More and more, businesses are turning to data center providers to help them manage their networking and storage needs. Organizations simply don’t have the means – time, money, expertise – to handle all that it takes to optimally manage their computing demands.
Businesses and their IT teams have consistently looked for ways to minimize their network and data center operating costs. Organizations mainly choose to supplement private data centers with cloud or colocation providers to minimize their infrastructure costs. They also migrate business-critical applications from public clouds to colocation data centers to minimize their management costs.
Yet, over the last few years, the current data surge and imminent explosion have put even greater emphasis on improving computing power and capacity to meet user expectations. Rather than investing in the many components required to update their own data centers, businesses have commonly chosen to partner with a data center provider to better meet their current and developing needs.
Not all data center providers are the same, of course. When the time comes to choose your partner, you’ll want to ask the right questions to ensure you’ll have the solution your business needs today and tomorrow.
In order to be certain about the requirements you need your data center provider to meet, you must first consult all of your stakeholders. Your network’s speed, accessibility, adaptability and security monitoring requirements will all depend on a number of different factors and groups of people. Here are some of the most important requirements to think through:
The location of your data center(s) has a big impact on your network performance. Though the speed of data is measured in milliseconds, data still must physically travel from one point to another. At top speed, a packet of data can travel from coast to coast in as little as 80 milliseconds. But when data is processed closer to a user – let’s say, the same city – the packet can arrive in 5 milliseconds.
Your operations depend on your network uptime, which is why many businesses require. 99.999% availability as a baseline. The following chart shows how your uptime requirements impact your operations over the course of a year:
To achieve maximum uptime without burning your finances, you and your provider will need to customize your network configurations. Of course, extensive redundancies and precautions are instrumental to maintaining such high levels of availability.
Your current capacity requirements are undeniably important, but choosing a data center provider is a decision that should benefit your business for years. You need to take your anticipated growth into consideration and learn how your capacity needs might change.
Not all data center and colocation providers use the same business model or take the same approach to client support. Many providers have already constructed 50,000+ square-foot facilities that allow them to readily offer your business the power, cooling and connectivity it needs.
Other providers create powered shells – facilities with completed exterior construction, power and connectivity, but unfinished interiors meant to be completed by each client. By leasing these spaces, providers can avoid many difficulties and costs that come with designing and building a data center.
Some providers choose to build infrastructure from the ground up for each client and their requirements. Though it takes time to start benefiting from such a build, it will give you access to the newest designs and latest technology.
Beyond the construction and strategic design of a data center, you need to know who will be responsible for monitoring and troubleshooting issues and how security updates will be implemented. You may have a data center manager you can speak to when issues arise, or your provider may use a completed automated system? You may also prefer to manage some aspects of your network internally. These are all questions you’ll need to address or ask any potential partner.
There are many certifications that govern data centers and indicate their ability to meet specific industry standards. We’ve outlined five key certifications you should ask any data center provider about.
SSAE 18 governs internal controls over financial reporting. The Type II report outlines design and testing controls, as well the reporting on the operational effectiveness of these controls over a period of time.
SOC 2 Type II governs internal controls over operational oversight, including physical and environmental security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. A data center’s Type II report will detail test procedures and results conducted by a third party auditor.
ISO 27001 is an international information security standard that provides a framework for how companies should protect their data. It’s also the only auditable international standard that defines the requirements to effectively manage and measure an information security management system (ISMS).
HIPAA/HITECH are acts that define standards for the privacy and security of electronically-protected healthcare information – at rest and in transit. As it relates to data centers, these standards ensure that a provider implements and adheres to all physical, network, and process security measures related to protected healthcare information.
PCI DSS 3.2 is a worldwide security standard assembled by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard outlines controls to mitigate the risk of credit card data exposure. It was created to help businesses that process credit card payments to prevent credit card fraud.
Clearly, there is much more to consider than these three questions. Though these are a great start, there are many more details to look into. In fact, we’ve detailed 15 specific factors to consider when whittling down your potential data center providers.
Download your copy of our informative whitepaper, in which you’ll learn how to choose a data center that can address your needs and add value to your business.
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