Even with the widespread adoption of the cloud, enterprises are still turning to data center operators to house enterprise applications unfit for virtualized environments. In fact, data center systems spending is expected to grow 3.7 percent in 2013 and while outsourcing the construction and management of a data center to a third party isn’t a new trend, a lot of confusion remains on what to look for in a data center facility.
It would be easy to reduce the data center argument to just a battle of size – and many data center operators foster the mentality that “bigger is better.” However, selecting a facility to house your data should not be taken lightly and the search should consist of more than one check-box. The data center provider’s implementation of environmental controls, connectivity and security should be at the top of your due diligence checklist. Ultimately, these core elements help provide uptime for the customer.
When examining a data center’s environmental controls there are a few key areas to consider. These include maintaining uninterrupted power and a robust enough cooling system to avoid equipment overheating. The equipment within a data center consumes a large amount of power, therefore special systems should be in place to maintain power supply without interruptions. On-site generators are a great backup solution to power the building, even when utility companies have spikes in power or when natural disasters strike. During your search, be sure to ask questions about how power is supplied and what redundancy systems consist of.
In addition to powering the facility, temperature controls to cool the building are equally important. Verizon Terremark cools most of its data centers with chilled water, as it is energy efficient and eliminates the heat created by traditional air conditioning units. Designing and building data centers with environmental systems in mind allows for higher SLAs in availability. A data center with appropriate power and cooling procedures in place should be able to offer high availability SLAs for those systems.
Another key element to keep in mind is connectivity. The more carriers present in a data center, the more choices a customer has in making an interconnection decision. This means that customers can change carriers as needed, which allows for additional redundancy in their Internet presence. That’s not all: more carrier choices allow for competitive pricing and accountability from the carriers to the data center’s customers.
Regardless of how secure the network is, if someone can walk into the facility and flip a switch or unplug a wire without the proper permission, it’s a problem. Physical security measures should include security personnel staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to monitor all security cameras, guard the building entrances and exits, and control key card access to elevators, floors, and roof areas.
Selecting a data center is a serious matter, look beyond the marketing collateral and perhaps even consider a visit to your data’s possible new home. Doing so will ensure you are comfortable with the facility operator and their procedures to power and cool, connect and protect your business applications and systems.