Types of Colos

After assembling your colocation team and figuring out the paperwork needed to start your data center, what is the next step? Knowing the types of colos available and each or their capabilities.

Read what Colin Corbett, BlueChipTek Engineer, has to say from his 26 years of experience in building infrastructure from the ground up.

There are varying different types of colos. For your project, you will probably be in either a premiere colo, which is network and connectivity dense, or a standard colo, which should be cheaper, but with less provider choices. 


The premiere (high retail) colo   

This is a colocation provider that can provide you space, but may be more costly. Things you will generally see: 

  • Designed for a 0-250Kw footprint 
  • Contract will be for 2-3 years. 
  • Power will be at allocated rate (not metered). (Allocated power – where you pay a flat monthly fee for the primary, and redundant circuits, regardless of how much power you actually draw). (Metered power – Where you pay a fee (with a PUE uplift) for the actual amount of power used.
  • Crossconnects will have a monthly cost. 
  • A peering fabric option.  In the US, this is traditionally operated by the colo facility.  In other parts of the world, this may be an independent one.
  • Multiple high speed (10Gb/100Gb) providers installed in the facility, offering transit, metro and long haul services. 
  • There will generally be a 24*7 remote hands option 
  • Full time security, full time access, and the ability to receive packages around the clock (Afterhours by arrangement).

This is generally a good choice,   

  • if you have a lot of traffic that you want to egress out of a small footprint to a large amount of carriers/peers.   
  • If you have limited headcount, and plan to rely on their remote hands. 
  • If you need peering, connectivity to multiple networks etc.

TIP: If you actually pull your power circuit to within the planned threshold (usually 80%, then your numbers will start to pencil out). But, the less efficient you are with your power draw, you are not getting the value for the power circuit.

 

The standard colo  

This is a colocation provider that will provide you space and power, and network but you may have other issues. Things you will generally see: 

  • Designed for a 0-250Kw footprint 
  • Power may be at an allocated or metered rate (metered is preferred).
  •  Crossconnects may be free, a one-time NRC, or a reduced monthly rate.
  • There may not be a peering fabric, or if there is, it is an independent (multi-building) one. 
  • There may not be multiple carriers, in fact, it may just be the colo provider offering their own transit.  (This is usually significantly more expensive than market rate). A good standard colo will have a decent amount of carriers, and relationships, to get more carriers in. 
  • You may have issues hauling your traffic out of the datacenter, (you might be limited by contract, there may be few providers to offer the service, or they may not be built in redundantly). Pay close attention to the on-net network providers, and what entrances they are built into.
  • Security and access should still be 24*7, but things like remote hands may not be. 

This is generally a good choice: 

  • If you have a small amount of traffic, as you won’t need to worry extensively about backhaul (to a well-connected facility) and can pass all of it off at this one location.  
  • If you are cost conscious about datacenter footprint, and can get all of your bandwidth/crossconnect, and space concerns resolved, (locally, or via fabric provider).  
  • When you are connecting to other providers that are within the building. (A lot of larger networks are expanding out of the high retail facilities, as there is minimal room (and power) for them to expand.)

 

The high wholesale colo  

This is a provider of large spaces (usually from 250Kw up to rooms of  ~2Mw).  

  • The contract will be very much like a real estate contract and will probably have a longer lease time (3 -7 years) vs a shorter contract that you would see in a smaller build. The contract will be significantly longer than a smaller colo presence.    
  • The location will probably be found by a detailed RFP process.  
  • Power should be at a metered rate. 
  • PUE is broken out, and charged by use, or as a flat percentage uplift. 
  • Crossconnects should be free, but, may have a high NRC or a low monthly MRC.  
  • There will be a handful of carriers in the building  
  • There may be a peering fabric.  
  • Security, access, and remote hands should be available 24x7  
  • There should be dedicated storage and office space available for you. Depending upon the size of your install, you will want between 1000–2500 sq ft for your office/storage.  
  • You might have a lot more influence on the electrical buildout (such as busway, and breakers), cable distribution layout etc. but the DC may not be that flexible.      
  • A very close look at things like floor loading, and overall building design is needed.   

 

The wholesale colo 

  • The contract will be very much like a real estate contract, and will probably have a longer lead time (5 -7 years) vs a shorter contract that you would see in a smaller build. The contract will be significantly longer than a smaller colo presence. You may want to contract a real estate broker that deals in datacenter space to help with the process. 
  • The location will probably be found by a detailed RFP process. 
  • Power should be at a metered rate. 
  • PUE is broken out, and charged by use, or as a flat percentage uplift. -Crossconnects should be free, but may have a 1 time NRC.  There should be no MRC.
  • There will be a handful of carriers in the building.
  • There may be a peering fabric, but be prepared to operate a DWDM system to a main colo facility.
  • Security, access, and remote hands should be available 24x7 
  • There should be dedicated storage and office space available for you. Depending upon the size of your install, you will want between 1000 –2500 sq ft for your office/storage. 
  • You will have a lot more influence on the electrical buildout, cable distribution layout etc.     
  • A very close look at things like floor loading, and overall building design is needed.     

 

Building a colo from the ground up/Fully occupying a building 

  •  This is where things get custom depending upon what you are building.  This can vary from a small single datacenter building, to a campus of datacenters.
  •  This work can be contracted out to one of the various datacenter builders. Maintenance of the mechanical/electrical plant may be done by either the datacenter operator, an outsourced operator, or your own electrical team. 
  • This may also involve various tax incentives, detailed site selection around fiber paths, electrical cooling, average external temperature, room to grow etc.

 

Note for all buildings

Regardless of which type of datacenter you pick, make sure that the datacenters are on top of their maintenance, and redundancy plans.

All datacenters should be doing some form of standard maintenance.  There should be a maintenance calendar, everything should be tested on a frequent basis, (including Generators, cooling units etc.) Things should be maintained and replaced prior to failing, and when they fail.

The datacenters you are looking at, should be considered “Concurrently Maintainable”, and conform to a TIA-942 Tier 3 design. (This can be debated, if you have additional redundancy already in your application, and can support a datacenter failing).

 


If you are looking for advice for the best colo recommendation for your facility, fill out the contact form to reach out to our BCT Integration Team.