What to look for in a data centre
Choosing a data centre for managed services or co-location is a big decision. When you’re handing your mission critical IT infrastructure to an external data centre provider, you need to know that they will be able to meet your individual business requirements.
While requirements will vary from business to business, there are several key criteria that every business should use when assessing different data centres and providers. Here are just a few of the things you should look out for when you’re choosing a data centre:
Location should be one of your first priorities when choosing a data centre. If your disaster recovery plan requires you to have a certain radius between the data centre and your site, a facility that’s close to your business is essential. A local data centre will also be more convenient for colocation customers, as it makes it easier for your team to get there if they need to upgrade, perform backup and recovery tests or service your equipment, for example.
You will also need to ensure that the data centre you select is in a secure location. While earthquakes and tornadoes may not be huge concern for a UK data centre, natural disasters like flooding should be taken into consideration when you’re deciding where to place your critical infrastructure. You should also enquire about the facility’s access to power – where are the power stations located? Are there plenty of fibre paths going to and from the data centre? What happens if there’s a problem with one of the power sources – is there sufficient backup contingency?
Downtime can seriously affect the productivity and profitability of your business – in fact, recent research by Gartner has revealed that on average, data centre downtime costs around £4,000 per minute. Therefore, you need to look for a data centre provider that can guarantee high availability.
The Uptime Institute’s tiering system is a good way to determine the reliability and performance you can expect from a data centre. The institute ranks data centres from Tier 1 to Tier 4, with Tier 4 facilities offering the most robust service. Opt for a data centre that is designed to Tier 3 and Tier 4 standards in order to ensure the highest levels of availability, and therefore uptime.
Look out for data centres that have a variety of network carriers that can provide connectivity within the data centre, as some are limited to just one or two. Typically, prices are more competitive within data centres that have multiple network carrier options.
Some of the more innovative data centres will enable you to interconnect to a range of national and international carriers’ existing private networks without the need for any additional physical networking equipment. If you can find a data centre with this capability, you could avoid the cost of leased lines, network bearers and routers. This should also dramatically reduce implementation times and the ongoing costs of maintaining an externally hosted infrastructure.
When you’re trusting a data centre provider with business-critical data, you need to know that it’s in safe hands. You should ensure that the facility is physically secure, so in addition to checking their risk mitigation strategy for natural disasters, you should also review their on-site security processes. How do they manage access to the data centre – are some areas of the facility restricted to authorised personnel only? Do they monitor the entrances and exits, and have an alarm system?
A data centre provider should also have robust cybersecurity policies in place to keep your data safe from hackers. Ask potential providers about the security and performance management tools they use to secure the data they hold, such as load balancers, DDoS protection and virtual firewalls. You should also ask about any security accreditations they hold – international standards like ISO 27001, which defines best practice for an information security management system, are a good indication that the provider has robust security standards.
As your business expands, you will need a data centre provider that’s flexible enough to scale up with you. So in addition to considering your business’s requirements from a data centre and provider today, you should also think about what you’re likely to need several years down the line.
Many businesses can expect the amount of data they collect to grow rapidly over the next few years as big data and AI become ever more commonplace, and if you believe this will be the case for your business then you need to look for a provider that can offer high bandwidth and network speeds in order to handle any predicted influx in data requirements. You should also think about whether you’ll need extra services from a provider in the future, from private cloud services to a completely managed service solution.
Choosing a data centre?
At Blue Chip, we specialise in critical IT infrastructure, and we provide managed services to businesses operating within tightly regulated sectors such as the banking and payment industries. As such, our Tier 3 and Tier 4 by design data centres are certified to the highest security standards – so whether you’re looking for a dedicated managed service, or co-location in one of our data halls, we can guarantee 99.995% availability.
You don’t have to take our word for it – you can visit our sites and see our security protocols in action. If you’d like to take a tour of our world-leading data centres, or simply ask our experts about the data centre services we can offer your business, call us on 01234 224400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.