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What Needs to Be on Your Data Center Connectivity Checklist

By: Blair Felter on July 4, 2019

When many people think of data centers, they often first think of data storage. With so much data being generated every minute of every day, data centers certainly play a major role in storing that information for later use by sophisticated, big data analytics. But today’s data centers offer so much more than just storage. The modern data center is a connectivity hub, providing colocation customers with incredible possibilities when it comes to building their networks.

Evaluate the Data Center Interconnect Options

A colocation data center succeeds or fails on the strength of its interconnect options. While there are certainly data security benefits and power/cooling cost savings to be gained by colocating servers in a data center environment, the right connectivity services can truly transform a business. When evaluating a colocation facility, there are a number of questions potential customers should ask about its interconnectivity options.

Is the Facility Carrier Neutral?

A carrier-neutral data center provides the best option for networking data and building customizable network solutions. These data centers embrace the concept of connectivity by offering customers access to a variety of cloud service providers and internet service providers (ISPs). Single-carrier data centers, on the other hand, only use a single vendor’s connectivity technology. In most cases, that vendor also owns the data center, giving it total control over pricing and other services. While a single-carrier facility can easily result in a vendor lock-in situation, carrier-neutral data center interconnect options provide the flexibility organizations need to scale and adapt to changing business needs.

How Many Providers Does the Facility Offer?

Knowing that a facility doesn’t restrict customers to a single carrier is a good start, but robust data center connectivity requires a wide range of vendors, not just two or three. When there are more providers in a data center interconnection environment, customers benefit from pricing competition. Knowing that a colocation customer could easily shift from one cloud platform to another also incentivizes those providers to offer better services. For organizations looking to build networking data solutions for their present and future needs, a strong vendor marketplace in a colocation environment offers tremendous flexibility and opportunity.

Does the Facility Offer Cross-Connections?

Speed and performance is everything when it comes to data center connections. Having access to a vital cloud service may not provide all the advantages a customer expects if the connection is hampered by latency. With cross-connect cabling, colocation providers can establish direct connections between a customer’s colocated servers and a cloud provider’s servers, making it one of the most valuable forms of data center connectivity technology. Cross-connections reduce the amount of networking data traveling over the public internet, which helps to avoid potential bandwidth bottlenecks with data center routers and keep latency at a minimum. Even if the facility doesn’t offer a cross-connect to a particular service provider, they might still be able to arrange for direct connections via dedicated cabling. Services like Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, for example, can help colocation customers extend their cloud environment into a third-party cloud computing platform securely and with minimal latency.

What Cloud Deployments Does the Data Center Offer?

A good colocation facility should provide a variety of cloud deployment options when it comes to building a network. Purely public cloud platforms may be powerful and scalable, but they also come with security and visibility concerns. Many organizations can’t afford to leave their networking data security to chance. They need to retain absolute control over where their data is stored and managed. Hybrid cloud deployments that combine the security and controls of a private network with the scalable computing power of a public cloud offer the best of both worlds. Data center connectivity technology also allows colocation providers to build multi-cloud network architectures that combine the functionality of several cloud computing platforms with a company’s own private cloud servers.

How Good is the Data Center’s Infrastructure?

Data center connectivity options don’t amount to much when the facility suffers excessive system downtime. Poor power and cooling management can cause servers to go down frequently, costing companies enormously in terms of revenue, reputation, and opportunities. Without well-trained and experienced technical personnel on hand, human error is more likely to disrupt services as well. A reputable facility should have a proven track record for maintaining its data center infrastructure, complete with a documented history of uptime reliability.

Choosing a colocation provider with high levels of data center connectivity is one of the most important decisions an organization can make. By taking steps to evaluate facilities carefully, companies can ensure they’re assessing a data center’s interconnect and infrastructure capabilities so that they will be able to provide the connectivity solutions they need to grow their businesses and better serve their customers.

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