MainColocation ⁄ Racks and units rental in Europe

Racks and units rental in Europe

European data centers often offer their services to companies that urgently need to expand their infrastructure or wish to purchase server equipment for long-term rent (leasing). Companies that have physical server equipment which, for various reasons, cannot be installed in the office or its transportation is extremely difficult are also interested in renting this type of hardware. In these cases, the issue is solved by a long-term rent with the possibility to purchase the equipment in the future (leasing or HaaS model).

Server rack rental

They rent a space not only for a dedicated server, but also for one or several units in a server rack, an entire rack or several server cabinets in a closed box. Regardless of how many units are rented, clients are provided with full packages of services on the use of hardware capabilities, uptime, equipment monitoring, and technical support (including “remote hands”).

Features of renting a rack space for a server

Despite the multitude of data centers in Europe, the choice of the optimal location for server equipment requires knowledge of nuances. You need to know what to pay attention to in the first place, how to properly compare service providers to make the best decision.

We analyzed the offers of 20 major providers and prepared a list of questions for those who are looking for a data center to rent a rack for a server or individual units. The client’s task is to find the optimal rental location without overpaying for unnecessary services, but taking into account all the needs of business development.

The basic criteria are:

  • data center reliability level (Tier III and above);
  • hardware fault tolerance, security, uptime;
  • client-oriented staff, lack of bureaucracy, and possibility to work with a personal manager responsible for specific projects;
  • height of racks and number of units in them (42/47);
  • transport accessibility of the data center;
  • guarantees, SLA;
  • access control to server equipment.

The selection issue is solved by comparing the capabilities of data centers and lessee needs, and by comparing the technical characteristics of data centers. In general, it can be said that more and more data centers demonstrate high reliability, but at the same time the cost of renting a rack server varies greatly due to the increase of electricity costs, the choice of service package, and the presence (or absence) of hidden costs. In the end, it is not the cost of the rent that matters, but what is included in it and what is the quality of the services received.

Changing data centers and the accompanying migration is a big issue for many clients. The service providers that do not charge consulting fees and help clients with preparation for migration stand out in the crowd. They conduct audits, plan the project, help with the selection of custom solutions and take on the analysis of possible risks. Employees of the provider company offer free assistance with migration from the countries closest to the data center, independently performing all the paperwork for contracting, preparation, transportation and installation of hardware.

Attention should be paid to the technical provision of the data center as well, for example, to the monitoring systems used in the data center for preventing emergency situations. Monitoring system controls power supply, UPS status, refrigeration machines, air conditioners, ventilation. It collects data on humidity and air temperature in the machine room, smoke formation, and notifies of any accidents and any changes that differ from the standard. Due to the fact that the main cause of problems is always a human factor, monitoring provides for video recording of everything that happens on the territory of the data center.

What should be considered when renting a rack server

What should be considered when renting a rack server

Number of units. Classic server racks come in 42/47, less often 48-unit size. Each unit has a height of 1.75 inches. A single-unit server is always smaller so that it can be quickly put in or taken out of the rack. Keep in mind that first and last unit are rarely used because of their proximity to wires. The lower one always houses UPSs, routers, and rack-mounted ABPs. Electric socket blocks are most often placed on the back/side of the rack or placed in an intermediate micro rack for small hardware. The placement of electric sockets should be considered, as they can also be placed in the front. This affects the amount of space available inside the rack.

Server racks vary in depth. Reducing the size decreases the ease of placement and use. Custom racks require a special approach to their placement, because they not only need to be compactly placed, but also to provide proper cooling for each unit.

Power supply standards require the use of 19’’ power supply filters that are protected against overloads and short-circuit. Additionally, power distribution units (PDU) with monitoring (including the ability to connect remotely), as well as monitoring and control (makes it possible to turn electric sockets on and off individually) are used. The number of electric sockets in a rack may vary, so there may not be enough sockets to accommodate many single-unit servers.

All data centers have a standard 16/32A power connection, regardless of the rented units, but the number of extension cords differs. For example, for 1U there may be 1 extension cord 16A, 2 x 230V, for 14U – 1 extension cord 16A, 3 x 230W, for the whole rack – 3 extension cords 16A, each 9 x 230W. Usually, a maximum of  4 connection channels per rack can be provided.

