As the world of tech becomes more advanced, businesses and individuals have become more invested in the future and security of their data assets. With that investment has come a growing interest in data center and colocation services. Is collocating the right fit for your business needs?
There are a variety of components that factor into the decision to collocate. If you think colocation may be the right fit for you, we have a breakdown of the key considerations to keep in mind.
Often, the starting point for many businesses when researching data center services is determining a strategic location that fits the business’s overall needs. Data center facilities have been cropping up around the United States in abundance over recent years, but the key is to select a facility that is both convenient and supplemental to daily operations, as the location of a data center can directly influence a variety of other key considerations in the colocation process.
For example, is the facility strategically located within a key Internet exchange point, in order to afford for optimal connectivity, and outside of the FEMA 500-year flood zone (low-risk of natural disasters)? Is the facility within traveling distance from the business headquarters, and if not, does the data center account for that lack of accessibility, perhaps with amenities such as a 24/7 support team or remote hands services? These considerations are crucial when outsourcing data and can mean the difference between protecting business critical information from a disruption in the event of a natural disaster or technical outage.
Directly tied to location, a data center’s connectivity offering plays a significant role in whether or not the facility is a good fit for a business. If a business requires access to a specific region of the world, they will likely choose to collocate in a facility that is in or near that location. Additionally, a provider with a wide range of connectivity options not only ensures access to a variety of locations for fast and reliable networking, but provides the convenience of choice for both the business and its clients’ diverse requirements.
A primary benefit of data center services is the peace of mind that collocating provides, knowing that business critical assets are secure and maintained at all times. As such, security should come as a huge consideration when evaluating colocation providers. Within the data center, all technologies should be up-to-date, deploying layered security measures such as biometric scanners, card keys or key fobs, mantraps and surveillance equipment to manage access to the facility. Additionally, checking in with the provider’s compliance standards is a good way to ensure that current standards and regulatory requirements are being met – SSAE 16, PCI DSS, and HIPAA are a few to look for. Finally, redundancy – providing an extra layer of equipment, personnel, or storage in the event of the primary source’s failure – is one of the key selling points of colocation, and as such, it’s essential that all equipment (generators, batteries, HVAC systems, etc.), are monitored regularly in order to ensure that customers’ vital information and data assets are secure.
A skilled, dedicated support team can make all the difference when it comes to data center selection. Even if a business is in close proximity to its provider, it is unlikely that staff will always be available to tend to minor incidents onsite. Instead, many data center facilities offer 24/7 onsite support availability, which is especially convenient for quick response to minor maintenance issues such as reboots or cross-connect installs, and for more unique scenarios such as a server failure outside of business hours. A provider’s support team can help prevent minor incidents from escalating, and can help businesses maintain day-to-day operations without disruption.
Another important consideration when researching colocation providers is whether or not the facility has the capacity to expand with your business. As businesses grow, broadening their network and customer base, the need for more colocation space may arise as well. Facilities that offer a variety of customized solutions to fit industry need provide businesses with the flexibility to scale their solution as needed. Space, power, security and support can be tailored to fit the customer, no matter how big or how small.
As stated, staying up-to-date on the latest industry standards is a good way to gauge whether the facility is taking all of the necessary steps possible to protect its clients’ business critical information. Compliance refers to the controls, processes and procedures that evaluate a data center’s overall security. Some of today’s most common compliance standards include SSAE 16 (SOC 1, SOC 2 & SOC 3), PCI DSS, LEED, and HIPAA. Facilities that adhere by these compliance standards demonstrate an awareness and regard for industry guidelines, which is likely to translate to customers’ business needs.
Collocating is a way to ensure that business critical assets are protected no matter what. As such, disaster preparedness should be a huge part of any data center’s strategy – to guarantee security and redundancy in the event of any emergency that may threaten business operations. First and foremost, the facility should have a redundant infrastructure in place – that “extra layer” of equipment, personnel, or storage that guarantees backup in the event of an outage or other unexpected event. Redundancy should function across all critical areas – generators, batteries, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, water, power and telephone lines, as reinforcement will ensure that the facility is able to operate independently of the main system controls in an emergency. Additionally, data centers should be able to produce a well-documented emergency response plan – a breakdown of steps to be taken before, during, and after a disaster. The communication surrounding best practices in a data center disaster should be open and thorough; the customer should know exactly how their data will be maintained in such event.
Data centers are not “one size fits all.” As such, understanding the different types of facilities and service offerings can help businesses make the right choice for their unique needs. From in-house facilities to colocation facilities, wholesale facilities and hosting options, businesses should consider all options available to them within the industry, in order to find the solution that will best fit the business’s overall goals.
Naturally, cost is going to be one of the first considerations for any business looking to outsource their IT needs. Budgeting is a core of every business strategy, but it is worth taking a closer look at pricing when it comes to data center providers. Colocation offerings come in packages often ranked within a pricing structure. How much a business pays for colocation services will likely depend on a variety of factors including power, facility size, supply and demand, connectivity, bandwidth and security. In understanding each of the individualized components that tie into a robust colocation solution, one can be better aware of the potential costs of colocation.
A final – and less rigid – point of consideration for those seeking a data center facility is community. When selecting a data center provider, it will do a huge service for the business if staff are able to quickly and efficiently communicate their needs to the provider, with assurance that their needs will be addressed in a professional, timely manner. See what amenities the facility provides – a workspace, WiFi availability, customer lounges or validated parking – and those that have the potential to make life easier for your employees. By establishing a solid foundation of trust with your data center provider, you can rest assured knowing that your business critical assets are in good hands for the future.
Ready to take the first step? Check out our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to start!