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Colocation Criteria

By thelaw in News
Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 05:13:52 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

Hello all, I'm interested in setting up a server of my own, but I want to maintain the equipment myself instead of relying on (and paying!!!) someone else to maintain the hardware. What kind of criteria should I use when deciding on a colocation provider? Probably one of the most important factors to me is cost (I'm a college student, and therefore poor :) but also important are competent service and uptime.... What else should I be looking for?


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Colocation Criteria | 35 comments (35 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Im sort of interested in this mysel... (1.00 / 1) (#1)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 02:43:28 PM EST

The Baptist Death Ray voted 1 on this story.

Im sort of interested in this myself.

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin

Intresting Question... (1.00 / 1) (#5)
by Rich on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 03:08:40 PM EST

Rich voted 1 on this story.

Intresting Question
I Expect history will be kind to me as i intend to write is. Winston Churchill

If you want to maintain the hardwar... (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Cylon on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 03:34:10 PM EST

Cylon voted 0 on this story.

If you want to maintain the hardware yourself, why would need to colocate? If your a college student, you couldn't afford to pay for colocation, at least if you went through the place where I work ;)

Re: If you want to maintain the hardwar... (none / 0) (#8)
by rusty on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 05:33:12 PM EST

Where do you work? How much does it cost there? What are your services? I'm very interested in this Q myself, because I'm in the same boat (except not as concerned about cost).

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
ummm. doesn't this go somewhere els... (none / 0) (#6)
by speakpc on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:09:31 PM EST

speakpc voted 0 on this story.

ummm. doesn't this go somewhere else? i mean, it's not an article, is it?

I think you have a much better chan... (3.50 / 2) (#3)
by Anonymous Zero on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:13:10 PM EST

Anonymous Zero voted 1 on this story.

I think you have a much better chance of finding free/cheap host that will give you root access than finding free/cheap colocation host. Colocation is usually much more expensive than hosting because you are essentially leasing space at a network facility. But you may have a friend that works for company X that happens to have it's own T3 in its office and wouldn't mind letting you hide a box in their server room...

My friends ask me this same question all the time and I tell them to do things in order: First you build the web site, second put the web site on some free/cheap host, and then if you get lots of traffic worry about moving to a bigger host.

i need to look into this soon mysel... (none / 0) (#2)
by 31: on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:26:05 PM EST

31: voted 1 on this story.

i need to look into this soon myself. nothing like piggybacking someone else :)


You can't colocate in two places at... (1.00 / 1) (#4)
by the Epopt on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:53:27 PM EST

the Epopt voted 1 on this story.

You can't colocate in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all.
Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.


I'm the Boss, need the info, mmkay? (none / 0) (#9)
by rusty on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 05:35:47 PM EST

I'm very interested in this question myself, as I expect to be moving K5 to a colo or a host provider soon, like within the next 2 months. Any personal experiences, especially good ones, would be really very much appreciated. And if you work for a provider, and wanna talk trade (ads for pipes), let me know! ;-)

Not the real rusty
not cheap (3.50 / 2) (#10)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 05:59:21 PM EST

Most of the places offering colocation services range in price from $1000.00 to $3000.00+ per month. Not cheap! But if someone *does* find a cheap one, be sure to let us know.

What to look for in a colocation provider (4.40 / 7) (#11)
by freakazoid on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:01:56 PM EST

Your priorities are obviously going to depend on what you're doing with the server; typically you can't have incredible reliability and performance at a cheap price.

Here are some issues I've seen with some of the data center providers out there:

Security. Most colos hire a security company such as (in the US) American Protective Services. I've been to two colo companies that use APS, and while APS is very good, their effectiveness is highly dependent on the company's policies. At one company, I got into the data center without any form of photo ID whatsoever. At another, it's nearly impossible to get in without photo ID and/or a badge, and there are guards at every door and rovers inside the data center. And I know people who have talked themselves into a third data center without even being with a customer of that company. Also, most IDCs provide separate cages or enclosed cabinets, with possibly shared cages for the cheaper customers. Many even provide vaults with liquid filled conduits for banks and ecommerce operations.

