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Data Center Operations Best Practices You Need to Know

By: Ross Warrington on January 2, 2019

Today’s data centers offer a wide range of services for organizations looking to migrate their IT infrastructure or build new network solutions to take their business to the next level. Unfortunately, not every data center can provide the same level of support and expertise. When evaluating a facility, it’s important to keep in mind a number of best practices that set today’s leading data centers apart from the competition.

Data Center Operations Best Practices You Need to Know

1: Connectivity

A robust data center environment offers customers extensive connectivity options, enabling easy on-ramps to cloud services and other network resources. Carrier neutral facilities offer the added benefit of not being locked in with a single internet service provider (ISP). By empowering customers to select the ISP best suited to their needs, data centers can help keep costs low and provide more reliable services. A facility with multiple connectivity options effectively functions as an ISP marketplace, making it possible for customers to easily switch services based on considerations of price, bandwidth, and reliability.

Data centers should be built with these connectivity options in mind. With this infrastructure in place, managed service providers (MSPs) and other partners can bundle services more effectively to offer their customers the right solutions for their businesses. Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments require complicated network architecture, but data centers are uniquely positioned to implement these versatile deployments. Relationships between customers, vendors, and service providers can be established with a single cross-connect, which provides more secure connections and the agility to provision resources and services quickly without tying customers down with long-term contracts and commitments.

2: Sustainability

Data centers have long faced challenges with power demands. While innovations in server technology have allowed facilities to provide more efficient performance, the market push toward sustainable energy solutions is fundamentally altering the way data centers meet their power needs. In the last decade alone, renewable energy has doubled its share of the country’s energy mix (from 9 percent in 2008 to 18 percent in 2018). With customers pushing organizations to “go green,” data centers that ignore the growing trend may well find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the future.

From on-site green power solutions that could potentially allow facilities to unplug from the local power grid completely to off-site solutions like renewable energy certificates (RECs) and power purchase agreements (PPAs), there are a number of ways for data centers to provide assurances that they’re incorporating sustainable energy into their power infrastructure. By adopting these solutions, facilities can position themselves as proactive players in the renewable energy market. Since market forces are already making sustainable power solutions a key differentiator, investing in green energy is increasingly becoming a business necessity for data centers looking to stand out from the crowd.

3: Availability

When it comes to storing their data and assets with a third party, organizations want to have some kind of assurances that they’ll be able to access it whenever they need it. This justifiable demand for data availability is the driving force behind the service level agreements (SLAs) that stipulate a facility’s uptime reliability. Expressed as a percentage of time that servers are online, SLA uptime is critical for any company that relies on its network to deliver business results. And precision is important. The difference between 99.99% uptime reliability and 99.9999% uptime reliability is significant and easily measured in terms of lost revenue.

Data centers generally do much more to minimize downtime than cloud providers, making them an attractive partner for companies and MSPs looking to migrate network infrastructure from an on-premises solution. Whether as a colocation provider or a completely virtualized “data center as a service” (DCaaS), data centers must emphasize the importance of data availability by implementing security, backup, and readiness measures necessary to guarantee the highest levels of SLA uptime possible to keep their customers’ servers up and running.

4: Versatility

Today’s data centers can’t afford to force customers to conform to their existing infrastructure. Versatility and adaptability are key differentiators for companies looking to migrate their IT and network needs to a third-party facility. For colocation providers, that means accommodating whatever power and space needs an organization may have. Data center deployments need to be able to incorporate multiple types of equipment and have the ability to integrate diverse systems quickly and reliably. Even for software defined data centers (SDDCs) that provide virtualized solutions, systems and procedures must be in place to facilitate lift and shift strategies that migrate mission-critical applications into a new environment.

Remote hands services capable of providing implementation assistance are no longer a luxury for data centers. Even after migration, customers want to retain the visibility over their assets that allows them to fine-tune deployments based on power and computing needs. Data centers must be positioned to not only facilitate this transparency, but also respond rapidly when customers need to make a change.

5: Security

With cyberattacks on the rise, data centers cannot afford to take data security considerations lightly. The massive costs of a data breach are simply too severe for companies to ignore, so when they entrust their IT assets with a data center, they want to know that the facility is deploying the very latest in security strategies. From blended connectivity solutions that guard against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to proactive monitoring through predictive analytics and remote hands oversight, data centers need to position themselves at the forefront of cybersecurity trends.

Data centers also offer the added assurance of physical security. With multiple layers of security, comprehensive surveillance, and updated access lists standing between their data and unauthorized users, companies can turn to third-party facilities to guard against the potential of external and internal threats.

Not every data center is created equally. The most successful facilities follow a number of best practices that allow them to deliver unmatched services coupled with high reliability and protection. These data centers stand at the forefront of the industry and make ideal partners for MSPs and other companies looking for the very best solutions for IT infrastructure and network architecture.

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