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Understanding Scalability In Colocation

Understanding Scalability In Colocation


For many businesses, one of the main attractions of colocation is that it offers a high level of scalability. The inherent scalability in colocation may be enough for their core needs. If it isn’t, however, there are usually straightforward ways to expand it even further. Here is a quick guide to what you need to know.

Understanding colocation

Colocation is the provision of managed data center infrastructure. The colocation service provider handles all the practicalities of managing a data center. Businesses lease or rent private space in that data center and use that space to house their own equipment.

Most colocation facilities allow businesses to choose between racks and cages. Racks are more economical than cages but have less scope for customization. Using a cage also provides an extra layer of security. This can be useful for meeting the requirements of stricter compliance programs.

Some colocation facilities allow businesses the option of using a suite. This is essentially a mini data center within the main data center. Suites give clients the highest level of control over their use of colocation. This means they can be heavily customized and implement the most robust security measures.

Understanding scalability

Horizontal scaling refers to adjusting the level of available resources. Vertical scaling refers to adjusting the capacity of existing resources. For example, adding a new server to a cluster would be horizontal scaling. Adding extra memory to an existing server would be vertical scaling.

Both horizontal and vertical scaling can be implemented through hardware or software. In general, hardware-based scaling tends to be used for changes that are expected to have a longer-term impact. Software-based scaling tends to be used for dynamic changes.

For example, a growing company may use hardware-based scaling to expand its resources as it wins new business. It will, however, almost certainly still use software-based scaling to cope with short-term peaks in traffic.

Scalability in colocation

When assessing scalability in colocation, the two most obvious points of reference are on-premises data centers and public cloud services.

Colocation facilities are vastly more scalable than on-premises data centers. They are not as scalable as public cloud services but they do offer benefits that compensate for this. These are cost-effectiveness, customization, and confidentiality.

Cost-effectiveness: As a rule of thumb, the more data a business stores and/or processes, the more cost-effective it becomes to do that processing internally rather than in a public cloud. This is particularly relevant for businesses that operate over wide geographical areas. These businesses are likely to find themselves working across cloud zones. This can get very expensive very quickly.

Customization: Since businesses have full control over the hardware they use, they can customize it as they see fit. This means they can ensure that applications and services are hosted in environments that enable them to operate at peak efficiency.

Confidentiality: Reputable public cloud vendors implement robust security. In fact, many of them can now comply with mainstream data security standards (e.g. PCI/DSS). At the end of the day, however, using public cloud services means keeping data on third-party-owned equipment in a shared environment. By contrast, using colocation enables businesses to keep their own data on their own servers in a private environment.

Expanding scalability in colocation

Colocation itself supports both horizontal and vertical scaling. If, however, businesses want (or need) to expand the scalability in colocation, it is generally easy for them to do so.

Most colocation facilities have default support for integrating with public cloud services. In fact, many colocation facilities can now support multiple cloud integrations. These can be used for both horizontal scaling but are more commonly used for vertical scaling. For example, many businesses leverage public cloud services to handle spikes in traffic.

It’s also becoming increasingly common for colocation facilities to support integrations with edge computing systems. They may even provide the infrastructure for clients to deploy them. Edge computing is a way to increase horizontal scaling while also improving the speed of data transfer between the host and the end user.

Leveraging geographic distribution

Astute use of geographic distribution can also be used to expand the effective scalability in colocation. For example, businesses can use colocation to distribute their IT resources in a way that reflects the distribution of their users/customers. This enables them to maximize the quality of their service delivery without having to pay for extra resources.

Another option is to use different colocation facilities as backups for each other. This approach can enable businesses to develop robust disaster-recovery infrastructure without paying for it to be idle most of the time.

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