The power allocated to the rack is typically 5-15 kW. The more power, the more effort required to dissipate heat and the chance of the rack overheating. The presence of a raised floor solves this issue, but it is unlikely to be possible to dissipate more than 5 kW of heat even with a half-meter high raised floor. It is optimal to connect hardware with two power supplies to two power lines separated by a considerable distance for safety reasons. When connecting a single power supply unit, it is required (if the data center does not provide its own) to purchase a rack-mounted automatic backup input.

The cost of electricity refers to implicit payments. For example, Germany is home to some of the best European Internet hubs, but the country’s electricity rates are the highest in Europe (along with Denmark): the average price of 1 kWh in 2023 is €0.53-0.59. In some data centers, power calculation is based on the formula of €0.49 per month and kWh plus VAT (19%). It should be understood that the consumption of 1 kWh by the hardware requires the data center to spend 1.5 kWh (this is how much is taken by cooling systems, uninterruptible power supply, losses on wires, etc.). The higher the certified level of the data center, the higher the rental cost.

Basically, the client pays for electricity consumption on a pay-as-you-go basis (in most configurations where the number of rented units is four or more). But in some data centers, electricity is included in the cost of rack space (for example, the threshold is defined as 200W), so if it is exceeded, billing becomes dynamic. Placement of a server, rack, or unit means reservation of certain capacities, for which the reserve of generators and UPS, the number of electric sockets, and different levels of reservation are calculated. When renting 1U data centers take into account the capacity of the hardware and, accordingly, how much power is required to maintain it.

If renting a 1U in European data center, as a rule, the client can get basic bandwidth capacity/port from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps, redundant power supply or power supply, the cost of which is included in the unit rental price. In some data centers, standby power supply for 1-6U is available for an additional cost.

Some data centers offer the client to calculate the rental cost on the calculator by himself, based on the number of required units, the estimated amount of power consumption, the location of the data center, the type of connection, the speed of Internet access without traffic limitation and the number of IPv4 addresses.

Physical protection of racks. In the data center you can rent both: open and individually locked racks. You can get to the server hardware only if the lessee (owner of the hardware) issues a temporary code for short-term access. When selecting a closed rack, it is important to assess how well the cooling is organized, so that the server does not overheat and does not fail.

For safe reception and sending of Internet packets, the traffic is filtered by firewall, and then it is distributed to rack-mounted routers  and consumers. Additionally, if there is a possibility of targeted powerful DDoS attacks, DDoS-Protection traffic scrubbing systems are connected. Most data centers limit the provided traffic volume by introducing a system of additional payments when exceeding the limit. It can be either 200 Mb or 2TB. It should be taken into account that the channel capacity is taken into account when choosing a tariff, for example, in the range from 1 to 10 Gbps, and the traffic accounting can be both fixed and paid on the basis of consumption.

Few data centers are willing to provide internet without additional fees and download restrictions with high bandwidth, fixed cost and speed. Internet connection is possible through any other selected providers, regardless of the service provider.

Each server has one IP address by default, regardless of whether a single unit or the entire rack is rented. Some data centers allocate 2xIPv4 addresses in the same way. If necessary, you can purchase additional blocks of IPv4 addresses (from 5 to 253 addresses) or use subnet routing. Ordering the required number of addresses is paid for through the billing panel or agreed through the ticketing system. However, the use of virtual machines significantly increases the number of MAC addresses, so data centers may limit their number in some cases.

By ordering a turnkey migration, the client can focus on more important business tasks, leaving the issues of ordering, delivery, installation and connection of hardware to the provider. The opportunity to shift some of the problems to the data center not only saves time, but also money.

If you migrate on your own, you will need to contract various firms that only do part of the work. The cost, moving time, associated overhead and organizational costs increase. You have to deal with logistics, paperwork, approvals, negotiations with many contractors, etc. on your own.

For those clients who do not have spare money to purchase a server, service providers offer a service of long-term rent of both hardware and peripherals with the right of redemption (leasing). In this case, the contract between the client and the provider is concluded directly, and the hardware, at the end of the term, either becomes the property of the client or is replaced by another, newer one.

The service of allocating cloud server infrastructure with the right of redemption (or selection from already available) of hardware by the provider can be carried out within the Hardware-as-a-Service (leasing) model. HaaS reduces the financial burden on the company and allows the realization of custom projects of any complexity. When the hardware is purchased at residual value and becomes the client’s property, the company pays only for colocation and technical support services.

