What is full rack colocation?

The global colocation services market grew by 13.7 per cent through the end of 2020. More and more companies are choosing to use a colocation data centre rather than holding their servers in-house.

If you’re thinking about moving your server into a colocation centre, you’ll need to determine how much rack space you’ll need. Let’s look at the different options, from per-unit colocation through full rack colocation.

What is colocation?

A colocation facility lets you rent space for your servers and other hardware. You own the equipment so you can invest in whatever type of hardware is best for your business. The colo facility provides physical space for it as well as power, physical security, and the network backbone to connect it resiliently to the internet.

The main difference from other hosting services is that you own the hardware. With traditional hosting services, you rent the server from them but you don’t necessarily have complete control over how it’s configured.

This can limit your options as well as cost more in the long term.

Differences in colocation space

Server racks get measured in terms of rack Units (U) and rack-mounted servers are designed to meet a standard size. A 1U server is approximately 19 inches wide, 36 inches deep, and 1.75 inches in height.

A “rack” is exactly what it sounds like — a rack that the servers get bolted into. They’re built to a standard size so they can house almost any brand and model of server. A typical full-sized rack contains 42U of space.

Per-unit colocation

Per-unit colocation is the smallest amount of space you can get. The most common options available at this level are 1U, 2U, and 4U.

These options are ideal for small businesses, start-ups, and anyone who doesn’t have huge resource requirements but still wants to host their server in a data centre. This gives you the benefit of the data centre’s infrastructure without having to lease more space than necessary.

Quarter rack colocation

Quarter rack colocation is a good option if you’ve got enough equipment to need more than 4U of rack space. Assuming the rack has a total of 42U, you’ll end up with about 10U in a quarter rack.

How much of that space is available for you to use depends on how the rack is configured. The spacing of the divider shelves between each rack unit uses some space and there may be other items using part of it as well.

With quarter rack colocation from Netwise, you’ll have 10U of space, which is fully segregated and lockable.

Half rack colocation

Half rack colocation segregates half of the total rack space for your use. In a 42U rack cabinet, you’ll have 20U of space to work with.

Full rack colocation

With full rack colocation, the entire rack is dedicated to your use. You can use the full 42U of space for whatever your needs might be, including:

  • Private cloud servers
  • GPUs for machine learning and/or artificial intelligence
  • VoIP equipment
  • Network storage

This also gives you more flexibility to install non-rack-mountable equipment using data cabinet shelves. For example, if you have a tower server that you want to install in your rack, it won’t necessarily be a standard U size.

Segregated Colocation vs Per-Unit

At a glance, full rack colocation (or any other size of segregated colocation) doesn’t seem that different from per-unit space. After all, if you need a full rack, couldn’t you just order 42U of space on a per-unit basis?

You could, but segregated colocation offers a few additional benefits compared to a shared rack.

First, with full rack colocation, you can lock the cabinet so only the IT personnel you approve will have access to it. With per-unit colocation, several users will likely share the same rack.

Second, you’ll have more flexibility with the equipment you install in the rack. Some devices only need 1U of rack space while others are larger and might need 2U, 3U, or more.

With a full rack, you can configure the layout any way you like to maximize your use of the space.

Full rack colocation can also be more cost-effective. A full rack doesn’t cost twice as much as a half rack so it might be the right choice even if you don’t need all the space immediately.

Finally, if you don’t need a full rack for your equipment, you might want to consider leasing the extra space to your clients or companies that you work with.

How to determine how much space you need

Figuring out how much colocation space you need is as simple as adding up the U heights of the servers and other equipment you’ll be installing in the rack. For example, if you have four 1U devices, two 3U devices, and two 2U devices, you’ll need at least 11U of rack space, plus some additional space for cable management and cooling consideration.

If your equipment needs more than 20U, full rack colocation is the only option that provides enough space. But if it needs less than 20U, you might still want to consider full rack colocation for the reasons we mentioned above.

If you work in certain industries, you might also need to consider regulatory restrictions when choosing colocation. In the healthcare or financial markets, for example, you might need to use segregated colocation to meet the compliance requirements for the security of your clients’ personal information, meaning that shared per unit colocation is not a possibility, even for a single server.

Where to turn for help with your colocation needs

If you’re looking for full rack colocation in the UK, Netwise can help. We offer a range of server colocation services ranging from 1U through full rack options.

