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Investing in a Server for Co-Location

Advice? Warnings? Recommendations? Prophecies?

     
5:00 pm on Sep 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi all. I've been using a dedicated server for a while but am starting to outgrow it. What I really want is ragin' dual processor machine but the monthly prices to rent a dedicated server like this are out of control.
So I'm looking at co-location. It looks like it will only cost a couple hundred a month to buy a server for a couple thousand, make the payments and rent the colo space. So it seems like a good deal to me.
So before I take the plunge and buy an expensive server I was hoping to get some advice.
Also, if anyone has specific recommendations about colocation hosts or places to buy servers (D3ll?) please sticky mail me.
Thanks!
3:20 pm on Oct 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have never done co-lo, but have don't something like it.

Way back when (a few years ago) three friends and myself got a business DSL line and hooked up some linux boxes to it for web, mail, dns servers. It all was going along fine till the DSL company went out of business and the hardware started acting up.

We have since moved to a dedicated server company (the biggest, I think... rhymes with smack face) and I must say, it is worth every penny.

The problem with co-lo, is it is your hardware. If it dies, you have to be there to fix it, upgrade it, swap it out. For us, anyway, that was just too much of a risk. I can deal with software remotely but you cannot debug a bad raid driver or ethernet card if you can't get to the box.

My suggestion is to not go co-lo. The short term save might be gone with long term outages.

BZ

4:02 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have done co-lo, though not for a website. This was for automated stock trading, where we had a need to be co-located near the trading facilities.

It's way different from a managed dedicated server. As mentioned above, service is your responsibility!

Go with reliable, commercial hardware meant for remote installation. I like IBM. I love IBM. I especially love IBM's on-site service.

Make sure you have full remote management features. With some hardware, you can even upgrade the BIOS remotely. Make sure you can at least watch the boot process remotely.

Make sure the colo facility will give you "hands" at a reasonable hourly rate.

For bigger projects, you might want to have an arrangement with a tech in the local area of the colo facility. We did this for a move from one facility to the other.

6:22 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So I'm looking at co-location. It looks like it will only cost a couple hundred a month to buy a server for a couple thousand, make the payments and rent the colo space. So it seems like a good deal to me.

The problem with colocating a single server is that say the power supply, motherboard, memory or another component fails...you are out of luck unless you keep spares at the datacenter and then pay pretty handsomely for hands-on repairs of datacenter staff.

There are only a handful of really good datacenters in the USA to even consider and they really are not that inexpensive when buying space for a single server (if you want a good datacenter, staff, and connectivity).

I'm not sure of your skill set, but server management, patches, etcetera is not how my time is best utilized. I have never found colocation a viable solution, no matter how hard I tried to make it a viable one...

7:18 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The problem with colocating a single server is that say the power supply, motherboard, memory or another component fails...you are out of luck unless you keep spares at the datacenter and then pay pretty handsomely for hands-on repairs of datacenter staff.

That's why I went with redundant power supplies and the IBM 4-hour service contract.

IBM keeps the spares, and they really do show up within 4 hours - at least in major cities (was no problem in lower Manhattan). Had to use them once, they swapped-out the motherboard, and we were back up.

A little word on power - a good data center will give you two independent rails. These will be powered off of separate UPS systems which are fed off of independent power feeds to the building.

If you have equipment with dual power supplies, you plug one into each rail.

I was lucky to be working with a small, "boutique" colo facility. The owner lived across the street, and was the tech support of last resort. A friendly and accommodating guy. He probably appreciated dealing with a more laid-back client that isn't your typical Wall Street type. ;)

 

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