Hi there -- I've read quite a bit on these forums trying to figure out a step by step course of going colo, but I'm coming up short. I'm hoping someone can help.

We're presently renting five dedicated servers from a high-end provider and another at EV1. We're spending about $2500 a month on these servers, plus another $300+ per month on email. We're at the point where we know we will need to grow over the next year, and instead of continuing to rent more and more dedicated servers, we're looking to just go CoLo.

We're planning to start with a half-rack. We've priced the servers, but need help understanding how to go about getting things going once we have the physical servers in hand. Specifically:

1: What else do we need besides servers? Do we need routers and/or switches? Do we need a firewall? Can a firewall handle multiple servers?

2: Can all our servers be setup on a private network? (we'd like to use servers to back up each other in case one goes down)

3: How do we allocate ip addresses? For instance, if a server goes down, can we move that IP address over to another server and bring the site back up with a minimum of downtime?

4: What about remove access? Should we put a DRAC in each server, or are there other solutions where we could purchase one box and access all servers?

5: How do we do basic DNS things such as creating custom nameservers?

6: How do we pick the right CoLo facility? We're looking at one in Raleigh or Charlotte and are considering Peak10 (they currently provide our backbone in Louisville, with no problems over the last 4+ years). What questions do we need to ask? What pitfalls do we need to look out for?

7: What monitoring software should we consider, if any? (our boxes will *all* be Windows boxes, btw)

8: Anyone here that's in the NC area that is interested in helping us purchase all the equipment we need, helping us set it all up, and then be available on call for a couple of months to help with the obvious stupid questions that are sure to arrise? We would want someone absolutely top notch that has plenty of experience doing this kind of thing.

Thanks so much!