Data Center Colocation: What You Need to Know About Customer and Provider Responsibilities

Data Center Colocation: What You Need to Know About Customer and Provider Responsibilities

June 22

As organizations mature and expand, they often outgrow their initial on-premises data solutions and increasingly look to colocation data centers as an efficient, scalable alternative. This shift, seen across diverse industries, comes from the understanding that colocation provides superior security, reliability, and cost-efficiency compared to managing their own facilities. However, it's important to remember that successful colocation engagements hinge on a dual commitment. Data center providers must fulfill their promise of a secure and reliable environment, while customers are responsible for diligent installation, maintenance, and monitoring of their systems. This synergy is key to a fruitful colocation partnership.

Colocation Data Center Provider Responsibilities

When evaluating a potential colocation partner, it’s important to understand what obligations that have to their customers. While this list is hardly exhaustive, it covers some of the key responsibilities that any good colocation data center should incorporate into their operations.

Provide a Secure, Reliable, and Compliant Facility

Colocation data center providers bear the responsibility of establishing robust infrastructure that ensures unparalleled security, reliability, and compliance. Not only should their facilities be capable of safeguarding sensitive client data from cyberthreats, but they should also provide resilience against physical intrusions and natural disasters. Additionally, colocation systems should adhere to rigorous compliance standards, ensuring operations meet or exceed regional and global regulations so that clients have confidence that their data is in capable hands.

Provide Power, Cooling, and Networking Infrastructure

Colo providers are expected to provide a data center environment that meets their customers’ operational and business needs. Their ecosystem must have the technology and redundancies in place to deliver uninterrupted power, ensure efficient cooling to mitigate overheating, and establish robust network connectivity. These elements are crucial for maintaining the optimum performance and longevity of clients' IT assets within the facility.

Perform Routine Maintenance and Repairs

Routine data center maintenance and repairs are a key responsibility of colocation providers. They must continually scrutinize and service the facility's infrastructure to ensure it operates at peak efficiency and delivers optimal performance. From inspecting power supplies and cooling systems to fine-tuning network equipment, these preventive measures help mitigate potential disruptions, ensuring a smooth operational environment for their tenants' IT endeavors.

Monitor the Environment for Potential Threats

Colocation providers are expected to maintain vigilant surveillance of the data center environment to identify and address potential threats. This includes the persistent monitoring of both internal systems and external factors that could disrupt operations. Providers must employ sophisticated tools and techniques to preemptively detect, identify, and neutralize threats ranging from cyberattacks and power surges to equipment failures and natural disasters.

Respond to Incidents and Outages

In the event of incidents or outages, colocation data center providers present the first line of defense in any business continuity strategy. They need to possess a thorough and rapid incident response protocol that can swiftly address any issue to minimize downtime. Providers should also have contingency plans in place to restore services promptly in order to mitigate the impact on customer operations and uphold their Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Provide Customer Support

As a service provider, colocation data centers are expected to provide outstanding support to their tenants. This includes delivering around-the-clock assistance to clients, resolving their queries, and addressing any issues that may arise. A proactive, responsive, and expert support system not only aids in resolving technical challenges, but also fosters a strong relationship between the provider and its clients, which enhances overall customer experience and satisfaction.

Colocation Data Center Customer Responsibilities

Migrating assets into a colocation data center may make it easier and more cost effective for organizations to manage their tech stack, but they still need to take an active role in overseeing the systems that support their business. Here are some of the most important responsibilities facing data center customers:

Install and Maintain Their Own Equipment

When migrating assets into a colocation data center, customers typically shoulder the responsibility of installing and maintaining their own equipment within the provided space. Unless the provider is leasing out servers and storage devices, hardware is most often procured, set up, and managed by the client. Colocation customers take responsibility for the upkeep of their resources and ensuring their IT assets continue to function optimally, including making regular checks for wear and tear, addressing hardware issues, and updating obsolete components. Some customers, however, choose to purchase remote hands services from their provider to handle these tasks.

Configure and Manage Their Own Systems

Colocation customers are also typically responsible for the configuration and management of their systems. This means they are in charge of setting up their servers and networking equipment in a way that suits their unique operational needs. From assigning IP addresses to managing traffic flow and load balancing, customers have to tailor their systems to ensure they deliver the desired performance and functionality. Their colocation provider, however, will often offer guidance and support to ensure that they’re getting the most out of the data center’s resources.