Capacity. Most data center companies are adding customers like crazy, and they frequenty run out of space, bandwidth, power, air conditioning, or commonly all of the above. Ask the company what sort of power density and bandwidth they've planned each of their data centers around. You should expect somewhere above 100 watts per square foot of usable floor space (i.e. usable for servers/racks). Even if you don't need lots of power, you may in the future, and someone is undoubtedly going to come into the datacenter with their cluster of Linux servers and heat the place up and use up all the power. If they're above 100 watts per square foot on both power and air conditioning (if you want, contact me directly and I'll tell you how many tons of AC they need for a given amount of power coming into the IDC).

Reliability. Look at the company's backbone, network hardware, and peering arrangements. The peering arrangements are actually the most important. You probably won't find much more than who they peer with, but you should make sure they are at several major exchanges and peer with all of the Tier 1s. Unless they themselves are truly a T1, they should also have a GOOD transit provider or multiple transit providers. The transit provider is a company they pay to readvertise all of their routes. The transit provider is used for access to any ISPs that the colo provider doesn't peer with directly. They should either buy transit from a tier 1 or from multiple tier 2s.

Services. You may want to manage your own server, but many companies provide some very useful services, like backup, mirroring, caching, managed firewalls, even application development. You may want to use one or more of these in the future. They should also have a well trained NOC for those times when you can't get to your machine in the middle of the night; you may want them to power cycle your box or tell you about current network outages.

BTW, FM200 is *not* a selling point. Don't listen if they tell you they have FM200; it just means when some moron contractor sets off the fire system the power will go down, because you have to connect the FM200 to your power and air conditioning. A smoke sampling system with water in case it gets ridiculously out of hand (miniscule chance of this ever happening) is going to lead to a much lower chance of your machine suddenly losing power due to stupidity. If the water goes off, it'll be where the fire is anyway, not throughout the IDC.

Price. You can't have it all for free. A colo with concrete floors and shared or no cages is obviously going to be cheaper than one with raised floors, so you're really going to need to figure out how important the other things are to you.

Feel free to contact me if you want to talk offline.

Its never cheap (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by Alhazred on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:04:19 PM EST

The lowest prices I've seen for co-lo are around $250 a month, most places are more.

First trick is to find one that will let you supply your own hardware. Most of the places really make their money leasing you the machine, and charging absurd amounts for upgrades etc (even if they don't actually do any maintenance for you). I did find a few places by rooting around on Yahoo a couple years ago though that just let you send them a box. It still has to be within a certain size, etc.

Problem is there is NO place I know of that will let you IN their server room. Once the machine is in there you will have to pull it out to fix it! Make sure you run on good iron!

One of the other gotcha's is backups. You gotta have them, and since you aren't going to be visiting your box in person to change the tapes, you will generally be forking over from $10 to $50 each time you need a tape rotated...

All this helps explain why people don't colocate!

One partial solution is to go to someone like Verio, which has "virtual server" setups. Its really just a marketing scam to sell you plain old hosting service, BUT you do get more or less full access to the machines, and its pretty cheap. For under $100 bucks a month you get a slice of a FreeBSD machine from them and you get your own Apache and MySQL and whatever else you want to install. Basically you have free run of your part of the thing. Its not so bad, and they seem to keep the load moderately reasonable on those machines, so it is a viable middle-ground where you need real hands on control of the server configuration, but don't have the income to justify co-lo.

Of course having a friend at an ISP is always the sweetest deal ;o)
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
Re: Its never cheap (none / 0) (#23)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Wed Jun 14, 2000 at 10:13:01 PM EST

First trick is to find one that will let you supply your own hardware.

If they don't, it's not really colo, is it? What if I had a funky rig I wanted colocated, like some Voice-over-IP hardware? My definition of colocation service is: renting rack space, power, pipe, and perhaps extras like security, maintenance or monitoring.

Problem is there is NO place I know of that will let you IN their server room. Once the machine is in there you will have to pull it out to fix it!

Most colo providers I have looked at provide physical access to your hardware, and the better ones even provide 24/7 access, as well as a workspace, tools and occasionally even some loaner parts like NICs and spare disks for those bad days. I've heard positive stories along some of these lines from a colleague using Hurricane Electric, and while their prices are average [and thus, a bit out of the range I'd consider ideal for personal use] hearing good things about them is important for a service where mostly I just hear cursing.

