As more businesses migrate workloads to the cloud, more and more are choosing colocation. As reported by Reuters, the global colocation market is expected to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.0% from 2016 to 2022.

What is colocation? Colocation allows a business to house their IT infrastructure in a facility owned and managed by a third-party provider.

Another study in 2017 conducted by 451 Research showed 41% of companies surveyed had moved workloads from the public cloud to a colocation environment.

In this post, we’ll look at why colocation remains popular even in the “cloud first” era, and the unique concerns around colocation security. 

Why Are So Many Businesses Choosing Colocation?

While colocation doesn’t offer the full benefits of cloud computing, such as eliminating hardware obsolescence, it does allow the business to shed the responsibility of managing the facility itself. This is highly beneficial for businesses with a forte in IT infrastructure and not facilities management.

Businesses choose colocation for a wide range of reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Existing hardware investments – If you’ve made a recent investment in hardware, colocation can help you leverage that investment. Businesses often see colocation as a stepping stone to the cloud.
  • In-house skills and expertise – If your business has historically done everything in-house, you may have deep IT skills and staff in some areas. Downsizing through attrition can be less painful for everyone. Colocation allows you to gradually move more and more IT responsibilities to a managed provider as your staff grows smaller.
  • Legacy applications – Many legacy applications aren’t architected for the cloud. Colocation allows you to manage them more closely, decreasing your exposure to cyber threats.
  • Compliance & security strategy – While we often write about how a managed hosted cloud can be more secure than an on-premises data center or colocation, some businesses just feel more comfortable managing their own infrastructure. Colocation lets you do that.
  • Energy footprint – Data centers consume a massive amount of energy. In 2014, the Department of Energy (DOE) estimated data center energy consumption in the US to be roughly equivalent to that of 6.4 million homes. By taking advantage of economies of scale and the latest energy conservation technologies and techniques, colocation can help you cut your energy footprint dramatically.
  • Space restrictions -  You’re not ready to move some of your workloads to the cloud, yet you’re running out of space. Colocation can help you find room fast.
  • Physical security – On-premises data centers are incredibly vulnerable to vandalism as well as to thieves looking to steal data and equipment the old-fashioned way. Good colocation providers take extensive physical security precautions.
  • Disaster recovery – If your business is located in a disaster-prone region, colocation allows you to manage your own infrastructure, but in a less risky area. TierPoint even offers workspace for your employees should disaster strike.

Colocation Security Considerations

While colocation makes a lot of business sense, it comes with its own unique security considerations. When you choose colocation, you need to consider both sides of the security equation: physical and cyber.

Security professionals often talk about the OSI’s 7-layer Network Security model. Layer one is the physical layer, and as mentioned above, physical security is one of the reasons many businesses choose colocation. As a provider of colocation facilities, we manage the physical aspects of security such as access to the facility, installing security cameras and other monitoring devices, and staffing each site with security personnel 24X7.

However, since you still own the infrastructure housed in our data centers, colocation doesn’t inherently address cybersecurity concerns. There are six more layers that you need to secure.

Complicating matters somewhat, cybercriminals are devising attacks which affect multiple layers. For example, a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that starts out attacking layer 4, the transport protocol layer, might quickly switch to attacking layer 7, the application layer. Attacks can also come at you from multiple vectors, e.g., DDoS attacks are increasingly being used as a diversion while other types of attacks are launched in the background.

Decrease your risks in a colocation environment by assessing your risks. We offer a comprehensive vulnerability assessment to help you identify weaknesses in your security systems and strategies.

 We can make Colocation easier for you.  Colocation with TierPoint allows you to put your company's IT infrastructure in our strategically located, state-of-the-art data centers. Our facilities are independently audited to ensure we have the controls, processes, and physical security features to help clients get certified as compliant for critical regulations including HIPAA/HITECH, GLBA, PCI-DSS v3.2, and ITAR. Learn about our data center locations and contact us today to request an on-site tour.

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