Williams says that turning to a colocation provider -- Phoenix-based i/o Data Centers, in his case -- didn't require his firm to compromise on any facility services or amenities. "We expected all of the normal things that a high-tier data center would have in terms of backup power, generators and all of those things, as well as network connectivity," he says.
For his part, Burch feels that using a colocation provider -- his firm chose Columbia, S.C.-based Immedion -- allowed a faster, less costly deployment without sacrificing convenience or functionality. "We were able to get everything set up within a two-month period, and that included the building out of office space, even converting some office space into raised-floor data center space, which is pretty amazing."
Yet, finding a suitable colocation provider can be just as challenging as scouting a site for a traditional data center. "We looked at taking a building and converting it ourselves," Williams says. After deciding that overhauling a standalone building wouldn't be cost-effective, LexisNexis started looking for a colocation provider. "I would say that we probably spent six months searching for a site, and we probably looked at no less than 30 different locations and providers -- it was a very extensive search," Williams says.
Space can be at a premium
Then, too, colo space can be tight in some geographies, so expect to pay a premium in those areas. Tier1's Paschke explains that the economic slowdown and resulting credit crunch put the kibosh on a lot of data center capacity build-outs. That slowed down some of the colo vendors, of course, but it also meant that enterprises put their own data center expansion plans on hold. So nowadays, if customers choose to turn to colo vendors, they may find that there isn't quite as much data center space as they need.
This situation is, of course, very dependent on the geographic area involved. A recent Wall Street Journal article, for instance, talked about an oversupply in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. In general, though, many analysts point to an undersupply of colo space in key locations.
One reason this is important is because some shops opt to have their second data center near their main facility so they can stay close to their gear. Paschke calls these "server huggers" -- people who want to reach out and touch their servers, even though the goal in most data centers is to automate much, if not all, of the systems management. If your main facility is in a high-demand area, it might be difficult to find a nearby colo facility.