[ Parent ]

umm, where you all looking? (none / 0) (#13)
by MrSparkle on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:04:53 PM EST

Jut do a search of colocation hosting in any search engin. Go to all the pages. And compair what they offer for that price. After going to like 10 semi-good ones you will have a retty good idea on what is respectable for a good co-host. I'm about to send a server off to a co-host that charges $150 amonth, and they are only 30 minuts away.
I'm the guy that has a problem with everything.
Re: umm, where you all looking? (none / 0) (#19)
by swc on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 10:44:03 PM EST

Where are you planning on colocating?

[ Parent ]
Regional or metro ISP's (none / 0) (#14)
by KindBud on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:09:52 PM EST

If there is an ISP in your area that is not part of one of the big constellations (Earthlink/Mindspring, Verio, Concentric, etc) then that is probably your best bet. You can expect to pay between $200 and $1000 per month for a couple shelves, maybe 4U or 6U worth of rackspace. Then you get to pay for the bandwidth. Space and pipes are usually charged separately, but there is no hard-and-fast rule. Then you get to pay up front costs for wiring, and if there is any telco work, that gets paid for up front too (T1 drops, etc).

The best thing you can bring to a prospective ISP is good bargaining skills! Wheel and deal, go for the full-court press. But realize that in the end, you are probably going to get what you pay for. It may be more econimical to just get a T1 strung to your apartment, and run it from there.

just roll a fatty

Re: Regional or metro ISP's (none / 0) (#28)
by fluffy grue on Thu Jun 15, 2000 at 09:45:35 PM EST

Actually, Concentric *does* to colocation services. A friend of mine colocates his webserver there. Admittedly, he works for concentric.net, but all that means is he gets a discount. :) However, I don't know if they'll do it at the local branches. (He works at the main headquarters.)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

alternatives.... (none / 0) (#15)
by abe1x on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:23:04 PM EST

Cohosting is priced way out of your league. In fact they are priced out of my league too and I run an internet company. Its cheaper to lease a T1 ($600+ a month) last I looked into it. Just to give an idea neither Global Center nor Exodus even put price quotes on their pages, you need to contact a rep. Maybe some small ISPs will let you cohost, but I can't imagine them charging less then $100 a month. In any case if you find some one cheaper please let me know.

Don't know how you school is set up, but my alma mata had fully wired up dorms and let you run your own server on their massive bandwidth. Can't get much cheaper then that.

If thats not an option the cheapest thing to do is probably to get some DSL with a static IP, still not super cheap ($50+ a month) but it will let you run your own equipment. Other wise you may have to forget about maintaining the equipment and go to some free spot. LinuxShell.org looks interesting, although I have yet to be able to set up a proper account.

Re: alternatives.... (none / 0) (#16)
by cjoh1111 on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:26:19 PM EST

Actually, I use the lowest possible package from Exodus and it runs us about $2,000 per month. The best option in this case is to get a group together and split the cost. A half-rack over at exodus can generally hold about 10 boxen in there plus switch, etc... AND Exodus I know requires you to have an insurance policy before even setting foot in the place to protect them from any liability.

[ Parent ]
Re: alternatives.... (none / 0) (#21)
by kellan on Wed Jun 14, 2000 at 11:32:27 AM EST

its cheaper to least a T1, and much cheaper to run a DSL to your home, but you are paying for a very different service.

back when somebody else was paying the bills I used to have a box at AboveNet, and besides have near 100% uptime (down several minutes a month), AboveNet was constantly tuning their peering agreements to work about any trouble spots. (MaeEast slow today, we'll send traffic directly over our peering agreements)

that is the service you are paying for, the uptime, and response time that isn't possible by yourself. DSL certainly isn't the answer, DSL in the boston area was down all day yesterday :(


[ Parent ]

Some colocation options (4.30 / 3) (#17)
by swc on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 07:03:43 PM EST

I've actually spent the past week or so checking out colo facilities. One thing that I've noticed is companies that don't list their prices on their web sites generally have very high prices (kind of a "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" thing).

