colocation data center provider interior showing servers
Your company has decided that internally hosting all your IT infrastructure is no longer a sustainable long-term strategy, so you may be looking for a colocation data center as an alternative. Perhaps your current data center requires expensive capital upgrades or you have limited space or power. Or you need a Disaster Recovery site to backup and restore your data.

No matter what hurdles you have to overcome, data center moves are complex and you need to consider your options carefully.

So, what’s the first step in finding a new home for your business-critical infrastructure? Sure, price matters (doesn’t it always?), but there’s more you need to consider before making your decision.

Why Use a Colocation Data Center?

Colocation is not a new solution, but there are pros and cons. Yes, public clouds are flexible and scalable, but colocation gives you control, security and can extend your hardware and software’s useful lives. Not all applications can be refactored for movement to the cloud.

What is The Right Colocation Facility for You?

The LOCATION in Colocation

Yes, the adage: “location, location, location” applies here too. It’s a primary reason you choose a colocation data center facility. After all, the closer you are to your data center, the less time your IT staff and support technicians must travel to facilitate the move, deploy your IT and manage your infrastructure.

Now, let’s say your environment isn’t as hands-on, then location doesn’t matter as much. In that case, your colocation data center should provide critical services like smart hands and onsite technical support to make managing your IT remotely easier.

Space, Power and Growth

Once you’ve identified a possible colocation provider, then consider space, power and growth.

When looking at space, make sure you have both enough current space to house your equipment as well as contiguous space to shorten network runs between cabinets. Your provider should also be able to power and cool the density of your infrastructure without making you buy unwanted and unused gray space.

Finally, you’ll need enough space to grow within the same building so that you’re not incurring the enormous expense to move again in the near future.

It’s the Network!

The final major qualifier is the network. Ask these important questions:

  • Does your short list of data center providers have the ability to interconnect with the nearest Internet Exchange?
  • Do they own and operate their own network or use oversubscribed lit service?
  • Do they have a choice of carriers built into the “meet me room” or are you locked into a few providers?
  • What capacity and throughput can they offer?
  • Do they have multiple locations with high speed and high capacity networks for Disaster Recovery?

Data Center Operating Requirements

Now that you’ve short-listed your colocation data center providers based on location, power, space and network, it’s time to dig deeper. Colocation contracts typically run from three to five years which means you’ll have to invest in moving, so make sure it’s worth your while long term.

You Need Power

Your data center MUST provide secure, reliable power. It’s that simple. Perform your due diligence and see how your candidate providers have designed, implemented and maintained their power/cooling design and physical security.

Use the Uptime Institute’s Tier Classification System to evaluate each data center’s infrastructure and how design decisions affect availability. Keep in mind that while you may want a Tier IV rating, it will come at a cost.

OPERATIONS Questions to Ask Your Colocation Provider

Here is a list of questions you can ask your data center candidates to gain a deeper understanding of their operations.

  • How is change handled? Is there a change process that includes all electrical and mechanical systems? How are changes vetted and approved?
  • Ask to see major incident reports; no data center operator is perfect. How are they documented, and do they deliver useful insight?
  • Question the data center’s efficiency. Power is a data center’s single largest operating expense and you’re paying for it.

SECURITY Questions to Ask Your Colocation Provider

You should expect at least a basic physical security level. Here are some things to look for:

  • Is there CCTV on the perimeter at access points and in the data center hall? How long are recordings saved? Will there be video surveillance in your space in the data center?
  • How are access rosters and badging managed?
  • Is the staff courteous, professional and diligent? How does protection present itself in off hours when your staff has to come in to address an emergency?
  • Does the provider carry and intend to maintain the level of compliance your company requires?

Visit Your Colocation Facility

It may seem obvious but take the data center tour. When you go beyond their sales pitch and learn first-hand, you’ll discover what it’s like to check in, access the man traps, etc. You’ll see how clean the facility is and how the staff presents themselves.

They can tell you all day long what you want to hear but seeing is believing.

Other Considerations in Choosing a Colocation Data Center Provider

Data centers are evolving beyond just power, space and connectivity. Businesses looking to move infrastructure off their premise need several options so here are a few more questions to consider before making your final decision:

  • Does the data center provider offer additional capabilities like multiple data centers within a region for Disaster Recovery or do you have to contract with another provider and handle the networking yourself?
  • Does the provider offer cloud and managed services so that you can avoid the capital outlay and management of additional servers and storage?
  • Does the data center offer connectivity to carrier exchanges, public cloud providers and SaaS solutions? Even though you may not need these services today, it’s good to know you can tap into them in the future.

Conclusion

When the demands on IT services grow, it puts pressure on budgets and resources keeping your business from expanding. Today’s modern data centers provide more services and options than ever. But, when you partner with the right local data center provider that takes the time to understand your business and its challenges, you get solutions that help your business grow faster.

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