I finally made the decision to move the web server that powers this site and the bulk of my online businesses out of my office and into a collocation facility. This was a big step for me since I’ve been running this server out of my office on the Verizon FIOS business network for the last two years and it generates a good bit of daily income.

I’m located in Lewisville, Texas so it was important that my collocation facility be located in the DFW metroplex, be reasonably priced, and have a good reputation. After searching some of my favorite online discussion forums, I finally settled on located in Irving, Texas. I found several good online reviews, lots personal unsolicited testimonials and very few negative reports. Their pricing to house my Dell SC430 tower server and my small firewall was $109.00/month with a $50.00 one time setup fee. My plan includes 1000gb of transfer which is plenty for me. I estimate I’m using less than 100gb/month now serving database driven web pages.

I placed my order on Monday night and was contacted by a sales rep via email the next day. I gave them details about the equipment I would be bringing and scheduled a time to come by. The sales/tech reps were responsive and helpful. They assigned me IP information the same day, and I was ready to go.

I brought my equipment to them at noon on a Saturday. There were several technicians in the building, and I had to be buzzed in to access the building. After being greeted by the technician in the monitoring room and showing my ID, another technician came out after about 15 minutes to help me get setup. They were prepared for my arrival since I had scheduled in advance and were ready for me when I showed up.

Talking to the technician, I learned that I would have 24 hour access to the building and that there was always someone there to open the front door and let me in. I could use the building’s wireless access with my laptop, and there were several kiosk computers in the lobby available to me as well. If I needed hands-on access to my machine I was allowed unrestricted access to the cage where my server was located, and I could use a cart with monitor/keyboard/mouse setup as needed.

Setup on my server did not go very well since there was an issue with the network cable assigned to me and the VLan designated for my equipment. I was there for a little over three hours – 20 minutes of that was actually bringing in and plugging in my equipment, and I spent another 30 minutes configuring my router and server. The remainder of that time was spent waiting on the technician to make changes to the cabling and VLan. Ultimately, however, I had scheduled 1-3 hours to install the server and I didn’t have any other plans for the day so this wasn’t a huge issue. With this kind of thing, I would prefer it be done right rather then quickly.

While I was waiting, I took a few pictures with my phone and plugged my laptop into the network my server was on. I ran a speed test and was pleased with 20mb+ speeds (both up and down).

On returning home, I found that I have access to a nice customer web interface that bundles billing and ticket systems together, and can be used to initiate a hands-on reboot (a free service). The system also has some nice traffic monitoring reports so I can see how much traffic is being generated. I particularly like their 15 minute reboot promise.

As of writing this article, my server has only been online with colo4dallas for a few days, so I can’t speak to their uptime or reliability. I was pleased with their facility (conditioned power, secure access, etc.) as well as their online communication and reporting.

My only concern with my experience is security related. Although the facility is well monitored, once I had shown an ID I was free to roam, look at and touch most of the other customer’s servers in the building. The technician did have to open a locked door to the cage where my server was located, but once there I could have plugged in to any of the 140-150 machines in the same cage. Other cages in the facility were mostly closed to me, but power cables and network connections were reachable through the bars and I was free to tour the entire floor. Since I didn’t pay extra for a locked cage, I don’t have too much to complain about. With all the cameras and ID requirements, I don’t anticipate any issues, but I had a lot of free time in the cage waiting for setup and it came to mind.

My impression with the colo4dallas is positive, and I’m looking forward to using their service. Moving the server out of my office will cut back on my electric bill, will reduce my uptime concerns, and will give me more bandwidth to work with.

Some pictures:

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