There's also two ways colo facilites charge for bandwidth - throughput and transfer. Throughput is your typical throttle you to 'n' kb/s at the router. This used to be the most common method, but a lot of colo companies are moving to charging per GB transferred.

The best way to compare pricing between different colo's that use different pricing schemes for bandwidth is to multiply the kb/s (for those whose pricing is based on throughput) by 0.3089. So with a 128kb/s connection you could transfer about 40GB a month if you kept it maxed out 24/7.

Another thing - when checking these places out, be sure to ask what kind of setup fees are involved. I've actually been quoted four-figure setup fees for a single server!

Here's a brief overview of the more interesting colo facilities I've talked to. When possible, I will list the prices I was quoted in email / on the phone. Keep in mind that prices may change, I may make a typo, etc - so don't yell at me if you call them and they tell you something totally different.


Right now, I'm seriously considering colocating with maxim. They recently raised their bandwidth prices, but they are still the best prices I have been able to find. The only problem with maxim is I've been seeing a good amount of packet loss (10-15%) between my dsl connection and their network. It appears most of the packets are being dropped along alter.net (aka uunet) and bbnplanet, not on their network. I don't want to try to admin a server without a good connection to it.


Superb charges by the GB transferred, and their prices are reasonable($135/50GB - $2.70/GB). Their "Superb Complete" service sounds quite reasonable, and they're probably a good choice if you don't need dirt-cheap bandwidth.


NetRail doesn't list any pricing on their web site, but I gave them a call. They charge $500/month per server (up to 4U). The $500 includes 512k of bandwidth, additional bandwidth may be purchased for "$500-600 per 1mbit/s per month". Apparently they put your server in with four other servers. Each group of five servers gets a 2.5mbit/s slice of bandwidth to share amongst themselves. The sales rep was quite clued, which is a good sign.

A lot of the colo places that I called started out with a half rack with 1mbit of bandwidth, and went up from there. Not an option for someone looking to colo on a small budget. I've also considered trying to get a cheap frame-relay line, or possibly even doing dsl, but if you need good uptime, then you really need 2+ connections. An interesting idea I saw in a discussion on this sort of thing on "that other site" is hosting your server your self and setting up a RAIL - Redundant Array of Inexpensive Links. But by the time you paid for all that you'll have spent as much as you would going with a solid colocation facility

Please let us all know if you know of any good colo places besides the ones I have listed above.


Co-Location Costs in the UK (none / 0) (#18)
by Fish on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 09:37:14 PM EST

I've got 2 servers co-located at 50 per month each (+VAT) - that works out to 117.50 per month, and upto 200MB bandwidth per day.

I am also considering co-locating a third server on another network - it costs 600+VAT for a year, including set-up costs if you pay for the year upfront, with 5GBytes transfer per month, but you have to wonder how much contention there is on their link (they have 18,000 clients apparently).

If you are co-locating, make sure you know the case size or format (e.g. microATX, 19" rack mount). Some places charge per u of rack space - this is about 1.5 inches.

Also, make sure you know what their policy is on visiting them - whether you have to pay for access at all times, or if it is free if you pre-book / working hours. I'd really suggest somewhere local. Of course, you could run FreeBSD with a wake-on LAN motherboard and never have to visit your machine to reboot it ;-)

The important issue is bandwidth. You should find out the connectivity of their network (who they peer with, how many hops to a backbone, etc), the size of their pipe (e.g. 2Mbps, 10Mbps, 1Gbps), how many other hosts are on their network (if possible) - and maybe also what content they allow - you won't really want your server to be on the same network as a load of pr0n sites, for instance.

Another thing: UPS, its good. If the area where the machine is hosted doesn't have many power outages, and those that exist last just a few minutes, maybe its less important (e.g. in the southeast UK there are very few power supply problems - touches wood).

Firewall - nice, but you don't know how well they can administrate it! Find out what ports they block.

Do they have dedicated traffic limiters, monitors, etc - bad for you if they have them, for the obvious reasons! Check out the extra charge per MB of transfer if you go over your limit!

