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Colocation providers offer housing, power, cooling and security, but colocation also poses the drawback of slower response times during a data center outage. Organizations that use colocation must carefully plan where to store important data and pay attention to service-level agreements to minimize the effects of data center outages at colocation facilities.
Consider an on-premises data center. The company owns the facility and equipment, builds and maintains the infrastructure, employs and allocates the staff, implements policies and procedures, and sets the priorities needed to remediate any outages. When trouble strikes, business leaders know who to call, there is ample notification and the staff can focus on the business's interests.
For colocation contracts, this direct control is ceded to the service provider, who is responsible for troubleshooting and maintaining contact with the organization.
Troubleshooting both on and off premises
The first step following any data center outage is to identify the nature of the failure. It could be a fault in the server, storage or other business-owned infrastructure. If that is the case, the business must remediate the problem -- not the provider. If the business has monitoring and reporting tools, the staff can receive word of the issue in a timely manner.
The challenge is more pronounced in colocation situations in which the provider supplies the facility as well as the infrastructure equipment and maintenance staff. This means the organization never touches the facility; providers handle outage notification, troubleshooting and remediation all within the terms delineated in a service-level agreement.
In some cases, it might take many hours for the staff to reach the remote colocation site for any necessary physical repairs. At best, the loss of direct control over the environment can be nerve-wracking. At worst, businesses using service providers can experience extended and costly downtime.
Mitigating uncertainty in a data center outage
Colocation providers may introduce additional uncertainty and complexities for organizations. Facilities in remote areas may be subject to geopolitical uncertainty and greater security issues. The provider's desire to manage costs may trim the support staff, potentially lowering its response capabilities. Mergers and acquisitions can also disrupt the provider's management staff, possibly affecting the provider's day-to-day operations and responses to support requests.
Admins can mitigate these concerns by making conscientious decisions about workloads and architecting a backup and disaster recovery framework to blunt the effect of any outages. For example, a mission-critical workload might best be kept in the local data center, while other important workloads running remotely may employ clustering, snapshots and documentation tools.
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