We’ve been providing colocation services for over a decade and are one of the UK’s leading service providers. Get in touch with us today to discuss your colocation needs or to book a tour of our data centre facilities.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 56 to 58

Another period of exciting change and development on-site at NLE, as we continue to move towards phase one completion and readiness for the first clients to enter Data Hall 1.

We’ve seen the most notable changes in cooling and electrical, with major physical advancements in both of these critical areas.

Weekly overview

This latest period of work most keenly focused on major adjustments to our roof, through the installation of seven custom exhaust cowls which form the atmospheric extraction loop for the evaporative cooling system in Data Hall 1.

Roof Cowls
Here we see six of the seven extraction roof cowls for Data Hall 1 installed on the roof of the building, over the cold corridor
Roof Cowls
Another view of the cowls from the roof, which allow for hot air to leave the building when not required as part of the recirculation loop
Roof Cowls
The view inside one of the cowls, which are the high velocity variant, given the amount of air each fan can move at full speed – visible here are the self-closing lids and the bird mesh
Roof Cowls
This is the view inside the cold corridor, looking directly up at the custom containment frame which holds the fans and custom blanks – more fans will be added as required for each hall
Roof Cowls
A wider view from inside – this view of the fans and frame will soon be hidden, as a sub-ceiling is to be installed here, to keep cold intake and hot extraction separated
Roof Cowls
A closer look at one of the extraction fans, with the fibre glass lids visible through the blades – we’re using Ziehl Abegg fans throughout, as deployed to great success at London Central (some of which have been spinning without any interruption since 2015!)
Loading Bays
Although we’ve already shown the newly completed loading dock setup in the warehouse, here is a wider view of the first floor assembly, to match that seen on the ground floor
Our new master building fire panel is now in place, ahead of final commissioning – this new system is considerably larger and more feature-rich than the system it’s replacing
A closer view of the new building fire panel, which interconnects with all detectors, beacons and sounders, along with the extinguishant panels and VESDA systems in each data hall / plant room
Here we see our custom designed plinths being fitted and levelled in one of the LV electrical rooms, which will soon take our main switchgear
A view of the main switchgear plinths in the A-side LV room, now levelled and with the floor refinished to the new edges
This is a view across the A-side LV room, also showing the smaller plinths in place to house the UPS switchgear for this space
This is the same view inside of the B-side LV room
A wider view from the B-side LV room, showing the scale of the main switchboards (the B-side board is ~7 metres long!)
We’ve now begun preparing the main risers for cable ladder and other containment, which is set for installation next week ahead of flood cabling and commissioning the site throughout June
Here we see one of our custom designed cableway enclosures, sat atop one of the newly installed plinths – our custom Mardix transfer boards then sit on top of these enclosures, in each LV room and data hall
This is one of the custom transfer boards being pre-staged ahead of fitment to the plinth and cableway enclosure, as seen above
This is the transfer board for the B-side LV room in place and fully tied into the wall, ready for commissioning in due course
A closer view of the transfer board in the B-side LV room – the custom Netwise orange finish really pops against the monochrome technical space colour palette
The same board, but reflected in the A-side LV room

We’re very happy with progress over the past few weeks, as we march further into the final stage of deployment for phase one.

Much of the work this time around has been labour intensive and highly physical, resulting in massive adjustments to both the cooling and electrical sides of the project. This all sets up nicely for the building-wide under floor containment to be installed from next week, leading into a four week period of high-activity on-site as the facility is energised.

We’ve reached a relatively pivotal point in the project now, in that the dominoes we’ve been lining up throughout the last few weeks / months are now ready to be pushed, which will lead to massive change in the next four to six weeks. Ultimately, this next phase will take us through to onlining and commissioning, and put us in a position to bring the first client systems online, and launch the site as phase one (aka Data Hall 1) completes.

What else has been happening?

Aside to the usual build works, we’ve also been hard at work implementing wider improvements across our operation.

Our London Central facility enjoyed a deep clean last week, including a full re-coating of the anti-static floor in all technical spaces.

We upgraded our core routing fabric in Telehouse North, as we prepare to deploy additional capacity in Telehouse North 2 next month. This is something we’re very excited about, as we move into the newest building on the Telehouse Docklands campus for the first time. We’ll be upgrading our Harbour Exchange / LD8 and City Lifeline fabrics very soon.

Civil works have now begun on both our grid feeds and our main fibre incomers, with visible roadworks now underway in the area surrounding our new facility. We’re very excited to see these critical services edge ever-closer to the site, ready for connection and use.

What’s next?