If you are in America, 9NetAvenue (www.9netavenue.com) looked okay, but I haven't really checked them out thoroughly. If you are in the UK, there are plenty of official providers, and smaller ISPs who will let you colocate your machine for cheaper if you ask nicely.

Going back to Dedicated Servers (UK), here is a quick cut-n-paste of what they offer:

Rack space for your mini tower or 19" rack server in our 1,000,000 million data centre.
5 GB of Bandwidth per month.
2 IP address as standard.
Free Server reboots.
Power connection through our Symettra UPS and 250 KW Backup Generator.
Power and RJ45 cable from your server to our Network.
Your system goes to a dedicated port on our Cisco network gear.
Access to your server by appointment.

Re: Co-Location Costs in the UK (none / 0) (#31)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jun 20, 2000 at 06:00:53 AM EST

What provider are you using in the UK that gives 200Mb a day bandwidth?

I've looked into Dedicated Servers, a part of WebFusion who I resell through, and have been tempted by that, apart from the bandwidth and price per Mb - it's only 2p a Mb, but if you go over by another 5Gb without realising (someone decides to WGet your server) then you're looking at another 100 a month.

Anyone else know of a good UK provider that has decent bandwidth limits?

Kevin Fullerton
Webspace UK

[ Parent ]
Try for <$100/month (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by jtobey on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 11:41:52 PM EST

Ever since I set up my own colo in '98, I've argued that there's an untapped geeky market for personal colocation services in the $50-100 range.

The last time I researched prices (June '99), Linuxspace offered colo for $50, but now they seem to push dedicated servers, and I see no mention of colos on the site.

I pay $99 for a Cobalt RaQ colo at AIT. The service has been passable (432 days uptime, but they mess up their billing a lot). However, the RaQ is not a server for hackers. Don't expect to do interesting things with it without taking it home for a few days. I plan to switch to a more reasonable machine when I find a cheap 64-bit server. (I don't want trouble 37 years hence. :) RaQ claimed to be 64-bit, but it runs in a 32-bit mode. Some places charge less for RaQs because they require little rack space.

Far Networks offered a $150 colo a year ago, but they've raised it to $175 (and only 64k bandwidth???) They have a $125 deal for a RaQ dedicated server. The sales guy seemed reasonable, and I'll bet they'd let you colocate a RaQ for under that.

Look around, I'll bet you can find something in the $50-100 range. If not, start a hosting service with room for 10,000 geek boxen at $50/month, and tell me where to sign up. ;-)

Re: Try for <$100/month (none / 0) (#22)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Wed Jun 14, 2000 at 10:03:01 PM EST

Ever since I set up my own colo in '98, I've argued that there's an untapped geeky market for personal colocation services in the $50-100 range.

There is definitely a substantial market for it. Although it would be tougher to sell in places like the Bay Area where the RBOC sells DSL as a loss-leader -- how do you compete against uncapped 1.5M/128K @ flat $50 a month? -- as long as you're offering better than 128K rates, I'm sure it would go over hugely. In fact, you could probably still penetrate the Bay Area market, since I hear that new DSL customers are getting shafted with DHCP on PPP-over-Ethernet. *shudder*

In fact, I'd go so far as to say there's a market for cheap, mediocre colo in general. It should be mindbogglingly easy to set up and sell backyard colocation and soak up the low end of the market. Compared to running an el-cheapo ISP, colo should be quick and easy to set up: no CPE to worry about, far less telecom hardware, considerably less support overhead, no end user telecom and services to maintain (auth, SMTP, POP, news, httpd).

I'd like to see this kind of thing happening on a small scale, spread all over. A few folks pitch in for pipe and space and sell off the excess to a handful of customers. Depending on how profit-oriented you are, this sort of budget colo could be done on a shoestring as a relatively unprofitable Act of Net.Kindness or as a fairly bankable bulk operation.

Then again, what do I know about running a business?

[ Parent ]

Re: Try for <$100/month (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Arkady on Thu Jun 15, 2000 at 02:26:09 AM EST

I hadn't been following this thread, but Rusty emailed me a link to this comment. This is a remarkably _good_ idea, in my opinion, and one which I've been working on. The reason we haven't already started is that our place's electrical supply is too weak to handle more servers.

