Digital technologies are vital to nearly every organization in the world, and where they choose to store their data is crucial to day-to-day operations.
When a company decides to work with a data center partner, it will be one of the most important decisions they make as a business. It will help to increase resiliency, boost security and overall efficiency, while making the company more adaptable for the future. There are lots of ways for a company to decide to work with a data center; whether you’re considering colocation or cloud, your IT will be hosted in a data center
Choosing the wrong partner can impact the future performance of a business’ IT, but by finding a data center that supports your specific business needs, you avoid any potential disruption.
A report from 2020 estimated there were more than 7,000 data center providers in the world and it’s likely this number has now increased. With many providers focusing on market strategies such as hyperscale, wholescale, colocation or managed services, it has become more difficult for any company searching for its first data center partner to compare apples with apples. Doing your due diligence and research is key.
Essential points to consider
Location: In an emergency scenario involving their systems, a company’s engineers will need to get to a data center as quickly as possible. An inconvenient location could pose serious issues in the long term, especially as engineers will be visiting the site for regular maintenance.
Any potential data center would ideally need to have good transport connections. You need to be able to have staff quickly travel to any potential data center, either because it’s conveniently located close to your business, it has good transport connections, or ideally both.
Latency: With modern networks this is less of a factor than it used to be, but if you’re transferring a huge amount of data, you may want to consider a data center closer to your office to reduce latency. There are also GDPR and other data compliance implications of hosting IT in another country, so you’ll want to avoid this.
Security: Picking a data center which can monitor and protect your system is crucial. When it comes to security, this is split into physical security which consists of 24/7/365 on-site security to prevent someone from physically breaching your IT, locked doors, CCTV systems and vigilant staff
A data center should also be able to repel any potential cyber-attacks, with services such as comprehensive firewalls, managed backups and vulnerability scanning, ensuring it’s able to provide managed backups and restoration as a last line of defense against a successful cyber attack, corrupted data and human error.
It’s never been more expensive to suffer a security breach of your systems; if an attacker gains physical access to your servers, there’s almost nothing that can be done. As well as reviewing the physical on-site security and range of cyber security services of a potential data center, ask about their record with security and if they’ve ever had a breach.
Reliability: Above everything else, your company wants to keep its system up and running. Having a face-to-face tour of a data center will allow you to visually assess whether it’s the right one for you. Being able to ask specific questions about the running of the site, from power and connectivity, to how much downtime they’ve had in recent years and whether they offer SLAs with compensation, will all help you come to a definitive answer.
A data center also boosts reliability, with backup generators, geographically diverse network cables and redundant equipment. You should be aiming for a record of 99.999% uptime for a potential partner.
Efficiency: Lower power consumption in a data center is important for two reasons: it keeps costs down for them, but just as importantly, it’s more environmentally friendly. Another key factor is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). The average score is 2, but it’s possible for a data center to have a score of less than 1.3, so this is what you should be expecting your preferred partner to have.
Expertise: As your business continues to grow, selecting a data center partner that can provide expert advice and guidance when upgrading your systems will be crucial. And before they begin the upgrading process, you’ll want to check track records to ensure there is minimum disruption to operations for your customers.
It’s also important to consider the depth of services a data center operator can provide. Do they have offerings for colocation, different types of cloud or capable of hosting HPC? These questions will need to be at the front of your mind, especially when it gets to the stage of futureproofing your current systems. In recent years, data centers offer a much wider variety of IT infrastructure solutions, providing a comprehensive range of services to support all aspects of your business growth.
By Jack Bedell-Pearce, CEO & Co Founder, 4D Data Centres.