A colocation centre or colocation center is a type of data centre where equipment space and bandwidth are available for rental to retail customers. Colocation facilities provide space, power, cooling, and physical security for the server, storage, and networking equipment of other firms—and connect them to a variety of telecommunications and network service providers—with a minimum of cost and complexity.

Colocating the server gives you the greatest flexibility. You get to choose the hardware configuration of the server and the software that goes on it. The hosting company maintains the connection to the Internet and deals with environmental details such as uninterruptible power supplies, fire controls, and air conditioning. On the other hand, you're responsible for that server's upkeep.

Colocation services and the need for them originated in the expansive growth and popularity of the Internet. As everyone from university researchers to corporate executives began relying upon the Internet for instantaneous communication and access to information, Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, found themselves in search for ways to maximize Internet connectivity. In the mid-1990?s, regulations that had previously hindered the growth of the Internet were set aside in favor of those that favored entrepreneurial start-ups. The first of colocation services was born and as it proved a successful and profitable way for businesses to maximize data storage and communication, more soon followed.

A short colocation service definition is a structure which functions as a kind of data center, where many companies locate or rent servers that have access to significantly large amounts of access to Internet bandwidth. Colocation facilities are located at key connecting points along the Internet “backbone,” facilitating much better connectivity than any single business could afford. Redundancy is provided within the system, thereby eliminating latency, which is loosely defined as the time delay in transmitting a signal between two operational systems.

A better colocation services definition would include an analysis of the security benefits of keeping critical data records in a colocation facility. Typically, colocation service providers use closed circuit television to monitor the facility and locked cages or cabinets for each customer’s group of servers. In the event there is no differentiation between groups of servers, employees will escort customers into and out of the building to prevent unauthorized tampering. Some colocation services use identification cards and PIN codes to allow access to the building and the equipment within it. The most high tech facilities employ biometric security measures such as fingerprinting and voice recognition.

These facilities have extensive power backups which take over in the event of a power outage, ranging from racks of battery backups to diesel powered generators. Some colocation services are actually connected to several different sections of a power grid, lessening the chances of any localized power failure affecting the facility directly.

Computers generate heat. Many computers in the same room can produce enough heat to cause them all to fail. Colocation facilities use powerful air conditioning systems for cooling and to regulate the amount of moisture in the air. This prevents condensation on internal components or, at the other extreme, the kind of dry air which can result in the discharge of static electricity, which can damage computer components.

Combined with extensive systems for detecting and fighting fires on premises, these security precautions assure that data and IT capability housed with a colocation service provider will remain safe and its service uninterrupted.