A big advantage of a long-term rent is the warranty and post-warranty service offered by the provider. Paying a small monthly insurance fee ensures that any hardware (regardless of its value) will be replaced free of charge in case of failure. You can calculate the cost of long-term rent with the right of redemption (leasing) by contacting the experts of our portal.

What is more profitable to rent: a whole rack or a set of rack spaces for servers?

Data centers rent out machine room areas of 60×110 cm or 80×120 cm (for deep server racks). This area can accommodate a server and peripherals with a total power of no more than 20 kW.  For companies that operate a fleet of their own IT hardware: racks, servers, uninterruptible power supplies, PDUs – the rental cost is reduced. The solution is advantageous when the company:

  • works with custom hardware;
  • regularly changes the number and configuration of servers within racks;
  • specifies strict requirements for event control (hot swap, frequent configuring of the server rack);
  • specifies strict security requirements that allow only corporate hardware to be placed inside the rack without any unauthorized hardware of other clients;
  • plans to expand the fleet of IT hardware within one machine hall.

In some cases, medium and large companies with dynamically growing infrastructure require to develop a separate project for server and telecommunication hardware placement. In this case, increased fault tolerance, reduction of non-strategic costs, and prospects for further growth are taken into account.

If the company does not have its own hardware and software complex with all additional components, it makes sense to rent a rack or several units, for example 1-3U.

Renting a whole rack is always offered to clients with a discount and additional benefits. For example, the volume of kW/h provided may be higher than if the client rents a set of units. Let's imagine that 300W are allocated to each unit, which means a total of 12.6 kW for the entire rack. If you rent a turnkey 42U, a maximum of 15kW will be allocated for the rack, but the payment will be charged on the basis of electricity consumed. This means that it is possible to rent a rack, actually paying only 200W or 10kW. The cost will dynamically change as power consumption increases or decreases.

It is advantageous to rent a whole client rack in a data center when a company is planning a rapid expansion, it requires to frequently change server equipment and perform testing. Having at your disposal a 42U rack, you have to pay a high rental fee, for example, around €700. Rent of 1U costs around € 60, but when converted to 42U per-unit rent of the rack will already cost around €2520 plus all other variable costs.

The owner of the rack receives certain benefits, most often – an unlimited traffic. That is, at a certain point the client should calculate: if he fills half of the rack at once when moving in and plans further expansion or tests, it is more financially advantageous for him to rent the whole rack at once.

As a result, renting half of the rack per-unit or the whole rack becomes equal in cost, but not in profit and security options. The client receives preferences in terms of power and cost, paying only for the electricity consumed, has unlimited traffic, and the rack is at his full disposal for easy configuring. In the rack he can place all the hardware in a single area without spreading it across the machine room.

When you rent a whole rack, it is locked with a transponder key. Also you are allowed to use video cameras to monitor it. You can contract a “remote hands” service, delegating server maintenance to the service provider’s engineers. Such rentals are in demand by service, e-commerce, industrial and manufacturing companies.

The cost of “remote hands” varies between €90-100 per hour. A lower price is most likely just a marketing trick. For example, some providers indicate on the website the cost of €70 per service. Is it a good deal? At the same time, the small print at the bottom explains that the price is for half an hour of work. As a result, the cost of the service soars to €140 per hour.

Making any technological changes when there is server hardware of other clients in the same rack is always fraught with complications. The data center is forced to dock and lengthen service intervals due to the presence of other clients’ hardware in the same rack. This is because performing work in a rack that hosts 40 clients is much more dangerous in the event of a failure than if there is only one client there.

How to select a provider for renting a server. Who offers the best terms and service in Europe?

Top ten deals on server rental in Europe. Download the checklist.

Sending, please wait...


How to select a provider for renting a server. Who offers the best terms and service in Europe?

Top ten deals on server rental in Europe. Download the checklist.

Sending, please wait...

To select the best option and make deliberate decision, use the checklist for a successful migration to new European data center. We have analyzed 20 providers, and we know what to look for to keep your business running smoothly and without overpayments.

Article author

Volodymyr Marchenko

network engineer and a consultant in interactions with leading equipment vendors and manufactures

Case study: How a company in Europe can save more than 15% on data center services by migrating its IT infrastructure

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments