When is colocation the right choice?



  • Considering all infrastructure options in the cloud with your typical shared VMs, dedicated VMs, dedicated hosts, bare metal servers etc. When is colocation the right choice?



  • I'll be the first. "It depends."

    I think it's wise to think through and articulate what services, applications, etc. need to be available. Then from there, you look at whether or not servers in colocation, VPS servers, third-party service offerings (meaning things like Office 365), on-premises servers, or a combination of these makes the most sense.


  • Service Provider


  • Service Provider

    Colocation is generally far better for four scenarios, and these aren't rare scenarios, so colocation is good for an awful lot of people, either fully or partially.

    1. When you have a non-trivial, steady capacity workload.
    2. When you have a workload with a minimum scalable capacity large enough that colocation is more cost effective for a base portion of it.
    3. When your capacity needs are extremely large.
    4. When you need flexibility or features not offered by appropriate alternatives.

    Beyond these, colocation is often popular for corporate political reasons as you maintain control of your systems.


  • Service Provider

    Let me work backwards on those points...

    4 (flexibility and features)

    Cloud tends to be very cookie cutter. You get X selection of operating systems, you get X selection of capacity and you get X selection of features. Need anything else and... tough.

    Colocation lets you custom pick your hardware. What if you need ARM, Power, Sparc, or Itanium systems? What cloud is going to meet your needs? Basically none. What if you need single site high availability? Basically unheard of in cloud. What if you want an unsupported OS? Or a specific mix of features?

    Colocation gives you options. Many companies use it just because it leaves them the captains of their own technical destinies.

    Networking flexibility is huge, too. If you need special hardware (Palo Alto?), or want uniformity with an office (UNMS management?), or speeds not offered in cloud (low latency trading?), and dedicated links between one place and another (MPLS, etc.) then you need colo, cloud doesn't realistically offer any of those.


  • Service Provider

    1. Large capacity

    As your capacity grows, cloud gets crazy expensive. Cloud pricing is based off of your paying for its flexible nature where you power it up and down quickly - once you get to a certain size, you can't justify that pricing any longer. So sheer size will flip the balance at some point.


  • Service Provider

    1. Scalability beyond a core.

    Cloud is all about scalability and elasticity, that's its purpose. If you have a core workload that doesn't fluctuate, even if other parts of it do, it's often better to put the stable core capacity (even if it's not stable itself, and only the capacity is a minimum) into colocation to get the performance and cost advantages; and then only use the cloud for capacity beyond that core amount. This is hybrid colo/cloud and can work very well.


  • Service Provider

    1. Stable, non-trivial workload.

    This is what gets most companies. Cloud for steady workloads doesn't make sense, because you pay a premium for elasticity that you do not use. Non-trivial means large enough to justify the hardware to have a server.

    If your workloads are trivial (in capacity, not that they aren't important) then cloud is best, because your scale is so small that you can't hit the minimum thresholds for colocation. But once you do, typically colocation is best.

    So extremely small SMBs, or those in constant flux, tend to find cloud better. More normal sized SMBs with steady size or regular, non-sporadic growth, tend to find colocation far better.

    Simple thresholds for size are based off of minimum colocation costs which are generally in the $50 - $100 / month range for a single starter server. And the cost of the server, often a couple thousand dollars, amortized over the period of use. THis might be around $2,000 for five years, or $35/mo.

    This means if you have a stable bill of approximately $85/month or larger with a cloud provider, you might be at the tipping point for colocation. The larger you get, the cheaper that gets for colocation.

    Once cloud monthly costs approach $200, as long as the workload is stable, the advantage to colocation becomes rapidly better. The larger the server, the denser the utilization, the better colocation performs.


  • Service Provider

    Companies like xByte are a big deal for colocation. They reduce the cost of hardware for colocation facilities making it easier to get the hardware purchase prices below what cloud can provide.


  • Service Provider

    Within the factors that I listed, one of the big contributors is storage. Cloud providers typically are not very flexible or scalable with storage. This varies, and is not a rule, but a trend. If your workload is not well balanced for cloud usage, especially needing a lot of storage capacity, colocation can become very advantageous extremely quickly. A workload like NextCloud can be very difficult to afford on a cloud, but trivial in colocation.


  • Service Provider

    @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    A workload like NextCloud can be very difficult to afford on a cloud, but trivial in colocation.

    A Nextcloud example in production woudl be my personal system. I have nearly 1TB of data on it. I have it in a colo as a VM on a server running many other systems to. This is way cheaper for me than buying a cloud instance large enough to handle Nextcloud, and then more separate instances for the other VMs I have.



