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Colocation Bandwidth Advantages
How your business can benefit from colocation bandwidth services

By: John Shepler

If your Internet access, hosting and other telecommunication needs have started small and grown steadily over the years, you probably have your own data center. The big advantage of an on-site data center is quick and easy access to your server farm and network connections. But, you also have the responsibility of physical security, environmental controls, backup power and wide area network connections.

Carrier Hotels
Another approach is to move your equipment to a "colo" or colocation center, also called a carrier hotel. This is a special facility where many companies and telecom carriers rent space and provide access to each other's networks. The colocation center operator provides physical security for the building and network wiring, environmental controls, battery and generator power backups.

So why buy these service when you can provide them yourself? One good reason is that you may have more choices among telecom carriers that you have at your location. Numerous Internet service providers and long lines carriers may offer points of presence in the same facility. Not only does this create competition for bandwidth pricing, but you may be able to get service from companies that can't directly connect to your location. That's especially true if your operation is not sited within a major metropolitan area.

Types of Available Services
Telecom services may include T1, DS3, OC3, OC12, and OC48 TDM voice and data service. You may also find easier to get IP services such as Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet. A carrier hotel is likely to have multiple fiber optic cables brought into the facility. How many fiber optic cables service your facility?

Colocation bandwidth is sometimes available by the megabyte or gigabyte instead of a fixed bandwidth available elsewhere. You may also have the option to quickly increase or decrease the amount of bandwidth that you are buying, since the carriers have routers and switches in the same carrier hotel. The colocation center usually has a "meet me" room where carriers all locate their equipment, or at least patching facilities to make connections quickly, easily and cheaply.

Other Considerations
Another advantage is the ability to get redundant network connections from diverse carriers. In other words, you buy some of your bandwidth from one carrier and the rest from a competing carrier. If one carrier has technical problems that disrupt your service, you'll still be able to run on the bandwidth from the other non-related carrier. You can get redundant services brought to your own facility, but it's likely a lot more expensive and less flexible. Latency within a colocation center is reduced, too, since you are located within feet rather than miles of your bandwidth providers.

You may also want to consider a colocation facility for disaster protection. What happens if a fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or other disaster hits your facility? By having at least a backup facility at a remote colocation center, you'll be able to keep running regardless of local emergencies.

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