Colocation is offering a green alternative for cloud users

When it comes to data centers there's now more choice than ever – sustainability is now a selling point.
3 September 2020

Colocation services enable enterprises to enlist cloud solutions. Source: Shutterstock

  • A surge in demand for cloud-based solutions has led to a surge in the usage of colocation data centers
  • The advancement of technologies enable data center providers to adopt more sustainable practices

Colocation, in simple terms, is like secured storage for data servers. Providers offer companies the physical space to store, manage, and run their data servers. Warehouse-like facilities are filled with towers of racks, rented out to any company dealing with large volumes of data. 

Generally, colocation benefits companies with limited resources to shelter in-house servers. Since it’s a shared facility, maintenance, power costs, cooling, communication, and floor space, is distributed among tenants. The global network of data centers by colocators also connects companies with cloud providers. The massive shift to teleworking has seen a spike in demand for these services. 

“The bulk of the activity we saw at the wholesale colocation level were hyperscalers; cloud companies and content providers taking up colocation space just to meet this increase in demand,” Pat Lynch, senior managing director of CBRE’s data-center division, told the Wall Street Journal

Colocation facilities are helping businesses sustain their operations amid the pandemic. This is made possible by hybrid cloud frameworks that provide modernized solutions for companies to take advantage of. Container-based hybrid cloud platforms help companies move existing servers to colocation facilities and allow companies to manage their data servers from the public cloud without the need for bespoke management tools.

Kubernetes allows applications to decouple from the specific infrastructure and help to segregate workloads to the public cloud and colocation infrastructure while managing in a unified way. 

But one of the major achievements of the hybrid cloud framework is giving companies the ability to choose vendors driven by green-energy initiatives. As data center providers are driven to adopt renewable energy practices, enterprises can continuously update their cloud architecture. Enterprises with on-premise data centers can now shut down their on-prem hardware and move to servers hosted in colocation facilities. 

Selecting colocation providers that operate on renewable energy will help businesses in lowering their carbon footprint. According to a white paper from Digital Realty, “it’s more critical than ever for enterprises to seek alternative energy solutions for their data center infrastructure,” particularly as increasing use of technology like IoT and artificial intelligence is amassing greater volumes of data than ever before.

Sustainability-focused data centers now offer advanced cooling systems which optimize air flow with smart sensors, while many in the colocation industry are switching to clean energy to power their facilities in efforts to offset the environmental impact of their sites.

The goal to “go green” has been pervasive among tech giants in the market. Key players such as Microsoft have doubled down on plans to become carbon negative by 2030. Retail giant Amazon vows to be carbon neutral by 2040.

The direction the tech landscape is heading towards seems promising, but for smaller businesses with limited resources, carbon neutrality may not be as simple. Colocators and cloud providers are teaming up to offer alternative options that are more environmentally friendly, and this can help the growing community of cloud users adopt more sustainable practices.