5 Qualities to Look for in a Colocation Provider

Housing your company’s valuable data and applications at a data center is arguably one of the biggest management decisions that one can undertake. Essentially, you are entrusting your provider with the equipment that subsumes a large part, if not all, of the infrastructure your business is built upon. That said, with careful planning and sufficient awareness, there is every reason to expect your business to flourish by choosing a stellar colocation provider.

There are several critical factors that you have to consider when looking for the ideal colocation service. As with every decision related to the continued success of your business, you need to be as informed as possible before you make your choice. Colocation is comprised of many different aspects that either work in perfect unison to provide you with a secure, reliable and fair service, or become the ingredients of a recipe for disaster that few can recover from.

The main goal of this article is to provide you with in-depth information on the crucial aspects that separate the excellent colocation services from those that leave something to be desired. We aim to provide you with comprehensive explanations that are seldom found in other sources, and yet are integral in making the right choice. Below, we have outlined the top 5 qualities you should take into account when searching for the best colocation provider. Let’s get started.

1 – Ensure you are not going with a “lights off” facility

The business world has evolved rapidly in the past decade. Looking to the future, there are no signs of it slowing down, either – in fact, it’s evolving as you’re reading this and the only guarantee is business will become even more demanding and multifaceted as time passes. But you already knew that. What you may not be aware of is that it applies in full force when it comes to colocation. Your server equipment is the lifeline of your trade, and it’s no secret that challenges and obstacles are an inseparable part of the process. This is why you need to make sure you can count with the full support you need and deserve, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Let’s take a look at the facts. Twenty percent of all support tickets are made in non-business hours. Almost a quarter of them are usually severe alerts. As the name suggests, these notifications are extremely urgent and need to be acted upon immediately. They take top priority and require the presence of on-site support engineers that monitor the situation and resolve arising issues. Precision and efficiency are key here, as every minute wasted is a minute where your business is threatened.

You won’t find a decent colocation provider that doesn’t offer tech support – it’s all but mandatory nowadays. However, many don’t go the extra mile in providing you with 100% dedicated, on-site support. Instead, they often talk about how their assistance is located “just a drive away”, or they try to pass its proximity to their colocation service as some sort of benefit. In many cases, you don’t even get that much – it’s common for support departments to be outsourced.

The importance of true on-site support cannot be stressed enough. It provides you with dedicated people whose one and only concern is the smooth operation of your colocated data and equipment. When the most important parts of your business are in a remote location, there is no greater relief than knowing you have chosen a capable provider that will not only take care of space and storage, but will go the extra mile in providing outstanding, round-the-clock support on location. At QuadraNet, we have true 24/7 on-site support. You can rest assured that if your business encounters any server-related issues, we are only a phone call away to help resolve the situation in a fast and efficient manner.

By choosing QuadraNet’s colocation services you can be sure of the following

  1. We do not outsource any of our support channels
  2. Support is always on-site, ensuring your peace of mind that you are reaching out to qualified professionals that will provide the assistance you deserve
  3. We offer full 24/7/365 support coverage, meaning we are always available to you

 

2 – DDoS protection

Unfortunately, cyberattacks have become a regular occurrence. It seems that not a single day passes without reports of some kind of a high-profile attack in various media outlets. Recent events such as the WannaCry ransomware attack further demonstrate how susceptible the digital world is to malicious online activities on a large scale. The point is, simply having the available resources to eliminate issues as they arise is not nearly enough – especially when dealing with smaller, more frequent cyberattacks that can inflict irreparable damage to your business.

DDoS (short for distributed denial of service) attacks make up a large percentage of cyberattacks on businesses of all sizes. Rather expensive to create, but easy to execute, DDoS attacks operate under a simple method – they shut down your web services by overwhelming them with traffic. The distributed part means the attack is simultaneously executed by a number of different sources. Contrary to the general purpose of most cyberattacks, which is to hijack sensitive data, DDoS attacks aim to obstruct access to your website or service, which in itself comes with many negatives apart from costing you money. Furthermore, DDoS deployments have been known to serve as distractions for more sinister activities, like taking down firewalls, for example.

The impact of DDoS on your business can be devastating, whether they target the main server infrastructure or exploit protocol vulnerabilities. Surveys show an alarming trend that has been observed since 2014 – intrusions are becoming more prevalent, their level of sophistication is increasing and the costs associated with them are reaching higher and higher numbers. To put things in perspective, almost half of North American companies in various industries, such as software, technology and finance, have been hit DDoS at some point, with around 49% of the attacks lasting between 6 and 24 hours. Costs vary, but rough estimates are anywhere between $50,000 to even $100,000 an hour.

