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Colocation Pricing Questions

How Much Data Center Colocation Space Do You Really Need

While there are several different options available when it comes to data management solutions for your business, colocation is one of the most popular among small- to mid-sized companies, as well as many large corporations. While there are indeed certain disadvantages to this model, the advantages are overwhelming.

Colocation services offer scalability, efficiency, and easy management along with a plethora of other advantages, making it one of the most viable options for your company’s data needs. 

As you may already know, colocation data centers lease out their services based primarily on the amount of space occupied by the hardware of the client. While there are other factors that help determine pricing, this metric is most commonly used to determine how much a data center client will be charged each payment cycle. 

Rack Space: What is it, and how is it measured? 

In a data center colocation facility, occupied space is measured in terms of rack space, or the amount of space hardware takes up on a standard server rack. There are several different units of varying size that are used to measure rack space, and how much you use will depend primarily on your business and your specific data management needs. 

While determining exactly how much your company will pay on a monthly basis can be a complex and somewhat confusing process, the basic concept is actually quite simple. The more rack space you use, the less available space there is in the colocation center, and the more power will be consumed by the data center as a whole. If you need a lot of space, you’ll end up paying more. If you can get by with less, you might save some money. 

Rack space is measured in terms of single tray units (the amount of space occupied by a single tray in a server rack enclosure) and racks (an entire rack in a colocation center). Since colocation leases are highly customizable, these two units form the backbone of most colocation center pricing scales. 

In addition to these two basic units, there are also more precise measurements of space that can be used to further tailor your data colocation space to best fit your business and budget. In the following sections, we’ll take a look at each of these different units of data colocation center space, and discuss whether or not they will meet the needs of your company. Let’s begin! 

Colocation Rack Space

Unit Allocation 

The smallest measurement of space in a data colocation center is one unit, denoted as 1U in data colocation shorthand. The measurement that this refers to is the amount of space occupied by a single tray in a data center rack enclosure and is roughly equal to 19 in. (48.2 cm) in width by 36 in. (91.4 cm) in-depth and 1.75 (4.4 cm) in height. 

If your data colocation needs can be met without using larger units of measurement, there are other supplementary measures that rely on this basic one unit (1U) metric. Using measures of space equal to 2U, 3U, 4U, and so on can help you tailor your data center usage to the exact amount of space you will require, without paying more monthly colocation fees than necessary. 

For many modest startups, 1U is initially large enough for extremely basic data management needs but typically is expanded to occupy more units as the company grows. For a basic server set up at a small but growing company, four units may be able to handle most data management tasks that the company faces on a daily basis. If the company grows past this point, chances are they will need to invest in more space. 

The price of one unit of space in a data colocation center can vary widely depending on the geographic location of the data center, the bandwidth available to clients, and other factors, but it rarely exceeds $100 – $250 a month per unit. As your company grows, however, you will most likely need to expand into amounts of space that are measured in terms of rack enclosures rather than single tray units. 

Rack Allocation 

Once a company reaches a certain point, single units of space are likely going to prove too expensive to maintain when compared to the more advantageous pricing of quarter racks, half racks, and full racks. These units of measurement are obviously substantially more spacious than single tray units but offer a lower cost per unit of space allocated. 

A ¼ rack allocation is the smallest rack unit, consisting of 10U of theoretical space and 8-9 units of practical space. This is typically more than sufficient for small companies with average data management needs and medium companies with undemanding data management needs. The price of a ¼ rack of space in most data centers can range from $300 to $500 a month, with space in more centrally located data centers typically costing substantially more.

Half rack allocation is the next step up, with ample space for most small- to mid-sized companies with a range of data management needs. A typical ½ rack contains approximately 20U of space, with the practical amount of available space being slightly less overall (between 18 and 19 units). Pricing for this amount of space also varies, but typically starts around $500 a month and rarely exceeds $800 a month.

For mid-to-large-sized companies or small companies with extremely demanding requirements, full racks offer a great deal of space and scalability at a highly advantageous price-per-unit. Paying for a full rack in a colocation data center provides you with between 38 and 40U of space, making it unlikely that you’ll need to lease more space until your company grows very large. A full rack typically starts around a minimum of $900 but can range as high as $2,000 a month for a rack in a centrally located data center. 

Private Cages

While these words may evoke images that aren’t even tangentially related to data colocation, private cages are both things you may need to consider before long. As your company grows larger and your data management requirements are gradually but steadily increased, it may become a necessity for a variety of reasons. 

Private Cages are quite simple in practice; for companies leasing entire racks of space, the option to have that rack dedicated exclusively to your company can be very attractive. Leasing a Private Cages ensures that your company and only your company will have access to your colocation space, eliminating many security and privacy concerns. 

The logical successor to a private cage is a space with multiple racks that is housed in a locked enclosure inaccessible to anyone but representatives of your company. Private cages often include additional per-unit pricing incentives and could be the best option as your company grows past its initial stages of development. 

Private Cage Colocation Services


In general, the economy of scale applies here as well as it does in most other areas of the business world. The more of a product you buy, the lower the cost of each individual unit, effectively netting you a lower overall cost per unit as your company grows ever larger. When considering the scalable and fiscally attractive nature of data colocation, it makes sense that you might want to purchase more space from the beginning rather than starting with smaller 1U or 2U increments. 

Before you make any decisions about your space requirements, it’s generally best to discuss the issue with both your in-house IT department or with the data center colocation specialist. They’ll help you determine exactly how much space you need, as well as the most advantageous balance between the preservation of your budget and the efficiency of your data management solution. We hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of colocation space requirements! 


About Volico’s Colocation Solutions

Volico Data Centers provides highly secure and scalable colocation solutions to meet your business’s data center space, power, and connectivity need as your business grows. Discover how Volico’s built-to-suit colocation solutions can provide your business flexibility to grow within your own secured space while avoiding the hassles of operating your own data center environment. Volico’s colocation solutions are designed from the ground up for the best possible customer experience.

A Reliable and Secure Home Your Data Can Trust!

Have one of our friendly experts contact you to begin the conversation. Discover how Volico can help you with your Colocation Data Center needs.

•  Call: 888 865 4261
•  Chat with a member of our team to discuss which solution best fits your needs.

Volico Data Centers Colocation Solutions

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