What happens when you host your digital records?
That depends on who you work with and how they set up their hosting platforms.
When you work with us and choose our Digital ReeL platform, you get a colocated hosting system that gives you backup disaster recovery safety and other benefits.
In this article we’ll describe digital hosting, how you can use a hosting platform, the meaning of a colocated site, and benefits of colocation.
Digital Hosting Explained
Digital hosting refers to a platform or application that stores your digital images and data. Your files are accessible from the web and the server farms that store the data are located somewhere other than on your individual computer or in your office.
Compare this to an “on-site” version of an application. In this case, you might have a single instance of a product downloaded and installed on your computer.
The most relevant example of hosting for us is Digital ReeL. Most of our clients use the hosted version of our application, so while they’re logging into the platform from their computers and offices, which are spread all over the country, the actual images and data are stored on servers in two California locations.
Uses For A Hosting Solution
Hosting has more benefits than just the “I don’t have to deal with hardware” part of it. That’s major, because you don’t have to buy and support the infrastructure to even allow hosting – but it’s just one of the puzzle pieces.
Hosted records could be your primary access for the data. When you need something, you pop into your web browser, log in, and find the documents you need. Boom, done.
A hosting solution might be your alternate access mechanism – maybe you already have an in-house platform that your staff uses for document management, but sometimes you need to go to a secondary solution for a specific reason.
Hosting applications are great for backup disaster recovery solutions. If your data is stored locally, such as on a local network, and it gets destroyed somehow, having a hosted backup could be essential to continued operations in the event of disaster.
Lastly, hosting your records might just be a storage solution. You don’t want to keep physical copies so you scan them, and you don’t want to keep terabytes of data on your local network. The fix? Hosting.
Single Site vs. Colocated Sites
Single site hosting means all of your data is stored at one location. Yes, these files are hosted and “in the cloud,” but the actual data has to actually be pulled from somewhere. That’s the server farm. In this instance, there’s only one bank of servers, and typically that means in a single office or building.
Some of these sites are massive and are built to take a beating in case of emergencies or disasters. We utilize the NTT Sacramento facility as our colocation partner. So even though it’s technically a single location, it’s impressive.
Colocated hosting (or “colo” as we like to call it) means that your data is not stored at your facility. Specifically to BMI, we use this term to mean that it’s hosted at multiple locations because we have two data centers: our primary data center in our Sunnyvale, CA headquarters, and our colo site at NTT Sacramento is our secondary data center.
The Benefits Of Having Your Hosted Data Colocated
When your hosted data is colocated, you get some major benefits.
First, if one of the hosting sites (the servers or network at one of the locations) goes down, the backup is still available. You won’t even know there’s an issue because you’ll still be able to access your records as normal.
Second, the colo sites are typically separated both geographically and digitally. This means that if there’s a disaster in an area that destroys a server location, or there’s a ransomware attack that affects a data center, that same disaster shouldn’t affect the colo site(s).
Lastly, speed of access is improved with colo hosting. When you access your digital hosting platform, you’re not necessarily choosing which one you’re accessing. Instead, you’re “pinging” the application and it’ll route you to one of the sites, generally the one with the fastest response. In effect, you’re getting the quickest site every time you use the application.
Is Colocation Required?
Just because data isn’t colocated doesn’t mean it’s not good. But having your data hosted at two independent sites gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling in your gut, just in case something happens to one of the data centers.
If your hosting partner is utilizing multiple sites to store your data, it might be more expensive that using someone with a single site. Each data center requires hardware, servers, storage space, cooling, and more to operate. The more copies you have, the more space you’re using, the more it costs.
You need to weigh the ups and downs of each option:
- What happens if a data center goes offline?
- How often are you accessing the records?
- Can you deal without having your data for an hour? A day? A week?
- What happens if a natural disaster destroys a data center? Do you have a backup?
Answering these questions will help guide you toward choosing a hosting partner that’s the right fit.
Ready to learn about hosting your digital records? Call us at 800.359.3456 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you find out if colo hosting (and Digital ReeL) is right for you.
Digital ReeL is our hosting application mentioned in the blog. It’s a simple and effective for maintaining your archival records in a secure and accessible web environment.
“How Does Digital ReeL Host Your Data?” describes what you can expect from our Digital ReeL hosted solution: security, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness.
“Digitization & The Importance Of Historical Context” covers the topic of capturing the historical context of your records when you scan them. Especially with microfilm, microfiche, and aperture cards, capturing the original hard copy material in a digital format can be critical for older and archival records.