Key questions to ask your colocation services provider, and why they’re important.
There are numerous audit standards for data centers today. It is important to understand how rigorously your provider engages in their desired protocol. The most common audit protocol for data center providers is SSAE 16 (Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 16) SOC 1 (Service Organization Control 1) audit.
Ideally you should be looking for 100% performance on all environmental controls – as a fully redundant data center should not have experienced complete outages. If an SLA has not been met, be sure to ask the data center provider what happened and how the incident was managed. The way in which the issue was addressed (or policies/procedures in place) will provide valuable insight into the quality of the provider.
Fractional cabinets are becoming more important as infrastructure needs continue to evolve. The ability to provision 10U or 21U of colocation space can equate to significant cost savings contingent on your infrastructure needs.
Data centers that allow you to phase your colocation deployments will likely be the most flexible providers to work with.
Perhaps you are moving data centers and require contiguous cabinets, but aren’t quite ready to relocate all of your servers in one move. Perhaps you need to ramp your deployment in phases while implementing a new product offering. Whatever the reason, a data center provider that is willing to work with you to phase your deployment is a great indication of a healthy partnership.
Learning the history of the facility will help you understand the value the data center provider is offering. For instance, was the building purpose-built for colocation? Who designed the infrastructure and when? These questions will provide you with valuable insight into the quality of the provider. More important than the construction date, however, is the facility’s ability to meet your SLAs.
Given that your staff may be spending substantial time at the data center, look for a provider that offers workspace, lounges and conference rooms where your staff can connect laptops or take a conference call, connect to WiFi, and so forth. These amenities provide a comfortable work environment and keep staff productive.
Colocation cabinet manufactures make hundreds of different sized cabinets. Be sure you know what your provider’s standards are – including height / width / depth – so that you know your equipment will fit within the existing cabinet footprint. Data center providers should collaborate with you to ensure your colocation configuration is appropriate for your needs.
Rated floor weight limits will vary by the type of floor within the data center. The rated floor weight limit for many raised-floor data centers is 250 lbs. per square foot. Rated floor weights for non-raised floors will vary by facility.
If this is a concern, be sure you are aware of the weight of your existing equipment so that specific configurations can be discussed as needed. In many cases additional support can be provided to support weight limits in excess of standard rated capacity.
Business continuity and disaster recovery plans can be provided upon request by most Miami data center operators. The best way to discuss or review these critical processes is to request a copy of the provider’s disaster preparedness procedures. The processes contained in the document should remove any doubt as to exactly what will happen should an event occur.
A provider with a full range of connectivity options can ensure all of your locations get the access they need to your Miami colocation environment. Carrier-neutrality refers to data centers that allow interconnection between many providers. Customers at carrier-neutral data centers are not restricted to any one bandwidth service provider, which facilitates diversity in bandwidth options for the customer seeking service.
If you’re looking for a standard connection, the presence of your desired carrier partner will likely be enough. However, if you’re looking for a non-standard partner, or a non-standard connection, be sure your data center provider has the relationships in place to execute the agreement.
The provider should offer direct connectivity (to your selected carrier/s) from the data center Meet-Me-Room (MMR) to your colocation space – this ensures no additional points of failure.
In the event of a power outage (or an environmental event) there should not be any impact on your business operations/applications hosted at the data center facility.
You should be looking for:
Primary and redundant power should be available for all colocation configurations – whether it’s a fractional cabinet, a full cabinet or a cage.
The minimum and maximum amount of power will vary by cabinet size. Most providers will deliver enough power to support standard equipment within your cabinet.
A good set of metrics for standard power configurations:
Providers who support increasing provisioned power at the cabinet level will have specific business processes for this request. Be sure you are aware of the process in advance so that you know how long such an upgrade will take.
The most important aspect of a cooling system is its ability to provide service in the event of a power outage. In some cases reserve power does not fully support operational cooling systems. Consequently, the data center will experience heat issues in conjunction with a power event. Be sure the cooling system is set to support cooling at SLA levels should a power event occur.
Most data centers provide hot /cold aisle delivery. The manner in which these aisles are contained will vary. If this is an area of particular interest, be sure to ask for a tour of the data center to experience how the system operates in a real-world environment. The data center operator should also provide guidelines for equipment installation to maintain the hot / cold isle configuration, should you or other data center customers install equipment.
Data centers will provide advanced fire detection systems. However, not all data centers will provide advanced fire suppression systems. Be sure that any suppression system deployment occurs in zones, not floor or room wide. This configuration will ensure that only the equipment in question is impacted should the system be deployed.
We recommend you go and experience the data center security for yourself. A list of security features will likely not do service to the impact of seeing them in action.
While researching or touring the facility, you should expect to see the following levels of security:
Many data centers will have hundreds of cameras surveilling the facility, perimeter and interior. Before investing in proprietary monitoring equipment, tour the facility yourself. This will help you understand exactly how the monitoring equipment is configured and managed. If you have a need for additional equipment, be sure the placement of the equipment is included in your agreement so that it accurately reflects your requirements.
Most providers permit unescorted access for pre-screened individuals (individuals on customer-approved Data Center Access Lists). Within a provider’s data center guidelines / rules, access procedures should be outlined. The decision to permit access to your equipment is ultimately yours. Your provider should be a partner in helping you develop, maintain and enforce these policies.
It is important to know whether or not Remote Hands is available as needed (24/7) and how these services are billed. Technical support services can significantly increase your total cost for colocation services, so make sure you know the rates upfront.
Be certain that a ticket tracking system is in place, and be clear on any escalation procedures so that there is no uncertainty with how tickets are created, managed and resolved.
A data center provider will have a standard set of included features that come along with their colocation offering. You should expect to see features including, but not limited to:
A data center’s SLA sets the guidelines that determine the provider’s responsibility in the event of an outage that causes downtime for your colocation environment or other environmental factors such as data center cooling and security.
The SLA should explicitly state the guarantees the data center will abide by in providing you colocation services. It is critical to understand and evaluate which areas of your infrastructure are your provider’s responsibility as opposed to your responsibility.
Make sure the provider offers billing credits proactively for any downtime because this is most likely to have the largest impact on your business financially.
Browse our comprehensive library of eBooks, guides, checklists, data sheets and other downloads – all designed to help you optimize your IT infrastructure.
Key questions to ask your colocation services provider to gain an understanding of their data center model.