventional logic held that if IT staff could quickly travel to the data-center facility to troubleshoot the problem, operations would come back online faster, minimizing interruptions and expense.

But the IT manager’s concentric ring of potential colocation providers is expanding as infrastructure requirements mount, user bases disperse geographically and bandwidth consumption skyrockets.

Ironically, downtime fears are also leading some IT organizations to colocation. In the case of disaster planning, for example, farther is better – and often a regulatory requirement for industries such as finance – for ensuring quick and seamless recovery.

To provide the same level of experience to users regionally, nationally and globally, IT leaders must look beyond the data center on the corner to strategic players that can be colocation partners, managed service providers and cloud strategists offering flexible solutions for growing their businesses.

IT organizations are increasingly realizing this, and based on positive experiences in relying on third parties for disaster recovery, they’re progressively streamlining their infrastructure to colocation providers situated 50-plus miles away.  And in the process, they’re finding colocation providers that can handle their equipment for them, minimizing the need for visiting the data center.

The Latency Caveat

Latency concerns can also limit IT organizations from choosing colocation providers that meet their strategic needs.

Low latency is critical in the world’s financial markets, but for many other business environments, a few hundred miles of distance will create mostly unnoticeable delay.

For those latency-sensitive organizations, the closest data center may not always be the best choice. Companies engaged in global trading, for example, can keep their data nearby, but they don’t necessarily need to take a fragmented approach when choosing colocation facilities. Often a single colocation provider operating data centers in strategic locations worldwide can provide additional cloud and managed services across the board.

Driving the Distance

The need for greater efficiency and focus on core business is compelling enterprise clients to grow the distance between their offices and their third-party data centers.

Many companies test out colocation with non mission-critical IT workloads that are easily outsourced and allow in-house IT staff to focus on more pressing priorities. Once a third-party provider establishes a solid track record, companies are more likely to streamline additional workloads.

While the majority of today’s companies still operate within an easy, 100-mile driving range of their data centers, the tide is turning. This is promising news for enterprises wanting to reap the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of comprehensive colocation.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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