This is exacerbated by the compound nature of the damage DDoS attacks inflict: crucial aspects such as security, customer service and risk management are also negatively affected, which results in even more losses for your business.

All of the above serves to highlight the importance of having impeccable DDoS protection for your network. Nobody wants to suffer losses in revenues and consumer confidence, or endure excruciating periods of downtime – these combine in the perfect storm that your business may never recuperate from. We at QuadraNet understand the unpleasant consequences of DDoS attacks, which is why we have developed our VEST DDoS protection to combat them effectively. We have taken a proactive approach, utilizing a multi-layer scrubbing process that detects DDoS attacks in their initial phase as Internet traffic is heading inbound towards your network. VEST kicks in while the bad traffic is still easily manageable, filtering it and ensuring your equipment continues work at optimal capacity.

We firmly believe that advanced DDoS protection should be included as part of the package – for this reason, our 3Gbps VEST DDoS protection comes standard with all servers. Your options don’t end here, though: we offer Always-On protection and Dedicated DDoS solutions as well, with multiple features that further enhance safety measures. In short, by choosing QuadraNet, you are fully shielded from the potentially catastrophic problem that are DDoS attacks.

 

3 – Bandwidth Availability

Moving on from the mechanisms that prevent things from going wrong, let’s talk about an aspect that provides the required performance so that your colocated server runs just right. Of course, it’s bandwidth.

Bandwidth is a factor that is equally important for business and consumer. On your end in particular, you need fast and dependable data transfer for your web hosting needs – after all, providing quick, hassle-free browsing of your sites is a key element and probably one of the main reasons you gave thought to data center hosting in the first place. Today, the overwhelming amount of graphics and other resource-intensive features in most websites have dramatically accelerated the demand for higher port speeds. As you well know, the type of website being opened can have a huge impact on your bandwidth – as such, when it comes to colocation you need to make sure you cover all your bases with a premium network, custom-built for high performance.

While speed is important, it isn’t everything. In fact, it’s barely anything if the infrastructure behind it is dated and sub-optimal. Naturally, we come back to potential issues. Minimizing risks is imperative when talking about bandwidth, which is why choosing a multi-homed network is crucial. But what is “multihoming”? In the simplest of terms, it’s the process of connecting your server to multiple networks. In doing so, you eliminate a vast array of problems, commonly called SPOF (single point of failure) network problems. This not only guarantees uptime in case one network goes down, but also increases performance and cuts costs by quite a margin thanks to the efficient routing mechanisms in place.

It goes without saying that not every provider out there delivers the ultimate bandwidth package that combines speed, reliability and efficiency. We at QuadraNet take pride in providing our customers with our very own high-performance multihomed network, tailored to perfection thanks to over fifteen years of experience in the data center landscape. It ensures quick and smooth operation no matter how complex the data transfer process is, with a standard port speed of 100 Mbps and upgrade options that can boost it to 1 Gbps and even 10 Gbps. On the back-end, we make sure everything is monitored and optimized in real time by incorporating the Noction Intelligent Routing Platform, reducing network latency by up to 27% and packet loss by up to 87%. We set no boundaries when it comes to bandwidth – scalability can go as far as you decide. With our colocation plans, you cover all fronts.

 

4 – Competitive remote hands pricing schedules

Yet another paramount factor that separates the outstanding colocation providers from the good ones is the transparency in remote hands pricing. Before we go into details, an explanation is in order.

In colocation, “remote hands” means labor provided for physical tasks, such as racking new servers, installing RAM, hard drive changes, et cetera. These services are provided as extras, which means they aren’t included in your plan and you pay for them separately. With that said, there is quite a bit of leeway in the pricing, which leads to ample room for not-so-honest actions on the supplier’s part. For example, your provider will surely agree to perform, say, a BIOS configuration on your server. Sadly, it is often the case that they won’t be transparent about the price and will tell you “don’t worry about it”, until your invoice comes in and you see a ridiculous number. Some data centers have developed the unpleasant habit to nickle and dime their customers on this matter, to put it mildly.

Transparent and upfront pricing are the hallmarks of a colocation provider, especially when it comes to additional services like remote hands. The best way to ensure this is by offering flat rates and disclosing them before the fact. By choosing a colocation provider that offers this kind of remote hands services, you know you are doing business with a company that values the consumer and treats them with fairness and respect. Remember, the quality of a colocation service depends not only on the package you get, but how you get it as well.

