Re-examining Your Data Center Strategy? Five Questions to Consider

David Mettler, VP, Sales, Market Director–US, IO
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David Mettler, VP, Sales, Market Director–US, IO

Moving your IT infrastructure–servers, storage and network gear–to a multi-tenant data center is a big decision for companies of all types and sizes. However, this strategy, also known as data center colocation, can be necessary if your organizationis looking to address infrastructure capacity constraints and improve efficiency. With collocation, small businesses typically gain access to economies of scale, advanced infrastructure, greater bandwidth and operational expertise.

A shift in data center strategies, including a move to colocation, is often triggered by corporate events such as when companies experience a disruption in data center service, organic growth creating new capacity demands, or the end of an existing data center services contract. Has your company experienced any of these scenarios? If yes, now may be the time to re-examine your data center strategy. In order to ensure your strategy is in line with your business needs, ask your organization the following questions:

1. Is it time to make a change?

Many businesses don’t look to make data center infrastructure changes unless there is a significant need. Perhaps a business experiences a disruption in their service and realizes they may need to implement a different data center strategy to avoid future failures, or maybe they decide using colocation for a secondary site is in their best interest as a part of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Businesses also consider new data center services when they are experiencing organic or acquisition-based growth and realize current infrastructure is insufficient for their needs.

 With collocation, small businesses typically gain access to economies of scale, advanced infrastructure, greater bandwidth and operational expertise 

While these are all excellent reasons to evaluate your strategy, businesses should regularly investigate different data center options. That way they can ensure their company has the most effective data center strategy and avoid the mistakes and failures that would prompt them to make a change.

2. How can I ensure all the data center service basics are covered in a colocation offering?

In assessing an offering, the first step is to make sure your colocation provider has reliable and resilient power and cooling capabilities in place to help ensure always-on uptime and optimal performance. Also it is important to have multiple layers of security and carrier neutral network connectivity.

Physical data center security needs include video cameras to monitor all general areas within the facility; man-traps, equipped with biometric authentication, to prevent impersonation and unauthorized tail-gating; and fire-rated walls and doors to protect against a disaster.

Network options should allow you to extend private networks without using the public internet. This approach needs to not only include communications between multiple systems within a single data center footprint but also cover communications between colocation infrastructure and any end point, including other data centers and public cloud services. Doing so will enable a borderless data center, connecting any location with a network presence.

3. How does the way colocation services are delivered impact security?

The way data center providers deploy their services can lead to greater security for colocation users. For example, modular technology allows for a level of compartmentalization that can help to separate your IT equipment and data from those next door, oftentimes another company. If something goes wrong in your neighbor’s colocation area, you can be sure your systems and data will remain unaffected. Keeping an eye out for these built-in benefits can ensure your data and systems are secure.

4. How should I factor energy consumption and sustainable practices into my colocation considerations?

Data centers use huge amounts of power and consume large volumes of water. The degree to which your data center provider invests in energy efficient and sustainable operations should be a key consideration for companies that care about their environmental footprint.

If creating a sustainable data center strategy is fundamental to your business principles, ask your data center provider about their environmentally friendly practices. Some data centers utilize modular technology as opposed to raised floor as this construction can be more efficient in design and operation. You can also ask how your data center provider minimizes CO2 emissions at their site and throughout their business. Do they anticipate getting energy from renewable sources? Do they incorporate social responsibility into their own corporate goals? These are all pertinent questions to ask when factoring sustainability into your data center strategy.

5. How can I plan my next data center steps when I am unsure what future needs will be?

Data center and IT leaders generally buy more capacity than they need in order to prepare for future demands. Ideally, a small business would only pay for the exact capacity they need at any given moment. The best way to ensure you aren’t over buying is to find a colocation service provider that can provision services in small increments of power with short delivery time. This approach will ensure you aren’t paying for unused capacity, and quick turnaround for delivery means that you can add capacity in alignment with your changing business needs.

It is of equal importance for businesses to find a service provider that has state of the art network services with secure, virtual connectivity throughout their data center footprint. Your data center provider should also offer access to public and private cloud providers, as well as dedicated infrastructure services for both computing and storage. This is a must for companies already utilizing the cloud, but is also important for organizations considering transitioning to the cloud in the future.

Upgrading Your Data Center Strategy

As your growing business looks to address the need to scale your data center environment, it is important to plan to provision for what you need now and also for the future. By doing so, you will position your company to intelligently manage the data center to drive more efficient operations and improved performance.

The key to a future-proofed data center strategy is finding a data center providerthat is flexible and can offer secure, sustainable and compartmentalized services.Many companies feel that they need to compromise in order to meet these needs. But if they find the right data center services provider, they can easily align their data center strategy with their business strategy with an eye towards the future.

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