Choosing a Data Center Solution: Features & Benefits of Colocation
January 13, 2009
SmarterTools recently completed its transition to a new data center in the Phoenix area. The addition of the Tier 3 data center was integral for the upcoming launch of our hosted services (such as our Hosted SmarterTrack customer service software) and will help us support increased demand for our software.
It was a logical step for our company, but not one that was taken lightly. We realize that many of our customers use our software and services for mission-critical tasks, so the security of their information and the availability of our software and services are paramount.
8 Tips for Choosing a Data Center Solution
Choosing the best data center to house our servers and associated infrastructure wasn’t a snap decision. We researched several data center solutions, finally settling on ours after numerous on-site visits and discussions with the data center staff regarding the features and benefits of their colocation services. Based on our experience, we can offer the following tips for choosing a reliable data center:
Make sure a potential data center site is fully redundant
At a minimum, you should look for primary backup solutions for all critical components—power, fire suppression, HVAC, etc.—as well as secondary backup solutions in case a primary backup fails. For example, our data center power feed is fed by conditioned UPS electricity, with redundant feeds from two independent substations and multiple on-premise backup generators. In addition, there are 27,000 gallons of reserve diesel fuel on site. Our data center cooling systems also feature welded, bidirectional piping for redundancy and maintenance, and an additional 32,000 gallon backup water storage facility is located on site.
Make sure a potential data center has abundant and affordable telecommunications infrastructure
Our data center provides network neutral access to major telecommunications carriers and Internet backbones, meaning that we benefit from direct access to local, national, international, wireline, wireless, private, public, research, dark fiber, and other networks. As a result, our data center ensures 99.999% uptime and our customers benefit from reliable access to their data.
Benefit from guaranteed reliability and uptime with service-level agreements (SLAs)
SLAs are an important tool for maintaining quality of service because they can guarantee power service, temperature stability, and network uptime. Since most data centers offer SLAs as part of their contracts, it’s worthwhile to ask for and evaluate the terms of the SLA. According to Nemertes Research, SLAs are critical to data center services, and IT executives cite SLAs as the third-most important criterion in selecting a service provider for data center outsourcing. Our SLA guarantees five nines reliability.
Evaluate the safety and security features of a potential data center
Building security is extremely important, so you’ll want to look for a data center that offers quality security systems and/or guards on duty 24/7. Our data center utilizes advanced security technologies such as digital video, electronic access control, fingerprint recognition, and retinal scans.
Minimize the risk of natural and man-made threats by researching the locations under consideration for your data center
Our new data center operates in an area that is widely acknowledged to be free of natural disasters or “mega city” political risks, greatly reducing the risk of disruption due to natural or man-made disasters. For those looking for a data center solution in the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency lists natural disasters by state and by year dating back to 1953.
Make sure a potential data center has plans in place for growth
Because it’s unlikely that your business will stay the same size it is today, asking about the scalability of a potential data center is a good idea. You don’t want to find out six months from now that the data center mounted your server in its last rack space. Our data center is dedicated to meeting our comprehensive, long-term business needs and provides flexible and expandable data center space as needed.
Pay attention to data center business risks
Remember that data centers are real estate. Based upon square footage, a data center may be some of the most expensive real estate in the world, but all of the same rules apply. Have options in place to extend your lease at a fixed, predictable cost. You do not want to have to choose between substantial rent increases and expensive migrations at the end of the year. Also, make sure that you have an escape clause with defined costs in case the data center fails to meet your needs in the future due to unforeseen circumstances. Finally, watch the insurance requirements: Make sure that you know what the liabilities of the data center are and what falls squarely on you, and update your insurance policies accordingly.
Talk to the data center staff
If you’re struggling to choose between two data centers, talking to the staff may help you select the winner. Ultimately, your satisfaction depends not only on the building and its technology but also on the quality, culture, and experience of the people operating the facility.
The Choice is Clear
The best data center facilities provide flexibility in terms of scalability, connectivity and monitoring options; fail-safe security; a redundant, quality infrastructure with 99.999% reliability; and knowledgeable technical, monitoring, and support staff dedicated to meeting customer requirements from installation to ongoing operations. Whether you’re looking for a data center solution for colocation or disaster recovery, the choice will be easy if a potential data center successfully meets these requirements.
This post was written by Tiffany D., a marketing and technical communications specialist for SmarterTools. If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to the SmarterTools Blog so you don’t miss an update.