Selecting a colocation provider: 7 keys to consider

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Editor: The following is a guest post from one of our supporters.

Organizations are increasingly starting to recognize the importance of choosing a top collocation provider when faced with the need to optimize hosting resources. While colocation services may seem nothing more than just a commodity, it is good to remember that minor differences between providers can have an adverse impact on the overall performance of your business.

That said, you should thoroughly scrutinize all aspects of your IT infrastructure ranging from applications supporting key customer interactions to your colocation provider. To get you started, we review the seven most important things to consider when choosing a colocation center.

:24/7 Disaster Recovery Solutions

You will be risking irreplaceable data, mission-critical systems and applications if you choose a colocation center that doesn’t provide round the clock disaster recovery solutions. Simple mishaps like equipment failure can bring everything to a halt, damaging your business reputation in the process.

Consider a colocation data center that keeps your applications and data safe. Such a center will have a full spectrum of offerings including managed data backups and complete 24/7 disaster recovery. Availability of these recovery solutions goes a long way towards ensuring business continuity. You also enjoy continuous data protection not to mention immediate recovery of critical applications.

Ensuring that there is always someone to help should any problem arise gives you peace of mind. If anything goes wrong, regardless of whether it is night or day, you know that can always depend on the fact that it will be fixed promptly and your business will continue experiencing maximum uptime.

Multi-layered Power and Cooling Technologies and Backups

Another important factor to consider involves the cooling technologies and backups. Power is one of the critical elements of data backup centers. You want to ensure that your colocation provider offers 100% uptime SLA for power as well as redundant power systems.

Such a provider has engineered their system with maintainable power resources to ensure uninterrupted service even when a source of energy is offline. The amount of power provided should, in addition to today’s needs, be able to meet your future needs.

With increased server demands comes a risk of overheating. This necessitates the need for efficient cooling systems. Your provider should invest cooling technologies to protect your hardware. Techniques to look for include cooling walls, hot and cold aisles, as well as proper air containment systems. Overall, the center should be able to meet the required standard ranges for humidity and temperature.

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Flexible Master Service Agreement (MSA) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Contracts are usually designed to protect the colocation provider. As a business owner, it is important to be proactive when it comes to addressing the MSA and SLA items that are critical to your firm.

Consult with vendors to get an insight and better understanding of what they are willing to revise or include to better protect your business. Don’t make a mistake of waiting until you have chosen a provider to address the issues outlined in the master service agreement and service level agreements.

Network Carrier Redundancy

One of the best practices by colocation centers is carrier neutrality and provision of a variety of network carriers that provide connectivity. There are many benefits to choosing a vendor who offers network carrier neutrality. These include the ability to minimize costs while maximizing bandwidths, affordability, as well as avoiding conflict of interest.

It is important that you identify which providers are “lit” within the building. Identifying other vendors that provide a connection from a carrier does not hurt as well.
While costs associated with the cross-connect increase, a carrier hotel offers additional options to clients. Last but not least, make sure you understand the redundancy associated with routing to and within the colocation facility.

Up to Date Physical and Logical Security Practices

When selecting your provider, don’t forget about the importance of security measures available. Not all data backup centers are equal when it comes to physical and logical security practices. The provider you choose should incorporate up to date technologies capable of keeping your environment safe.

Installation of cameras is a good way to enhance security and monitor your equipment remotely. This is something that the vendor should be able to allow. Centers with 24/7 trained security personnel provide much-needed assurance as an extra level of security.

In addition to physical security, look for a colocation provider that can augment security with additional services like threat detection, DDoS protection, and network security. These are professional services designed to test, evaluate and remediate vulnerabilities. This ultimately improves your environment’s ability to withstand intrusions.

Verify Your Provider’s Certification With the Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute is an advisory organization established in 1993 by Kenneth G. Brill. Its primary focus is improving performance, reliability, and efficiency of business infrastructure. The organization achieves this through collaboration, innovation, and independent certifications.

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The tier certifications by Uptime Institute are a good way to determine whether you are getting what you pay for. The certifications come in two forms, i.e., Design Documents and Constructed Facility. There are four levels of each certification – basic site infrastructure, redundant capacity components site infrastructure, concurrently maintainable site infrastructure and fault tolerant site infrastructure.

Uptime Institute also awards Operational Sustainability certification, which focuses on operations, maintenance, and management of sites. It is issued in three levels – Bronze (significant opportunities for improvement), Silver (opportunities for improvement to achieve full potential) and Gold (full uptime potential of installed infrastructure).
This certification builds a bridge between Tier functionality of site infrastructure and site management behaviors.

Consider the Location of Colocation Provider’s Data Center

A common requirement for firms in search of colocation services is a data center that is close to company offices. The advantages of this go beyond easy access by your staff. Choosing a data center that is near your offices goes a long way towards making it easier to improve the performance of IT infrastructure.

Another benefit of proximity is reduced replication issues. When chatty applications become more widespread, existing latency issues worsen and severely impact performance. Choosing a data center that is close to your business location can help reduce the effect of such latency issues on your environment.

Your colocation vendor should also make it possible for you to deploy your environments. This helps with backing up data, circumventing power interruptions or local weather as well as running additional instances of applications.

Having the option to expand your space is also crucial as it saves you the cost and time taken to look for a new vendor in future. Your provider should be well funded to invest in additional build-outs.

Conclusion

A colocation service provider fulfills fundamental needs like carrier diversity, access to high-quality data center space and predictable costs just to name a few. However, this does not mean that you should not give serious thought to the provider you choose.
Working with a reliable vendor who makes continuous investments in their infrastructure and offers a high level of reliability will certainly result in real benefits for your firm.

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