Monitor Their Own Systems for Performance and Security

Although colocation providers handle a lot of performance and security issues, customers still need to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring their systems. Keeping an eye on the performance of their hardware and software allows them to identify and address any inefficiencies promptly. On the security front, colocation customers should always monitor their own systems for cyberthreats and implement the necessary defense mechanisms to protect their data to create an extra layer of defense atop the data center’s security measures.

Back Up Their Data

Despite the high level of security and reliability offered by colocation data centers, it’s still a good idea for customers to back up their data regularly. Whether they’re employing cloud storage, using additional hard drives, or other backup systems, safeguarding data against potential losses due to hardware failures, cyberattacks, or other disruptions is a critical responsibility that customers cannot overlook. Fortunately, many colocation providers offer access to disaster recovery solutions to ensure that data and application workloads are protected to ensure business continuity.

Update Their Software

Whether they’re leasing hardware or using their own servers, data center customers are responsible for keeping their software up-to-date. This includes regular updates of operating systems, applications, security software, and other critical systems that drive their operations. By ensuring their software is always current, clients can benefit from the latest features, improved performance, and stronger security measures.

Report Any Problems to the Data Center Provider

Colocation customers should always report any issues they encounter within the facility or with the services provided to their data center provider. Whether it's an environmental anomaly like unusual heat or humidity, a power issue, or a security concern, swift communication allows the provider to address the problem quickly, minimizing the risk of damage, security breaches, or system downtime.

5 Tips for Ensuring a Smooth Colocation Experience

Understanding the respective responsibilities of a colocation agreement is vital for a successful partnership. When preparing to execute a data center migration, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind that can help ensure a smooth colocation experience for years to come. 

1. Do Your Research and Choose a Reputable Data Center Provider

Gathering information about providers before making a decision can significantly enhance your colocation experience. Conduct thorough research and select a reputable data center provider that boasts a track record of exceptional performance, high client satisfaction, and rigorous security standards. Be sure to take into account their geographical location, services, compliance certifications, and reliability to ensure they align with your business needs and goals.

2. Get Everything in Writing, Including the Colocation Agreement

Documentation is important for providing clarity and serves as a vital reference in the event of a misunderstanding or dispute. Make sure that every aspect of your colocation journey, especially  SLA obligations, is documented and signed by both parties. This written agreement should detail the relationship’s terms, conditions, responsibilities, and services, acting as the guiding charter for your partnership with the data center provider.

3. Ask Questions and Get Clarification on Anything You Don't Understand

Open communication channels foster transparency and trust. If there are aspects of the colocation agreement, the facility, or the services that seem vague or confusing, don't hesitate to pose questions and seek clarification. The more you understand, the smoother your colocation experience will be, and the less likely you are to encounter unpleasant surprises in the future.

4. Communicate with the Data Center Provider Regularly

Frequent communication with your data center provider is the secret to a successful colocation partnership. Regular updates, whether they involve operational changes, growth plans, or potential issues, can enable the provider to better support your needs. Remember, your data center provider is a partner in your success, and consistent, open dialogue is vital for effective collaboration.

5. Be Proactive in Monitoring Your Systems and Reporting Any Problems

Vigilance is a virtue that pays serious dividends in the colocation world. Monitor your systems continually for performance, security, and any anomalies that may indicate potential problems. If you spot an issue, report it immediately to your provider. Proactive problem-solving not only mitigates risk but also ensures the longevity and optimum performance of your IT assets within the data center.

Begin Your Colocation Journey with Evoque

When the time comes to migrate your critical IT assets to a colocation data center, you need a partner that provides not just world-class facilities, but also strategic guidance based on years of expertise. Evoque Data Center Solutions offers an expansive network of colocation facilities across North America supported by a team of seasoned consulting professionals ready to guide your organization from an outdated on-premises setup to an advanced, scalable solution designed to support your future growth.

If you're ready to learn more about our application-centric approach and take the first steps in your data center migration journey, talk to one of our colocation experts today.


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