In the next week or so, the energisation process begins. This will last around a month, taking us from the current state to having full and final energy pathways deployed within the facility. This includes the work in getting our new feeds from the grid to our building.

Netwise brings Zayo into brand new London East data centre

Netwise, London’s leading independent data centre operator, has today announced that international fibre infrastructure provider, Zayo Group, will be the first major Tier 1 carrier to officially connect into their new London East data centre (NLE), which is set for launch in mid-2021.

Netwise / Zayo

Zayo will provide diverse dark fibre routes into the new location, providing connections back to Netwise’s existing core nodes in Telehouse North and Equinix LD8.

With its central location in the East London data centre ecosystem, NLE will join the existing suite of major Telehouse and Global Switch campuses in the area, creating the best-connected data centre hotspot in the UK.

The new facility will extend capacity and diversity for Netwise, adding 13,000ft2 to their private data centre portfolio, joining the 11,000ft2 London Central site which opened in Bermondsey in 2016.

As well as providing customers with access to turnkey colocation and connectivity services, available across the Netwise data centre estate, clients will also have the option to lease dark fibre routes, allowing for the deployment of high capacity interconnection services for demanding applications. This will benefit Tier 2 carriers and managed service providers that need to interconnect active sites at over 100Gbps. The new connectivity service will be provided in addition to existing Layer 1, Layer 2 and blended transit services available at all on-net Netwise locations.

Netwise London East represents a new era of efficient, green data centre technology in the region, with a PUE design figure of just 1.05. This is an exceptionally low PUE for a colocation facility – particularly in London – delivered through the innovative application of latest-generation evaporative cooling systems. Similar to the existing London Central facility, the new site will be powered by 100% renewable energy sources.

“We’ve used Zayo to deliver high capacity links elsewhere on our network for quite some time, so this is a natural evolution of our growing relationship. The diverse route options provided by Zayo will enable the resilient interconnection of our new London East data centre with the rest of our core network,” said Matt Seaton, Senior Manager at Netwise. “We’re excited to see the positive impacts of this efficient, world-class facility benefit UK clients and beyond.”

“The newest collaboration with Netwise will enable Zayo to meet the growing demands for connectivity solutions in a major European hub,” said Yannick Leboyer, Chief Operating Officer, Europe at Zayo. “Our unique, low latency fibre network will provide high quality connections for service providers in the UK and across Europe.”

Hard hat tours of the new facility have now begun and can be requested by contacting enquiries@netwise.co.uk. The date of the official launch event is currently pending in consideration of pandemic restrictions, but is expected to happen in July 2021.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 52 to 55

A slightly later-than-planned update to the build blog this time around, thanks to time spent on more critical development works, as we head into a period of extended activity on-site at NLE.

The last four weeks have seen excellent progress across a varied range of areas, bringing a number of outstanding side-projects to a close, and solid advancements made on some of the remaining primary tasks.

Weekly overview

We’ll be keeping the update this week brief, so as to retain focus on real-world progress, however this post will serve as a general visual update to our readers, showing advancements across the various areas which have seen the most apparent change.

Front Gates
As seen at NLC, we’re blanking off the gate and turnstile sections of the front compound fencing, for added visuals and security – the turnstile sections are to follow
The final outstanding checkerplate has now been installed, seen here in the ground floor level loading bay
Loading Bay Guard
Both the ground and first floor level loading bays have had checkerplate and bash protection installed, allowing the forklift to bump into the stops here for accurate, guess-free loading
The intake louvres are now complete, pending their filter frames being installed in due course – here you can now see both top and bottom runs in place
Here is an external view of the two intake louvre runs for Data Hall 1
This is the continuation of the intake louvres beyond the first floor data hall fire escape route
Roof Sheets
This is our shipment of soaker sheets for the roof aperture profiles, which will take the extraction cowls
Roof Louvres
A view of some of our newly installed extraction cowls, as fitted to the roof of the cold corridor for Data Hall 1 – these will take warm exhaust air out to atmosphere when not required for recirculation, and are in this position to avoid any possible heat loops with the intake side of the primary cooling system
LV Plinths
Our LV rooms have preparations well underway to receive the main switchboards – the first part of this is preparing the open floor apertures for the incoming custom equipment plinths
LV Plinths
This is the main open trench for the primary switchgear in LV Room B – the custom plinths will sit inside this opening, with the floor finished to the front and back side of the frames
Here we see our custom PDU expansion boards which will affix to the bottom of our Mardix PDUs in the data halls, allowing for our circuit monitoring to be installed on each rack feed
We’ve now started installing the ceiling tiles, as overhead works on the fire detection and lighting systems reach their conclusion – this has really started to finish off each room, giving a better indication of the finished surfaces
Here we see the tiles installed in position above the eventual location of Pod 2, inside Data Hall 1

The most keen focus has been spent on the cooling system, in terms of the handling of air in and out of the building.

