Choosing the right data center provider to co-locate your IT infrastructure should be done with care and a lot of thought. One thing you don’t want to do is make the wrong choice up front. The cost of making a mistake can be huge. Most contracts are from 36 to 60 months in length. If you’re unhappy with your decision, you could be tied to that location for a while. So chose well.
Before your search begins there are a few things you can do help with the process. First, document your business reason as well as your IT requirements. What are the reasons you are going down this path: increased security? added flexibility? anticipated growth? Are there financial advantages to expensing your data center costs vs. the capital expense associated with owning your own data center resources? Your finance department should have great input here. Owning a data center (large or small) is not what you’re in business to do. If you’re attempting to shed that business requirement and concentrate on what value you can bring to your organization, make sure that’s documented as well.
With your high-level business and IT requirements documented, the next step is to drive it to the next level of detail. What hardware do you want to co-locate? Start with the high level list and then detail the requirements of each. Do you have industry or regulatory requirements that need to be met? It’s best to document all of this on the front side in detail. It will facilitate communications and help you land in the best location for your needs. Another major consideration is your backup/recovery/continuity needs. Often this is a good time to review those business needs and incorporate them into your plans. If that’s the case, document those requirements as well.
With the preliminaries done, the next question is, what should you look for in a colocation facility? There are several things you should consider and most of them are important, some critically.
Location – What are your needs? Close by, so you can physically get there in an acceptable amount of time, or maybe physically located far enough away so you are comfortable that a large scale event won’t touch multiple locations.
Dark or Lights On – Some data centers have no manpower presence on site. Physical security is provided via remote monitoring. Others are what we call Lights On, meaning there’s staff on site. There are advantages to both but it’s best to understand your needs and how they fit.
Physical security – What level of physical access does the data center provide? You need to be comfortable that your requirements are met by the security provided by the data center.
Network and power redundancy – While this should be a given in today’s environment, I’ve seen cases where the data center plans still had single points of failure in their network and power schemas.
Power capacity – Data centers are growing and as such their power requirement are growing. Do they have availability to additional resources as they grow and you grow with them?
Business continuity and recovery plans – Do they have the capability to support your needs? That might include staff requirements or additional physical resources.
Industry compliance – Can they meet your industry compliance requirements and do they comply with their industry certifications. Are they SSAE 16 compliant?
Agreements – Last but certainly not least, what do their contract agreements look like? Is there some flexibility in their Master Service Agreement? Can you agree with the service levels spelled out in the Service Level Agreement?
Obviously, this blog is not a complete deep dive into the things that should be considered when choosing a data center to co-locate your hardware. We offer flexible data center services to meet a wide variety of requirements over a large geographic location. If you’d like to discuss your needs, I’d love to have a conversation with you.
Michael Miller, President, Arbor Solutions, Inc.