Carrier-Neutral Data Center: What is it and Why is it Important?

In today’s digital age, businesses of all sizes and industries rely on either on-premises or third-party data centers to store and process their critical data and applications, and the need for reliable data storage is only continuing to rise. After all, data production is booming, and it’s only going to grow. In fact, it’s predicted that the world will generate 181 zettabytes of data by 2025. The amount of new data generated daily is expected to reach 436 exabytes by 2025 – fascinating, right?

As the amount of data generated and processed continues to grow, the need to invest additional capital for on-premises data centers expands as well. Due to this, more organizations are turning away from managing on-premises data centers and are instead investigating third-party options that are easily scalable to keep up with their growth. In addition, third-party resources can take on the burden of other day-to-day IT management tasks.

As IT leaders do their due diligence, one of the key decisions that they must make when choosing a third-party data center is whether to use a carrier-neutral data center or carrier-specific facility.

So, let’s explore what exactly a carrier-neutral data center is and how it’s different from a carrier-specific facility.

What is a Carrier-Neutral Data Center?

A carrier-neutral data center (or network neutral) is a type of data center that operates independently without any specific affiliations to network providers. Due to this, customers can select services from a diverse network of providers, rather than a single partner’s portfolio.

By allowing customers to choose their own providers, carrier-neutral data centers can help reduce the risk of service outages. Also, being able to select from a variety of offerings and connect suppliers allows customers to experience:

  • Better pricing
  • Improved network resilience
  • Diverse connectivity options
  • Greater flexibility
  • More control over their network infrastructure

Carrier-Neutral vs Carrier-Specific: What’s the Difference?

While both are types of data centers, there are some important distinctions between carrier-neutral and carrier-specific (AKA single-carrier) options, such as the choice customers have in terms of network connectivity options.

In a carrier-neutral data center, customers have the flexibility to choose from multiple telecommunications carriers and service providers to connect to the internet, cloud services, and other networks. The facility in itself does not have a partnership with a particular carrier or service provider, and it allows its customers to move forward with the carriers of their choice. This gives the data center customers more freedom to choose the best fit services and solutions for their business needs. The availability of a diverse ecosystem of connectivity options/providers puts customers in a position to negotiate better pricing and terms.

On the other hand, in a carrier-specific data center, the data center is owned and operated by a specific carrier, and, typically, it only allows customers to connect to that carrier’s network. This can limit a customer’s choice of carrier and can result in higher costs for network connectivity. However, carrier-specific data centers may offer some advantages such as specialized support and faster and more direct connectivity to the carrier’s network.

Benefits of a Carrier-Neutral Data Center?

Due to the nature of the model, single-carrier data centers are known for being restrictive, which can be a disadvantage to organizations for numerous reasons. Carrier-neutral data centers, on the flipside, are known for boasting multiple benefits which make them a more attractive option for most companies, such as:

1. Diversity and Flexibility

Since this type of facility allows customers to choose from multiple network carriers and service providers, organizations have greater flexibility and control over their network infrastructure and connectivity. This can result in…

  • Improved performance
  • Lower costs
  • Greater reliability

2. Long-term Scalability

Unlike carrier-specific data centers, the carrier-neutral model is designed to be scalable, which means that customers can easily add or remove network connections as their needs change. This is a crucial benefit because it’s less complicated for companies to shift to a new provider within the data center if their current provider is unable to keep pace with their growth. This benefit can also help businesses avoid the costs and risks associated with over-provisioning or under-provisioning resources.

3. Reliability, Redundancy and Resilience

One of the most critical characteristics of a data center is its ability to maintain uptime and enable organizations to continue operating as usual with minimal hiccups in business continuity. After all, organizations risk not only hurting their brand reputation during outages, but also risk losing a significant amount of revenue.

Carrier-neutral data centers typically have redundant power and cooling systems, as well as multiple network connections for each carrier. This can help ensure that businesses have access to reliable network connectivity, so data is resilient and can still be accessed even in the event of a carrier outage, network outage, or other disaster.

4. Low Latency

Carrier-neutral data centers often have multiple points of presence (POPs) that support route diversity to multiple carrier POPs, CO’s, and MTSO’s (I.e. wireless/wireline access), which can lower latency, improve network performance, and, overall, provide the fastest connectivity possible.

5. Security and Compliance

These facilities have robust security and compliance measures in place to protect customer data and infrastructure. This can assist businesses in meeting regulatory compliance and help protect sensitive data from unauthorized access on top of their own security plan.

6. Competitive Pricing Options

Since there are multiple carriers and service providers available, network-neutral data centers often have more competitive pricing for network connectivity services over carrier-specific facilities – which allows IT leaders to reduce and optimize network infrastructure expense, allowing them to invest excess budge on other revenue generating projects.

In this setting, customers are also prone to receiving a higher level of customer service due to the availability of multiple connectivity options.

Why is Bandwidth Important to Consider?

Internet bandwidth is important because it determines the speed and capacity of a network connection between a device and the internet, which is critical for…

  • User Experience: With higher internet bandwidth, users can experience faster download and upload speeds, reduced latency, and an overall better experience. Afterall, there’s nothing quite as frustrating as freezing during a video meeting or a workload transfer hanging.
  • Productivity: Higher internet bandwidth can improve productivity by enabling employees to collaborate more efficiently and access cloud-based services and applications faster.
  • Access to Cloud Services: Businesses who use cloud-based services to store data and run applications, and these services require high-speed internet connectivity to function properly. With higher internet bandwidth, organizations can access cloud services more quickly and efficiently, improving productivity and competitiveness. 

Don’t Forget About the Internet Backbone

Another key piece that determines internet connection speed is called the internet backbone and selecting the right one is necessary for a high bandwidth. But what is it? It’s the spot where Tier 1 internet service providers (ISPs) mesh their high-speed fiber-optic networks together to allow traffic to move efficiently. Basically, it enables traffic to travel from its source along the most efficient path to meet its destination.

Why Should You Choose a Carrier-Neutral Data Center?

Single-carrier data centers offer limited options, which can be a headache, especially if a problem arises. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to carrier-neutral facilities, which makes them a more attractive option, among a variety of other reasons.

If you’re looking for the freedom for the best suited network connectivity option, optimal services, and long-term scalability for your business, you should consider choosing a carrier-neutral data center.

At the end of the day, however, the choice of which type of facility to use is solely dependent on the unique needs and budget of your organization, as well as your essential must-have elements in a modern data center.

Find the Right Connectivity Options

Finding the right connectivity options can be hard, but data center providers like TierPoint can help. We’re happy to guide you through your options so you find the best services that maximize your uptime, enhance your scalability, and safeguard your infrastructure. Learn more about our data center services here.

Interested in learning more about how a third-party data center can help you save money and accomplish your business objectives? Read our Strategic Guide to the Data Center and Colocation.

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