Beyond the visible updates as presented above, we’ve also been able to continue with underlying developmental plans for the remaining work phase, including aspects of power and connectivity.

Our fire contractors are now close to completion, which will be another major system milestone checked off very soon, as we march towards client deployment readiness.

What else has been happening?

It’s been a bumper start to Q2 here at Netwise, as we help a wide range of new and existing clients grow and deploy in our London Central facility. We’ve also started showing new prospects around London East as it moves nearer to completion, with a range of racks in the first pod now allocated to incoming clients.

We’re also close to pushing out a press release announcing our first major on-site carrier, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.

What’s next?

Works are continuing on power, fire and connectivity. These are the main focus as we move towards the summer months, and to our forthcoming launch – watch this space for updates on when our first on-site events will be held.

How much colocation space do you need?

Your business has grown, and you’ve been hoarding every bit of data you can get on the off chance that it will help you in the future. Now, you’re running out of space, and you’ve started looking for server options. In passing, you hear a new term, “server colocation,” and it sounds exciting!

Just one problem, what is server colocation, and how much space do you need to get started?

Before we hop into the definition, ask yourself, will you be contracting with a cloud server company, or will you be building a server in your office? If you said “in my office,” then congratulations! You’ve come to the right article. 

What is colocation?

At its very base level, colocation refers to renting space for server equipment in a data centre with other businesses.

More technically speaking, you need to make sure that you have room for all of your business’ essential technical needs and then some. That means the right amount of space to deploy your systems both now and to cover immediate-term growth.

So, let’s go over how much space you’ll need for every common type of organisational deployment, so you can plan correctly for your own colocation projects.

For the smaller company, Per Unit Colocaton

When a business is just starting to invest in colocation space, or if they’re smaller and don’t need that much physical capacity, they will usually buy space by the U (or Unit).

So, what’s a Unit? One “Unit” of racked colocation space is approximately 1.75″ tall. Servers and related equipment are designed to accommodate rack units, by mounting into the rack on ears or rails. The smallest space denomination is 1U, or a single rack unit. This would accommodate one server or small network device.

Other common space allocations include 2U and 4U, which cater for larger servers, or small clusters of hardware.

Stepping up in the world? Go for a Quarter Rack

The next step up in the server colocation world is a quarter rack (typically 8-10 Units of useable rack space). 

A quarter rack is for small to mid-sized businesses that need to deploy slightly larger systems, comprised of multiple hardware sets. This may include a firewall, a couple of switches and a small cluster of servers and/or storage arrays. 

So, why is this called a “quarter rack?” Well, the typical server rack consists of 42 Units of space. A quarter rack has ~25% of the full rack segregated and lockable, dedicated to you alone as the sole tenant.   

A quarter rack with Netwise starts from around £164 per month with the minimum 1 amp power allocation.

Bigger is better: consider a Half Rack

Half rack colocation is excellent for mid-sized businesses that’re seeing a lot of growth. Usually, a half rack contains around 20U of server space.

A half rack will cost you £299 per month with the minimum 2 amp power allocation. This gives you a greater degree of deployment flexibility when compared with a quarter rack, and also allows for more power-hungry systems to be deployed with ease.

The Big Kahuna: Full Rack Colocation

Full-rack colocation is the best for larger companies that have more substantial systems, which tend to throughput lots more data.

This solution is ideal for growth, giving an excellent platform from which to grow, and the greatest amount of available in-rack power. A full rack, with the minimum 4 amp power allocation, is £439 per month.  

Full racks let you expand as you wish into a 42U enclosure, offering the most control over airflow, and best installation practices.

To get an enterprise-grade rack with locking cabinets at Netwise, we would advise you to call our customer support to talk about a custom solution.

What are your server colocation needs?

Whatever your needs, we’re the best colocation company for you! Finally, you can expand your business with peace of mind, knowing that you will not be running out of space anytime soon. 

Not 100% sure what you need, or are you confused by anything in this article about server colocation space? You can feel free to give us a call at any time!