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What the ‘L’ Colocation, Collocation or Co-location?


Chris PalermoBy Chris Palermo

At Global Communication Networks, we have been selling colocation for about 10 years. Our first deployment was a large cage environment in Asia, specifically Tokyo, so when sourcing for colocation in Tokyo, I would spell the word as “collocation.” I continued to use the double L for about six months until more than one person on the other side of the pond told me that I should spell collocation with one L. I noticed at the time that most of the people in the U.S. used two L’s and everyone overseas used the single L, or even spelled it as co-location. Because I was selling almost all international colocation at the time, I decided that despite my spell check telling me that it should be spelled as collocation, I always was going to use the single L format.

It has been almost 10 years since that decision, and throughout the years I haven’t gone a single day without seeing it spelled as colocation, co-location, or collocation. Being a proud person to sell colo, I have often told friends and especially my team at GCN that the way we spell it is colocation, and that they should never waver to the other ways that people spell the word.

Last night, I looked up the word in my older edition of Newton’s Telecom Dictionary and both words are in there: “Collocation See Colocation.” This is followed by a very long definition. I guess that even what I in my early years used as my telecom bible cannot help in this conundrum. As a result, I decided to send out 25 emails to friends that are in the colocation business all over the world. Almost all of them immediately responded so I have good information to share on this term.

In 18 hours, I received 22 responses:

  • 18 people reported that they only spell the term as “colocation.”
  • Three people said they spell the term both as “colocation” and “co-location.”
  • One person responded that he spells the term as either “colo” or “collocation.”

Stephen Wilcox, managing partner of IX Reach London wrote, “So, how to spell colocation is the same type of question as to whether ‘Internet’ is capitalized and what the definition of a ‘Tier 1 network’ is. I’m not sure, and it probably doesn’t matter but I can tell you what its not if that helps. So its clearly a derivative of ‘location,’ implying you locate alongside someone else, hence the ‘co-‘ prefix. Historically the correct English would have been co-location, like ‘co-terminus’ or ‘co-worker,’ but common modern usage in the data center age prefers the simplified version of ‘colocation.’ I’m personally not a fan of unnecessarily hyphenating words so our house style is no hyphen i.e., colocation but I would be okay with anyone using ‘co-location’ too, although I believe it’s falling out of fashion in much the same way as capitalizing Internet is (although as a pedant, I prefer the capitalized version). What’s for sure in my opinion though is its never been ‘collocation’ nor ‘coloccation’ or even ‘colocattion’ or any other variety where you care to add random letters for no good reason. HTH.”

Amanda Van Riper, head of marketing for ColoHouse responded, “In my initial research regarding data centers and colocation, I found that ‘collocation’ or ‘co-location’ was most often associated with something or someone living/being in two places at once, which could definitely apply to data center colocation as far as redundancy, multiple data sites, etc. However, I use ‘colocation’ because this spelling (from my findings/opinion) is most often associated specifically with data center colocation.”

Giles Proctor, vice president, data centre construction & operations at Pacnet based in Hong Kong wrote, “Hi Chris, it is good to see that GCN is not afraid to attack the real industry issues! I am a ‘colocation’ purist. I have never had truck with those who use the hyphen, although I will admit that, in my youth, I flirted with the double L.”

Martijn Kooiman, sales manager, Telecity Group Amsterdam wrote, “”Hi Chris, good idea. At TelecityGroup we refer to it as co-location. Co-location being an area in which multiple customers are located within a single shared environment.”

So how about you? How do you spell it?

**Editor’s Note: GCN passed along the final results of its LinkedIn poll on April 9. Forty-seven percent of voters preferred “colocation.” Forty-one percent liked “co-location.” Just 12 percent were fans of the double-l, “collocation.”**

Chris Palermo is president and CEO of Global Communication Networks Inc., an agency based in Pompano Beach, Fla., offering voice and data services, data center, cloud computing and project management.


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