At QuadraNet, we look at each and every client as more than just someone we are doing business with. We aim to offer the best colocation service available, and we strongly believe that the only way to achieve this goal is by developing a relationship with our customers that goes above and beyond the basic tenets. This is why you won’t find obfuscation in our price list – we provide our colocation clients with a wide array of complimentary remote hand services, performed by our 24/7/365 on-site QuadraNet staff. For more advanced services, we offer upfront flat-rate pricing. This provides our customer base with the fastest possible resolution time at unmatched low costs.

Included complimentary services (no cost):

  • 24/7 Reboots
  • Button Pushing
  • Screen Readouts
  • External Device Attachment/Movement (CDROM,KVMIP,Adapters,etc)
  • KVM-On-Demand
  • Hot-Swap HDD Replacements / Additions
  • Hot/Cold Swappable PSUs
  • Blade Server Additions
  • Initial Server Racking and Initial Cabinet Wiring Labor (client must provide rack rails and cabling/material, when necessary)

Advanced Remote Hands (provided at FLAT rates and lowest cost):

  • Download, Burn, and Attach ISO: $25
  • Internal HDD Replace/Install: $25
  • RAM Replace/Install: $25
  • Motherboard Replace/Install: $35
  • Add-on PCI Card Install: $25
  • BIOS Configuration/Troubleshooting, up to 15min: $25
  • Rack New Server/Run Neat Cabling/Record Port Attachment: $25/server

 

5 – Flexibility

The last decisive factor in your choice of colocation provider has to do with how adjustable it is to your specific needs. Flexibility is, unfortunately, a quality that eludes most data centers. What those providers have in common is the erroneous deduction that adaptability is not a characteristic of much relevance when it comes to colocation services. The extra steps in making sure colocation space is highly customizable and offers a wide variety of options is perhaps the most subtle, yet significant distinction that sets apart the great from the mediocre.

Why is flexibility important for colocation? As a client, think about the dynamics of your business. It has most likely needed to adapt to change on several occasions in order to stay successful or achieve further growth. In that regard, the colocation service you choose is no different – at its core, it is a business as well. When your colocation provider shows the desire to tailor their service according individual demands, it speaks volumes of the commitment they take in providing you with a complete package without any half-measures. Furthermore, while this can in no way be considered a small detail, the fact that it is given the necessary attention is a telling sign of the provider’s precision and focus on customer satisfaction – characteristics that are often promised, but rarely present.

Flexibility is vital not just to the colocation service itself – it is critical to your own success and the growth of your business as well. In a way, colocation introduces a symbiotic relationship between client and provider – how beneficial it is depends heavily on the available opportunities for changes and expansion. On one side, you are entrusting the most valuable aspect of your business – its lifeblood, if you will – to a provider. On the other, the provider assumes the responsibility of providing you with the necessary space, maintenance and support at all times, even as your needs shift. Therefore, it is crucial that you take this into account before making a decision, along with the other outlined factors.

Our QuadraNet colocation services are provided with the client in mind – that, you can be sure of. You don’t need to take just our word for it, though; we prefer to let our services speak for themselves. This is why we offer to customize your colocation space as you see fit. Our proposed solutions include single server, quarter rack, half rack and full rack colocation. For those of you who are looking for even more flexibility, we offer private suites tailored to your every requirement. Your business is valuable to us in every single aspect, and our primary goal is to offer the necessary flexibility for the ultimate client experience.

Make an Informed Decision

In this article we outlined the five most important qualities a colocation provider must possess, based on our experience in the industry. Its aim was to provide you with credible and accurate in-depth information on important aspects that should be taken in account when looking for a service that will fulfill and even exceed your expectations. We certainly hope this article will help you in making a decision that you can back up with facts, and one that will guide you to the perfect choice of colocation provider for your needs – as a customer, you deserve nothing less.

To sum up, there are several key factors that are instrumental to your pick. These cover a wide area, from reliability and security to performance, transparency and flexibility. Finding the provider that offers all of these key qualities will most definitely result in a colocation service that will provide you with satisfaction, comfort and opportunities for growth. At QuadraNet, we strive to cover and improve on all of the mentioned aspects with each new client – to us, customer satisfaction is a driving force behind the mindset to get better every day and deliver the ultimate in colocation services with unparalleled support, incredible performance and high flexibility.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to get in touch with me, and use me as a resource should you have any questions throughout your process of finding & selecting your ideal datacenter partner. My contact information is available below.

Adam Ng
Email: adam.ng@quadranet.com
Phone: 888-578-2372 x138
Skype: QuadraNet.Adam