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7 Critical Factors for Choosing a Reliable Data Center Provider

Today, more and more forward-thinking companies across all industries are seeking reliable data center services. As organizations look to reduce costs, focus IT resources, and extend their reach to meet the demands of global markets, they have a pressing need to store their servers in a secure, safe, and well-connected environment.

A reliable data center provides power and cooling to ensure continuous uptime of servers, connectivity to ensure your applications and data are available 24/7, and multilayered security to ensure the safety of mission-critical data.

If you’re looking for data center services, you want to pick a reliable, experienced provider that specializes in data centers. You don’t want to incur a security breach or, even worse, a loss of service or mission-critical data because your provider considers a data center to be “just another high-tech warehouse.”

Consider the following seven critical success factors when searching for a data center provider.

Company Experience

Look for a provider that has been in business for at least 10 years to confirm the company has staying power. A significant track record also indicates they have been in business long enough to understand how to run a reliable data center and deliver excellent service.

The provider you select should have more than one data center.

The provider you select should have more than one data center. There’s no set number for this, but the more data centers they have, the more serious they are about the business of data centers. Also, the provider you select should be building or acquiring new data centers, not just sitting on the ones they have. This shows they are investing in the business and incorporating new technology into their facilities.

Also check the provider’s website for biographies of the executive team. How long have they been with the company? How much experience do they have in the data center industry? If the executives have a strong background in data centers, they likely have a better understanding of how successful data centers work, and of the needs and requirements of data center clients.

Financial Stability

It can be risky to partner with a provider that may struggle to meet their financial commitments. You don’t want to select a provider that may go bankrupt in a few years and leave you scrambling to pull your servers out of their facility before it shuts down.

The key element is transparency.

If the provider is a public company, it should be easy to view the latest financials, which are available in the annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Private companies are often less willing to share financial data, and it may require a bit more effort from you to get that information.

The key element is transparency. If the provider is not willing to share financial information or have it audited by an independent auditor, it could be the company is less financially secure than they’re willing to admit.

Physical Infrastructure

Look very carefully at the physical infrastructure of the data center where you wish to store your servers. Ask the data center company to provide a guided tour of the facility for everyone in your company involved in the decision-making process.

Location

No data center can be made completely 100 percent risk-free of all types of natural or man-made disasters. Wherever the facility is located, it is usually vulnerable to some type of disaster, whether it’s an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, fire, etc. However, reliable data centers are built to be disaster proof – that is, to withstand any disaster that comes their way.

  • Physical Structure
    A data center should be a reinforced steel-and-concrete structure, with specific features designed to help it withstand the types of disasters native to the area.
  • Fully Redundant Power and Cooling
    A reliable data center has multiple levels of redundant power. Its power sources should be equipped with automatic failover, so that if one power source goes down, the facility will automatically switch over to other power sources.
  • Available Space and Future Scalability
    You should know how much floor space, power and cooling your IT footprint will require, and whether or not the data center facility has that amount of space, power and cooling available. A good data center will have room and power for future growth. You should assess your needs for future IT scalability, and ensure the data center can accommodate these needs.

 

  • Connectivity
    A reliable data center will offer robust, highly resilient and flexible links to multiple network carriers, and available bandwidth to support your connectivity needs. You may also want to look for a data center provider that offers low-cost city-to-city transit and metro connectivity.

 

  • LEED Certifications
    If reducing your carbon footprint is important to your company, you should look for a data center facility with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Physical Security

A reliable data center will have multiple layers of security to protect the IT infrastructures and data it houses. The interior of the data center should include a series of waiting rooms and security operated locked doors designed to control and limit visitor access to various parts of the building. All areas of the data center should be monitored by electronic security, such as 24-hour video surveillance and interior and exterior alarms.

All areas of the data center should be monitored by electronic security …

The data center should have an established set of security procedures that govern who has access to the facility, how visitor access privileges and required IDs are issued and recorded, and procedures to follow in the event of a security breach. The data center should be manned by a 24/7 security staff. Ask the data center company for details about the security and on-site staff at the data center.

Customer Service and Support

A reliable data center will provide its clients with high-end customer service and support. The data center should have a well-trained and attentive 24-hour on-site staff, in addition to the security staff.

The data center should have an on-site control center that controls and monitors all systems at the facility, including IT system operations, power levels, temperature, humidity and video surveillance. Clients of the data center should have access to real-time reporting, so they can monitor the status of their IT systems at all times.

The staff should be trained in established procedures for what to do in case of an “event” (i.e., a power outage or an incoming hurricane), and the data center should have a system for notifying clients of that facility when an event has occurred or will occur.

Service-Level Agreements

You should look for a provider that offers a service-level agreement (SLA) with a written guarantee of 100 percent continuous uptime of power and cooling, plus a guarantee of 99.999 percent reliability of their underlying data center infrastructure.

The SLA should also spell out what, if any, kind of compensation for business loss you will receive if the provider fails to meet their uptime goals. Providers usually offer a service-level credit (i.e., one month of free rent and power) as compensation if your IT infrastructure goes down due to a system failure.

Pricing Plans Offered

Ask the data center what the basic rates are for hosting, and how their pricing plans are structured.

Your company’s success depends on the high availability of your IT footprint and the security of your mission-critical data. Therefore, you have the right to thoroughly screen a data center provider before you sign with them, and to ask for as much transparency as possible from the provider.

The more information you can get from a data center provider about these elements, the easier it will be for you to make an informed decision and choose a reliable partner for the long term.


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Gary is currently the president and CEO of CyrusOne (NASDAQ: CONE), which is a high growth data center company that focuses on serving the needs of the Fortune 1000, including 9 of the Fortune 20. He (...)

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