5 Things to Look for in a Data Center

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With cloud services overtaking the data management market, many business decision makers don’t realize how important infrastructure and other considerations are to a data center. Even if you’re opting for cloud storage solutions, that functionality is held up by physical hardware and individual workers somewhere on the planet. When selecting a data center provider, there are some physical, procedural, and financial aspects you must consider.

#1. Strength of Location

The Internet has lulled businesses into the belief that location isn’t important. “Work from anywhere in the world!” has become a tagline for employers, but you don’t want a data center located anywhere in the world. Centers located in an area at high risk for natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes, increase the risks for your data. If you do select a provider that has a primary data warehouse in such an area, ensure the company has backup facilities elsewhere.

Proximity to local telecommunications centers is also important for a good wireless or wired data connection. This also increases the chance of carrier-neutrality. Neutrality lets the data center work with a variety of communication carriers, reducing your costs and hassle in connecting with data.

#2. Redundancy on all Levels

Redundancy is an essential part of any data storage, but backing up data to multiple locations isn’t the only thing that’s important. A good data center provides redundancy for all functions, including power and Internet access. Backup generators and UPS’s help keep data available even during power outages. For optimal assurance, ask whether the data center has N+1 power grid connectivity to a secondary source, which is the best way to maintain data access during a catastrophic event.

Other redundancies to look for include:

  • Multiple Internet connectivity options to keep data flowing in the event of an outage.
  • Automatic switches and backup equipment to account for hardware failure without the necessary and immediate intervention of a human.
  • Available support from data center employees at any time with multiple access points, including phone, email, messaging or support ticket systems.

#3. Security and Limited Access

Security of information and limited access to the data center are both important. Look for a center that provides both electronic and physical security guarantees. If data is hacked by outside sources, your company can face loss of customers, loss of money, and–if you’re in a regulated industry such as finance or healthcare–steep fines and sanctions. Information theft isn’t the only thing that can disrupt your business. A single disgruntled person can vandalize data center equipment in any number of ways, causing issues with data storage and retrieval. Redundancy removes some of the risk, but data warehouses should also ensure perimeter security and limited access to the site.

#4. Service Level Agreements

The best way to ensure you’re happy with services provided by a data center is to start out with a contract. Work with data centers that are willing to sign service level agreements. Include agreements for things such as:

  • Total percent of uptime.
  • Physical security guarantees.
  • Average bandwidth.
  • Time it takes to respond to service requests.

An SLA agreement shouldn’t just guarantee a certain level of service. It should also ensure that your contract spells out reparations if SLAs fall out of scope. Provisions might include the fact that the data center will be responsible for bringing SLAs into scope in a certain amount of time, must provide an explanation for the SLA miss, and must pay a fine or partial refund on missed SLAs.

#5. Costs that Work with Budget

Cost should never be the first concern when looking at data centers. The lowest price may come with the worst security and no redundancy, which is likely to cost your company more in future data loss or downtime. Cost is important, though. Once you ensure a data center meets other requirements, ask for detailed cost information. Will you be charged per access? Does the number of users who access data increase costs? How does bandwidth or data size play a role in the price of service? Are you purchasing retail or wholesale data center space, and what infrastructure are you responsible for?

Taking the time to consider all aspects of data management ensures you choose a data center provider that meets all your needs. A good relationship with your provider is the backbone of future efficiency, cost-savings, and data security.

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