A colocation is a data center facility in which a business can rent space for servers and other computing hardware. Typically, a colo provides the building, cooling, power, bandwidth and physical security while the customer provides servers and storage. Space in the facility is often leased by the rack, cabinet, cage or room. Many colos have extended their offerings to include managed services that support their customers' business initiatives.
Colocation allows you to place your server machine in someone else's rack and share their bandwidth as your own. It generally costs more than standard Web hosting, but less than a comparable amount of bandwidth into your place of business. Once you have a machine set up, you take it physically to the location of the colocation provider and install it in their rack or you rent a server machine from the colocation provider. That company then provides an IP, bandwidth, and power to your server. Once it's up and running, you access it much like you would access a Web site on a hosting provider. The difference being that you own the hardware.
There are several reasons a business might choose a colo over building its own data center, but one of the main drivers is the capital expenditures (CAPEX) associated with building, maintaining and updating a large computing facility. Today, colos are especially popular with cloud service providers.
- Lockable rack cabinets or cages
- Power in a variety of formats, AC and DC
- Network Connectivity
- Physical Security