How to Evaluate Reliability in a Colocation Provider’s Data Center

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As data dependence intensifies, businesses of all sizes need to mitigate the risk from both human-caused and natural disasters.  IT outages hurt every company’s operation and finances, regardless of the industry.

To ensure business continuity, data center best practices should be deployed to deliver 100% availability to data center customers.

Today, businesses expect and depend on immediate communications. Business expectations revolve around 24/7 electronic communications and regular availability of data.

Ongoing innovations in technology and processes improve data reliability.  But, keeping pace with constant technological change is challenging for every organization.  Businesses know they must have seamless communication and always available data.

Why Colocation Makes Sense

Given the expectation of an always-on professional environment, which data center strategy offers the best solution?

In many scenarios, the colocation concept provides the highest levels of reliability at the most affordable cost.  Regular access to data, even during unexpected outages and natural disasters, could mean the difference between success and failure for many companies.

With fully redundant systems and proven processes, experienced colocation providers can often deal with power outages faster and more cost effectively than most businesses.  But, building and managing a data center with these fully redundant power architectures requires specialized expertise and huge capital expenditures.  Since most organizations aren’t in a position to invest in and maintain a facility of this nature, colocating in a proven provider’s data center makes good business sense.

What Should Drive Data Center Selection

To ensure the right fit between a company and colocation provider, decision makers need to carefully analyze their data center requirements. Businesses need to strike the right balance between an available environment and cost efficiencies.  They want to fully protect their infrastructure, but at the same time, not pay for more than they need.

Some important questions to ask include:

  • How long can the company afford to endure an outage – seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks?  Each business will have different thresholds. Therefore, objectively answering this question will help a company avoid being under-protected or spending more money than necessary.
  • At what point will a data loss become a substantial problem?  How much data loss, if any, can a company experience without crippling ramifications?  The answer to this question determines to what extent data needs to be protected and available in the event of a disaster.

Evaluation Parameters for Data Center Selection

To ensure reliability, business decision makers must carefully evaluate a data center provider’s capabilities.  Important questions to ask regarding availability include:

  • Is the facility located strategically for the business?  A good location will be easily accessible geographically and provide as much immunity as possible to natural disasters.
  • How protected is the actual facility?  Are advanced security monitoring systems in place?  Does the facility incorporate next-generation fire suppression systems?
  • Are the provider’s services backed by a 100% uptime SLA regardless of power demands?
  • Does the provider use advanced parallel power support architectures?  The data center should be designed with:
    • Separate parallel transformers with separate parallel underground utility feeds
    • Dual power feeds from multiple power distribution units (PDUs) within each enclosure
    • Multiple generators, fuel tanks, and batteries

To ensure a data center is up to the challenge of providing an always-on environment, getting answers to the above questions are a critical part of understanding if a data center can meet your business expectations.  Otherwise, the solution may not be the best fit.

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