We currently have 2 DSL lines and 2 Class C address blocks of which we're using mayby 1/4. We're looking to move down to the flats in Emmeryville, Oakland or Alameda and expand our setup to include colo. What I'd like to do is open a colo facility as a coop, where your monthly fees made you a voting member of the colo company and then contract the operation of the colo facility from that group to the consulting coop where I work.

What can I say, I just don't like normal business. I think that the users have a reasonable expectation that they should have a voice in these kinds of operations and coops are a well tried system for doing that ... ;-)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Re: Try for <$100/month (none / 0) (#24)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jun 14, 2000 at 10:43:37 PM EST

These guys have $150/month coloc.

[ Parent ]
I have the answer (none / 0) (#35)
by xmedar on Fri Nov 24, 2000 at 02:13:44 AM EST

The biggest hurdle is bandwidth check -


100Mbps for $1000/month, of course we need a location to actually terminate in, although if we could get space in their facility that would not be an issue, add in a remote reboot facility and bingo, all done.

[ Parent ]
my experience (none / 0) (#25)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 15, 2000 at 01:02:40 AM EST

There are a few affordable coloc places in NYC. I chose Alticom for my personal box ($200 40GB plan). I'm pleased with the service.

The company I work for uses Level 3, but they are way too expensive for a personal box.

SF Colo (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by Iago on Thu Jun 15, 2000 at 04:59:42 AM EST

I have 2-1u rackmounts at UPNetworks in San Francisco. My rates are *very good*. The company has gone thru a recent management change. I had a couple of problems in the past, but the current techs are very persistent. I handle all sysadmin for my two boxes from Missouri.

The rates used to be posted on the web-site, but are not any longer. So, you may need to aggressively negotiate your rates. I am being charged per 1u space + monthly bandwidth. I wish I could find another ISP in a different part of the country that has rates as good. (I would like the geographic redundancy.)

still happy with them? (none / 0) (#36)
by mfellows on Fri Mar 15, 2002 at 12:14:43 AM EST

I'd love to hear if their level of service has survived in tact this last year or so. Thanks

[ Parent ]
it's darn near impossible (4.80 / 4) (#29)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jun 19, 2000 at 11:30:43 PM EST

They all suck in one way or another. Exodus, GlobalCenter, Level3, Qwest, AboveNet, etc. However, some suck less than others. The folks I just mentioned suck far, far less than the public peering/shell provider hellholes like Maxim and 9NetAve.

Price definately doesn't guarantee you good service by any means, but the converse is much closer to the truth: low prices almost always guarantee poor service. Not always, but with the lowballers like Maxim, you get what you paid for and not much more. When 9NetAve received their ICANN license to handle domain registrations, they started a massive illegal junk fax campaign that resulted in more than a few lawsuits.

In the past, Maxim's network was regularly smurfed because it housed so many shell providers. This may or may not still be true, but either way, expect to be colocated with other folks who can't afford anything better.

Large colo providers will ream you on pricing compared to dedicated circuits. For example, GlobalCenter is $700-$1000/Mbps for colo bandwidth but $300-500/Mbps for dedicated circuits.

For new corporations, I always recommend hiring someone who has colo'ed at 4-5 different companies to help with the decision process. Lots of companies leave it up to the director of IT, who all too often picks the one with the most marketing literature (or the one with great physical security but no IP backbone).

Of the major providers, I would rank them:
InterNAP - the ASsimulator technology is marketing, but quality is still great purely because they buy transit from 10+ backbones in each POP and do rudimentary AS path prepending. Hold on to your wallet.
AboveNet - clueful upper management but NOC folks are in some cases not.
Exodus - IP network used to have serious problems but seems to have had a quality push lately.
GlobalCenter - not particularly notable, has a bit of the fat pipe to nowhere syndrome (lack of peering, especially low-latency peering)
Level3 - constant billing problems. Fat pipes to nowhere.
Qwest - fat pipes to nowhere.

Marketing folks will tell you whatever they want; SLAs are meaningless simply because all of the companies have more than enough cash to pay the SLA violation penality. Moreover, for commercial services, if you're down for 3 hours, $1000 or whatever is laughably insignificant.