  • I would like a Colo server for personal use. VPSs don't cut it. My problem is getting ahold of hardware. The monthly cost is no issue.


  • Service Provider

    @obsolesce said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    I would like a Colo server for personal use. VPSs don't cut it. My problem is getting ahold of hardware. The monthly cost is no issue.

    I did get lucky there. I won a server from XByte at the first ML meetup in NYC in 2014.

    It is getting long in the tooth, but for my needs it works well. I think the Service tag marked it as made in the middle of 2012.



  • @jaredbusch said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @obsolesce said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    I would like a Colo server for personal use. VPSs don't cut it. My problem is getting ahold of hardware. The monthly cost is no issue.

    I did get lucky there. I won a server from XByte at the first ML meetup in NYC in 2014.

    It is getting long in the tooth, but for my needs it works well. I think the Service tag marked it as made in the middle of 2012.

    Still, it's better than what I have.


  • Service Provider

    @obsolesce said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    I would like a Colo server for personal use. VPSs don't cut it. My problem is getting ahold of hardware. The monthly cost is no issue.

    xByte


  • Service Provider

    @obsolesce said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @jaredbusch said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @obsolesce said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    I would like a Colo server for personal use. VPSs don't cut it. My problem is getting ahold of hardware. The monthly cost is no issue.

    I did get lucky there. I won a server from XByte at the first ML meetup in NYC in 2014.

    It is getting long in the tooth, but for my needs it works well. I think the Service tag marked it as made in the middle of 2012.

    Still, it's better than what I have.

    Getting a decent Rx2x generation box can be pretty cheap. For colo lab purposes, go for a 1U to save on the monthly bills.



  • Lots of good replies in this thread. The reason I brought it up is because almost no one talks about colocation but maybe that's because of the composition of the members of the forum.

    The last few posts goes in the direction I'm planning to go myself. And that is to rent 1/4 rack in a datacenter and colocate a couple of servers there. The servers I'm going to use are part refurbished, part new but still has a couple of years worth of life in them. Given the price of just CPU & memory today, refurbished is very good value for money. You could obviously get more cores and higher density with new machines but even if a few U's are wasted, the difference in money is huge.


  • Service Provider

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    Lots of good replies in this thread. The reason I brought it up is because almost no one talks about colocation but maybe that's because of the composition of the members of the forum.

    Likely because we've talked about it a lot before and it's well covered for a lot of the regulars. A lot of us use it, NTG does, lots of our clients do, @EddieJennings does, etc. I've had colocation continuously for decades. I'd say it is more the norm, than not.


  • Service Provider

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    The last few posts goes in the direction I'm planning to go myself. And that is to rent 1/4 rack in a datacenter and colocate a couple of servers there. The servers I'm going to use are part refurbished, part new but still has a couple of years worth of life in them. Given the price of just CPU & memory today, refurbished is very good value for money. You could obviously get more cores and higher density with new machines but even if a few U's are wasted, the difference in money is huge.

    In colocation, value tends to lean heavily towards investing in rack density. Virtualization drove the move to colocation heavily. You want big CPUs, and loads of RAM. If you can squeeze into 1U or maybe 2U, it's worth a bit of extra money thrown at the hardware to keep yourself from spilling over to an extra box.

    Rack pricing (aka 1/4 rack, 1/3 rack, 1/2 rack, Full Rack) is typically very high compared to "Per U" pricing. You'd be amazed how much you can save.

    Hit up @colocationamerica for pricing details. They have some really competitive rates.



  • @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    Lots of good replies in this thread. The reason I brought it up is because almost no one talks about colocation but maybe that's because of the composition of the members of the forum.

    Likely because we've talked about it a lot before and it's well covered for a lot of the regulars. A lot of us use it, NTG does, lots of our clients do, @EddieJennings does, etc. I've had colocation continuously for decades. I'd say it is more the norm, than not.

    Thanks, that makes sense.


  • Service Provider

    @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    Rack pricing (aka 1/4 rack, 1/3 rack, 1/2 rack, Full Rack) is typically very high compared to "Per U" pricing. You'd be amazed how much you can save.
    Hit up @colocationamerica for pricing details. They have some really competitive rates.

    Yet, even @colocationamerica does not offer "per u" pricing in very many places. It is much more common to get fractional rack space.



