20 Mar Ten Tips for Choosing the Right Data Center
With over three million data centers in the United States — one for every 100 people — your organization has a buffet of choices when picking the right data center.
How do you know which is right for your enterprise? Can those three million facilities housing near-identical racks of servers cabinets really be all that different?
The answer? Yes — they sure are. We’re here to help you definitively navigate finding the right data center for your organization with this checklist of facility tricks and considerations.
What to Look for in a Data Center
Cost? Capacity? Customer support? Overall contract convenience? When hunting for the right data center, prioritize these top 10 characteristics to ensure you’re getting what you need at a price point equally as prudent.
1. Find the Right Location
In most cases, a geographically close data center is ideal, so long as you’re not in any area privy to natural disasters. Data center brokers in your region can help you identify pertinent nearby facilities meeting your data usage requirements, as well as review networks of redundant distributed centers if demanded by your business needs case.
Other data center location considerations to review will be:
- Local power sources and pricing: Data centers require immense amounts of electricity to operate, some siphoning enough power to fuel a small town. Since electric rates vary widely based on location, it pays to shop around.
- Broadband service availability: Like electricity, broadband price points change based on geographic locations and infrastructure availability and must be considered during contract procurement.
2. Check Reliability
You and your service provider will draft a service level agreement (SLA) outlining the expected performance of your data center. Your provider is contractually obligated to maintain the performance metrics stated in those agreements, including:
- Maximum network uptime: Data center reliability is measured in uptimes. Currently, there are four tiers of data center uptimes, the lowest offering 99.671% uptime averages and the highest, most reliable running at 99.995%.
- Environmental controls: This aspect includes temperature regulations and back-up systems within the data center itself, as well as supplementary controls like fire prevention and dehumidifying systems.
- Backup power systems: A backup power system helps to ensure a facility’s power never goes down. It also offers redundant connections further securing the data stored on its servers.
3. Invest in Security
Data and security are like a drum set with its drumsticks — each works as intended only with the other.
Data centers should offer numerous cutting-edge security layers for its contained servers. What’s more, many industry certificates and audits exist that distinguish the authenticity of those security features, such as SSAE-16 SOC 1 and SOC 2 and HIPAA regulations. Alongside these certificates, ask a provider about its facility’s:
- Restricted physical access to data center floors
- Video surveillance, authentication for entry and room mantraps
- Access logs and login traffic monitoring
- Overall server traffic controls and segments
- Secure file transfer protocols (SFTP)
- Regular facility security audits (for physical and digital architecture)
4. Understand Future Scaling Potential
As your business grows, so will its need for increased server storage, speed and performance. This requires foresight in working with a facility partner who can scale with you, often via these data center scalability offerings, namely:
- Colocation, private or managed centers: A mix of data-hosting environments, from colocation to dedicated servers to cloud servers, or a hybrid approach customized for your ongoing needs.
- Shared and dedicated equipment: A variety of rented and private servers and equipment configured for your specific digital business applications.
5. Consider Facility/Contract Flexibility
The right data center facility works within your stated requirements to provide the most robust storage, speed and security solutions.
That onus means inherent flexibility in the tenets of their SLAs as well as a willingness and openness to work with your specific use cases. Consider asking providers their history and potential to offer:
- Private, shared or cloud environments, plus how many organizations are hosted on colocations.
- The topologies of site architectures supported by its equipment.
- Management approaches across the gamut of its operations, from storage and backups to cooling, facility powering and 24/7 security monitoring.
6. Look at Efficiency
Efficiency in data centers can be understood in a few ways, each of which your organization should explore when vetting its potential new facilities:
- Data center tiers: A facility’s uptime tier will give you an immediate barometer to measure its system uptimes versus downtimes as well as its power-outage protections.
- Compatible overall topologies: Your facility’s layout, storage equipment and other IT infrastructure must match the exact needs of your website and data architecture to perform as intended.
7. Don’t Forget Operational Stability
Data center stability ensures the safety and functionality of the facility’s operations. From keeping the lights on to preserving your enterprise data during a breach attempt or natural disaster, learn how providers respond to web hosting’s most pressing risks, including through:
- Redundancy: In data centers, redundant infrastructure safely duplicates and stores client data in the event of a breach, loss or IT equipment damage incident.
- Rapid failover: Rapid failover policies assure your data gets transferred seamlessly to another center in the event your original location becomes inoperable.
- Fault-tolerances: This includes physical infrastructure, such as on-hand and immediately deployable back-up power sources like generators, as well as power storage and distribution oversight systems.
8. Match Capacities
A data center’s capacity encompasses all the physical and digital tools in its arsenal to safely run its facility, plus how it goes about managing day-to-day operations.
The right data center will make those capability structures and policies transparent while detailing how its way of operating matches your business case. For example:
- Available data center types and affordances, from exclusive centers to shared colocations to a hybrid managed hosting provider (MSP).
- Fully operational computing equipment and resources ready for immediate storage deployment.
- Appropriate power loads, power monitoring and power backup solutions
- Network connectivity, with a provider able to show robust support of current client’s interconnectivity without frequent instances of lags or downtimes.
9. Review Its Reputation
Perform due diligence, as you would with any new business partnership or contractual agreement. That means checking into a data center’s:
- Overall industry reputation
- Online reviews
- Industry expertise and thought leadership
- Past client types and testimonies
- Press releases
- Financial history and stability
- Leadership team
- General interactions and support during the procurement process
10. Ask About Emergency Backup Procedures
Finally, consider the back-up systems maintained by your data centers. This is perhaps one of the largest considerations when looking for a new data center, with backups protecting you from existential data loss, network disruptions, crashed websites and — most importantly — halted business.
Ask providers what contingency equipment and policies they practice, including:
- Complete redundancy portfolio for backing up data
- Data backup frequency
- Hardware and software reconfiguration schedules
- Rapid failover transfer policies, secondary facility locations
- Equipment battery backups and on-premises power generators
- Power feeds, including A + B power feeds, fueling proper redundancy activities
- Rapid-response protocols involved during failovers or calamity incidents
Centrally Located Data Centers in Pennsylvania
Netrepid offers a state-of-the-art, leading portfolio of data storage and web hosting services through our flagship data facility in Harrisburg. See over a dozen of our data center’s features and functions for yourself, then reach out for a colocation data center quote for your business today.