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Tech Talk: Cliff Heidel: Pros of Colocation & IT Strategy

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on February 19, 2020

In the latest installment of the vXchnge Tech Talk series, we sit down with vXchnge Solution Architect Cliff Heidel to discuss some of the key benefits of colocation and IT strategy.

What is your role at vXchnge and your industry background?

My name is Cliff Heidel, I’m a solution architect here at vXchnge. I’ve been in the industry for about 24 years and I’ve done everything from telecom to hyperconverged infrastructure down through ISP services, managed cloud services, and even did a quick stint at a cybersecurity company.

What is your recipe for IT success?

I have conversations daily with clients who tell me how well their company is doing, how they’re experiencing great growth potential, how their product is making a difference in the marketplace, and how they’re beating their competition. What I always ask them is “What does that recipe for success look like?” They’ll say something like “It’s my IT department” or “It’s our great applications” or “It’s our test/dev environment” or “It’s our ability to go to market first.”

And a lot of times, that consists of having stable platforms and having the ability to push your product first and foremost to the top of the heap and beat your competition, not only in timeframes, but also in stability and resource capabilities.

When is a good time to consider colocation in a data center?

Data centers have redundant, resilient systems. If you come to a tour of a data center, you’re going to see multiple generators outside and multiple commercial power feeds. You’re going to see the UPS (uninterrupted power supply) systems and the switch gear, which is commercial/enterprise grade. On top of that, we’re going to have redundant cooling capabilities and the ability to connect you from the data center to multiple carriers that are out there. So if you want to favor a specific carrier, you can have that choice through the data center rather than having to worry about a carrier trying to pull cable or fiber to your infrastructure where it currently resides. This gives you risk protection and brand protection.

Most companies don’t recover when they have a major disaster. Look at Hurricane Sandy, the California wildfires, or even Hurricane Harvey recently in Houston: forty to sixty percent of those businesses did not recover because their data could not be recaptured. Their brand was impacted to the point where people stopped to them and selected new vendors. This alone is something that having a deep DR (disaster recovery) backup presence in a facility throughout different regions can protect clients against. Those are the main benefits of colocation.

What is the pace of your IT strategy?

IT resources are finite. Space, power, cooling, network resources, bandwidth. How many carriers can you bring into that building and that physical infrastructure? What is the cost? When we start to have that discussion, I tell customers “Look, at what point are you going to hit that wall? When are you going to hit that point where you can’t install another server or cool that equipment properly?” We’ve all seen that wastepaper basket sitting outside the IT door with a sign that says “Do Not Close!” when the AC goes down. We don’t want that to happen to clients. We want to have an open and frank conversation.

When is a good time to discuss a DR strategy?

A lot of times, clients will talk about it on a quarterly basis or an annual basis. We discuss things like full replication solutions. We’ll also discuss mission critical solutions. A lot of times, people say “I can’t replicate the whole cruise ship I’ve got sailing right now” from an IT budget perspective. But that’s where we sit down and ask what is mission critical. What has to stay up and operational no matter what to keep your business operating? What are the things that this company cannot live without? Those are the things we will sit down and say “Look, we need to protect those.”

How do we protect them? Let’s move them off site so that in the event a primary area that those facilities were housed in has some type of an event or catastrophe, you have a place where you can go to spool things up, work remotely, and be able to keep your company up and running and your presence in the market on a solid footing. That alone is sometimes a hard topic to discuss on the financial side, but can your business survive without it? Most of the time when we ask that hard pointed question, clients say we do need to have an open conversation about this. When that happens, we’re ready. We’re here to help. Let’s outline it, let’s build the project plan, and let’s see what we can deliver for you.

Thanks for joining us for the latest vXchnge Tech Talk! Be sure to subscribe to the vXchnge blog to catch future installments of our Tech Talk series.

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