  • @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    The last few posts goes in the direction I'm planning to go myself. And that is to rent 1/4 rack in a datacenter and colocate a couple of servers there. The servers I'm going to use are part refurbished, part new but still has a couple of years worth of life in them. Given the price of just CPU & memory today, refurbished is very good value for money. You could obviously get more cores and higher density with new machines but even if a few U's are wasted, the difference in money is huge.

    In colocation, value tends to lean heavily towards investing in rack density. Virtualization drove the move to colocation heavily. You want big CPUs, and loads of RAM. If you can squeeze into 1U or maybe 2U, it's worth a bit of extra money thrown at the hardware to keep yourself from spilling over to an extra box.

    Rack pricing (aka 1/4 rack, 1/3 rack, 1/2 rack, Full Rack) is typically very high compared to "Per U" pricing. You'd be amazed how much you can save.

    Hit up @colocationamerica for pricing details. They have some really competitive rates.

    I'm in Europe so doesn't make sense to use US datacenters. But the quotes I have puts three 1U servers at the same price as 1/4 rack.


  • Service Provider

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    The last few posts goes in the direction I'm planning to go myself. And that is to rent 1/4 rack in a datacenter and colocate a couple of servers there. The servers I'm going to use are part refurbished, part new but still has a couple of years worth of life in them. Given the price of just CPU & memory today, refurbished is very good value for money. You could obviously get more cores and higher density with new machines but even if a few U's are wasted, the difference in money is huge.

    In colocation, value tends to lean heavily towards investing in rack density. Virtualization drove the move to colocation heavily. You want big CPUs, and loads of RAM. If you can squeeze into 1U or maybe 2U, it's worth a bit of extra money thrown at the hardware to keep yourself from spilling over to an extra box.

    Rack pricing (aka 1/4 rack, 1/3 rack, 1/2 rack, Full Rack) is typically very high compared to "Per U" pricing. You'd be amazed how much you can save.

    Hit up @colocationamerica for pricing details. They have some really competitive rates.

    I'm in Europe so doesn't make sense to use US datacenters. But the quotes I have puts three 1U servers at the same price as 1/4 rack.

    Sounds right to me.


  • Service Provider

    @jaredbusch said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    Rack pricing (aka 1/4 rack, 1/3 rack, 1/2 rack, Full Rack) is typically very high compared to "Per U" pricing. You'd be amazed how much you can save.
    Hit up @colocationamerica for pricing details. They have some really competitive rates.

    Yet, even @colocationamerica does not offer "per u" pricing in very many places. It is much more common to get fractional rack space.

    Both coasts, though. Enough places for most people.


  • Service Provider

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    @pete-s said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    The last few posts goes in the direction I'm planning to go myself. And that is to rent 1/4 rack in a datacenter and colocate a couple of servers there. The servers I'm going to use are part refurbished, part new but still has a couple of years worth of life in them. Given the price of just CPU & memory today, refurbished is very good value for money. You could obviously get more cores and higher density with new machines but even if a few U's are wasted, the difference in money is huge.

    In colocation, value tends to lean heavily towards investing in rack density. Virtualization drove the move to colocation heavily. You want big CPUs, and loads of RAM. If you can squeeze into 1U or maybe 2U, it's worth a bit of extra money thrown at the hardware to keep yourself from spilling over to an extra box.

    Rack pricing (aka 1/4 rack, 1/3 rack, 1/2 rack, Full Rack) is typically very high compared to "Per U" pricing. You'd be amazed how much you can save.

    Hit up @colocationamerica for pricing details. They have some really competitive rates.

    I'm in Europe so doesn't make sense to use US datacenters. But the quotes I have puts three 1U servers at the same price as 1/4 rack.

    Wow, the difference here is usually huge. Like $50 - $100 for a 1U or 2U, and several hundred for quarter racks.



  • @scottalanmiller said in When is colocation the right choice?:

    I'm in Europe so doesn't make sense to use US datacenters. But the quotes I have puts three 1U servers at the same price as 1/4 rack.

    Wow, the difference here is usually huge. Like $50 - $100 for a 1U or 2U, and several hundred for quarter racks.

    Yes, I guess the choice would depend a lot on the pricing.

    I also have specific 2U servers in mind which would make it lower cost with a 1/4 rack already at two servers.

    Each refurb server will have 128GB RAM on 20 cores, expandable to 256GB RAM on 40 cores. I haven't run benchmarks on it but looking at geekbench, machines with the same cpu have a score of around 3000 for a single core. So performance should be similar to most cloud providers that are not running latest gen servers. Hopefully the balance of physical cores and RAM will turn out fine, 6.4GB/pCPU. Of course I could allocate resources as I want and add another server if need be.