The pace in which technology is advancing makes it near impossible to predict what the business landscape will look like in five years’ time. One thing is for certain: IT requirements are changing and will continue to do so for the unforeseeable future.
With the ever-changing needs of business infrastructure, many organisations trust in data centres to play a critical role in meeting their IT requirements. Whether a business’ in-house data centre has reached capacity, perhaps requires an upgrade, or needs to comply with a new set of regulations and standards. Whatever the reason, choosing an external data centre provider can be overwhelming in today’s overcrowded marketplace.
Nowadays, data centres have become an extension of the business rather than being an independent entity. However, not all data centres are made equal and choosing the right provider for an organisation is absolutely critical for greater efficiency, productivity and business growth.
Geographical location is one of the most important factors for any organisation when choosing a data centre. While advanced networking technologies have practically eliminated latency, data proximity must still be a huge consideration.
While businesses are looking to move data offsite, it’s important to choose a partner which is easy for tech personnel to reach when needed. Organisations should therefore look to partner with a provider with data centres in the same region. The ability to get to a data facility in good time to rectify a potential issue that may arise can help save the costs incurred by downtime and the impact it has on customers.
Businesses must also take into consideration geological risk such as natural disasters. This factor is usually at the forefront of most providers minds, however extra precautions with a business’s critical infrastructure should always be taken to avoid disaster striking.
Power and cooling efficiency
Power is the biggest cost associated with running a data centre, and is also the primary cause of downtime. While this is often an over-looked factor when selecting a data centre facility, it’s arguably one the most important considerations.
A power outage can have devastating effects if a data centre does not have sufficient back-up in place. It’s therefore crucial that businesses must have confidence in their data centre provider’s power and cooling capabilities, and should always check that their future provider has appropriate systems in place in the event of a power failure.
Both power and cooling are closely linked and are essential to keeping a business’ infrastructure running optimally. A provider that boasts super-efficient cooling systems will consume less power overall, which ultimately means fewer charges will be passed on.
When choosing a provider, businesses should consider the following: How quickly does the infrastructure need to be up and running? Will business continuity be affected? Will daily operations be affected? What happens if new components to the infrastructure need to be added?
More often than not, businesses want their space set up as quickly and efficiently as possible, and therefore should choose a provider who is willing to give reassurances about deployment efficiency, even if it isn’t something that can easily be measured or quantified. It’s crucial that vendors clearly communicate timelines and manage the expectations of a business and its users.
Flexibility & scalability
Knowing what an organisation’s infrastructure requirements are today is the easy part, but knowing what they will look like in the future is a different story. This is particularly relevant for new businesses experiencing rapid growth with the need to scale seamlessly. As a result, it is critical to pick a provider that allows for flexibility, depending on what is required of the business at any given time.
When it comes to scalability, scope should not just be measured in terms of a data centre’s physical space. With the wealth of data businesses have complied over the years, the ability to scale is a pivotal requirement for modern organisations. Choosing the right data centre facility should complement this today and tomorrow.
Data centre security is a clear priority, and it should be top of mind when selecting a data centre provider. Today, the number of data breaches is higher than ever, and the cost to a business could be catastrophic. Due to the pervasive nature of modern cyber criminals, it’s better to look at the security position through the lens of risk management.
Industry standards mean that multiple levels of security both inside and outside of a data centre must be applied. While infrastructure security, hardware and software solutions are essential aspects, the physical security of a data centre is just as vital. A round-the-clock physical presence, sophisticated key card entry systems, CCTV cameras and cabinet locks, all play a pivotal role in ensuring that only authorised individuals can get close to valuable infrastructure assets. When it comes to choosing a provider, businesses must be assured that its data is protected to the highest possible standard.
A lightning-fast, resilient network is imperative, and something that every business wants to take full advantage of. A data centre is only as good as its connectivity – if you can’t connect to a data centre and stay connected, what’s the point in your data being there in the first place?
Business applications and systems are now more network-intensive than ever, placing huge demands on data centres. Therefore reliable, future-proof connectivity is critical to business success, and without it, organisations are unable to operate and deliver at the speed and scale required for optimum efficiency.
Carrier neutrality is vital as it provides a choice of supplier to transport data. Equally as important is a data centre operator’s ability to connect a business’ infrastructure to a wider ecosystem of cloud services, be it their own or third party. This network expertise is vital to ensure data centre services can connect seamlessly to a wider hybrid infrastructure.
Choosing the right provider for your business
Choosing a data centre provider is a huge decision for any business. After all, housing an organisation’s mission-critical infrastructure within someone else’s facility is daunting to say the least.
Data centres undoubtedly vary, and there is a significant disparity between different facilities from cost, to connectivity, to the level of technical support an organisation will receive. However, this isn’t to criticise any particular provider - different businesses have a range of different needs, and therefore data centres are not a one size fits all model.
Before making a selection, the criteria above should serve as a good reference point for any business looking to seek a provider, one that will not only meet their IT requirements today, but also over the years to come.
Tom Adams, Director of Product Marketing, Cogeco Peer 1