Things I look for in corporate/ecommerce colo:
- Physical isolation. I've been in a shared cage where another company accidentally unplugged my equipment ("oops!"). Lesson learned. Get a cage or at least locked cabinet with protected cables.
- 24x7 staffed NOC

This is aside from obvious things, like regularly tested generators, physical building security, redundant fiber entry paths, etc.

Most colo companies will advertise the fact that you don't need to be geographically near your equipment. I'm sure this is true if you have 1 machine, but if you have a large commercial install, make sure it's within an hour drive.

BGP is not the end-all be-all. By getting multiple full route tables (buying transit from 2 or more providers) you won't experience an outage when one goes down, but BGP is based on political boundaries (autonomous systems), not speed or geography. It's much better at ensuring availability than it is at ensuring speed.

If you're inclined to ask a colo provider "How many hops are you from the backbone?", do two things:
1) Hire someone more clued to choose your colo vendor.
2) Read a decent book on TCP.

Hops are not inherently bad - they're IP nodes (funny that IP networks need routers, eh?) - and moreover, many backbones use MPLS tunnels and other tweaks to reduce the hop count.

For corporations, the solution is often to go to a fully carrier neutral facility (ie, no IP backbone) like Equinix, colo.com, Switch & Data Facilities/sdfc.net, coloco.com, CO Space, PAIX, or one of the others. Pick your colo facility, then buy transit independantly from a couple backbones.

I'd consider a large backbone if carrier neutral colo is too expensive. UUNET and Genuity (formerly GTEI/BBN Planet) both offer colo that I know of and I'm sure others do.

For individuals/low bandwidth use, I find that the best service is usually from a local ISP.

Re: it's darn near impossible (none / 0) (#30)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jun 20, 2000 at 02:51:02 AM EST

You love Internap but keep in mind their routing technologies make it damn near impossible to load balance across multiple providers.

[ Parent ]
Sneaking up... (none / 0) (#33)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 04, 2000 at 05:57:41 AM EST

Check out Inflow for reasonable co-lo prices and locations. I work for them, so I'll let someone else speak for us or just check out the info yourself at www.inflow.com -- hope it helps. More sites opening all the time...

Well, it is a discussion group after all... :)

At least two major backbone connections with BGP at each facility and Denver (where the company started) has five.

Smaller cities, decent services, one-on-one customer service when you stop by. Big on customer service, and no tossing you the keys to a small chain-link-fence cage in the far back corner of some huge facility and ignoring you unless you own Yahoo.

NOC staffed 24/7 at each facility, always a live body there to help you with a reboot/whatever.

I said I wouldn't brag, but it's a damn good place to work, and I'd want the kind of customer service we give if I were looking for co-lo.

Benefits and disadvantages (none / 0) (#34)
by thevox on Thu Jul 06, 2000 at 10:47:16 AM EST

The big problem with colocation is that if you do anything remotely important, from running a corporate website to hosting your own dinky box and using it for your email, it's imperative to have things like a non water fire suppression system, full temperature controlled facilities, redundant power and high speed connections etc. Personally, I can't go without my personal email for more than a few hours :) The problem is that this comes at a high price. I've started a colocation company which offers all of this at a reasonable price. I've leased space in a major datacenter in New York (Globix - www.globix.com) from which I can offer all of the wonderful things that they offer, but at a reasonable rate because we're reselling the service to the end user. Our website is very rough, but feel free to check it out at www.vhosting.com - it covers a good chunk of what we offer.

The main reason I started this company is because of my extreme unhappiness for colocation providers. You're stuck with the little guy who doesn't have more than 1 or 2 T1s, or the big guy who offers you everything under the sun and them some. My motto is simple - you use what you pay. If you want to place a little linux box to have your personal website and email, and it's not used much, you don't pay much. Our pricing starts out at $70/month with no setup fees. Simple enough. Our price list is on our page, and I'd be very interested to hear what anyone thinks of what we're offering, as I've said the page is pretty bad right now, but it should give yo uthe gist of it. Any suggestions are more than welcome, thanks!


Colocation Criteria | 35 comments (35 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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