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The Checklist for How to Plan Your Data Center Deployment

By: Tom Banta on May 16, 2019

Organizations typically make the decision to relocate their servers and other computing assets into a colocation data center to save on infrastructure and staffing costs as well as gain access to the rich connectivity options available to these facilities. Whether they were utilizing an on-premises or cloud-based solution previously, third-party data centers offer resources that would have been far beyond the reach of many small to medium-sized companies in decades past. When the time does come to move into a colocation facility, companies often have a good idea of their current needs and select a facility accordingly.

But needs have a way of changing quickly, especially when a company grows quickly. If a company doesn’t account for how it might grow in the future, it could easily find itself stuck with an infrastructure solution that locks them into a limited configuration that will be expensive and time consuming to change. By considering how their colocation needs will change over time and working with data centers and managed service providers (MSPs), customers can embark on a data migration process that makes sense for their present and chart a course for their growth in the future.

Data Center Deployment Checklist

Build Cloud Architecture

For many organizations, moving assets into a data center is only the first step in a larger plan to facilitate greater network agility. Colocation services can offer more than just rack space and connectivity options. Hybrid and multi-cloud architecture allow companies to leverage the boundless potential of cloud computing while still retaining the security and control of a private network in their own servers. A hybrid deployment integrates a single cloud platform with colocated servers while a multi-cloud solution incorporates multiple cloud services, either on a single vendor or best-of-breed basis. Data centers and their MSP partners can help customers build customized hybrid and multi-cloud environments that suit the unique needs of their business. When moving into a data center, it’s vital for these customers to think about what they need from their networks and applications both today and in the future so that their deployment can support that strategy.

Select Your Cross Connections

Carrier-neutral data centers can provide connections to a variety of service providers. Whether they need to make use of a public cloud platform or high-performance ISPs, customers have a lot of options to choose from. But making a simple connection may not be sufficient for a company’s business needs. They may need the superior speed, security, and performance of a direct connection to their key services. For these customers, colocation services offer cross connect cabling, which runs a single cable from the customer’s server rack to whatever cabinet is hosting the service provider’s servers. These point-to-point connections bypass the public internet to deliver reduced latency and improved reliability in addition to limiting exposure while data is in-transit. Organizations entering a colocation environment should determine whether or not to invest in cross connections and determine how they might impact their server deployment.

Plan Your Capacity

Infrastructure needs can change quickly. A company may only need a single rack today, but if it continues to grow at a steady pace, it could require two or three within a year. One of the biggest advantages of partnering with a colocation data center is the ability to scale capacity quickly and inexpensively. As with most types of growth, however, it helps to have a plan. Working with a colocation services provider to develop a roadmap for capacity expansion and future infrastructure goals based on existing business plans and application needs is essential to ensuring smooth growth. For instance, a company may not need a hybrid cloud environment today, but may need it in the future to incorporate an edge computing framework when it moves into the IoT device market. Positioning an initial server deployment to easily take advantage of different options in the future can save both money and time when the day for change arrives.

Determine Your Power Requirements

The power requirements of computing equipment is one of the most important considerations for colocation customers. While different colocation services offer different ways to purchase power, evaluating just how much power a server deployment will need on a regular basis is a huge consideration during the data center migration process. Higher density servers consume more power and generate more heat, which, in turn, require more cooling resources. More powerful equipment also affect the number of power distribution units (PDUs) needed because the servers will be pulling more wattage and need bigger circuits to accommodate them. All of these energy costs will be factored into colocation pricing, and an inefficient deployment can result in customers paying far more than they should.

Assess Rack Needs

As servers have become more powerful over the years, data centers have adopted high density rack designs to accommodate these power demands. Where the average server rack once used only about 2-3kW of electricity, newer cabinets have pushed that number closer to 10kW. It’s not uncommon for high-density racks to power workloads in the range of 30-40kW, especially in a hyperscale facility. In practice, this means that colocation customers need to make sure they’re deploying their equipment into the most optimal situation in terms of server power requirements. If they’re colocating multiple high-density servers that draw a lot of power, they’ll want to make sure those assets are concentrated in racks that can handle their energy and cooling demands rather than being spread across multiple, lower power density cabinets. Customers need to work closely with their colocation provider to determine how they can deploy computing assets in the data center environment to maximize performance.

Migrating assets into a colocation data center can be an exciting moment for an organization, but it’s important to take a thorough approach to server deployment needs during the transition. Companies don’t want to end up paying for services they don’t need or put themselves in a position where their infrastructure isn’t able to perform up to its full potential. By working closely with a colocation services partner’s migration and deployment team, customers can build the network infrastructure they need to drive growth and business success for years to come while also reducing the costs and hassle that comes with managing infrastructure in a private data solution.

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