A robust, secure and well-maintained data center is the key to efficient business operations. However, rapidly evolving technologies require organizations to periodically reevaluate their data center environment. Aging infrastructure can create operational and security limitations.
This comprehensive guide is designed to provide easy access to a range of resources you can use to evaluate your operations and assess your options for improving your data center environment.
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Data centers are facilities that house the computing, networking and storage resources required for the delivery of applications and data. Core components typically include servers, storage hardware, routers, switches, cables, and firewalls. Supporting these systems requires an infrastructure that includes power systems, racks, cooling systems, fire suppression, backup generators and connections to external networks.
The industry follows the Uptime Institute’s four-tier classification system for evaluating data center infrastructure in terms of business requirements.
Tier 1 is the simplest infrastructure with few, if any, redundant and backup components. It has an expected uptime of 99.671% (28.8 hours of downtime annually).
Tier 2 offers some redundant components with an expected uptime of 99.741% (22 hours of downtime annually).
Tier 3 has multiple redundant components, including multiple paths for power and cooling systems. Components can be removed or replaced without disrupting services. It has an expected uptime of 99.982% (1.6 hours of downtime annually).
Tier 4 is the most advanced design, with the highest levels of fault tolerance and redundancy. It offers 99.995% uptime (26.3 minutes of downtime annually).
Always on, always available, and monitored 24/7 to maintain non-stop reliability. Customers can maximize efficiency and uptime and lower their overall operating costs.
In a colocation data center, companies rent space for servers and storage within a data center owned by a third-party. The colo provides power, cooling and physical security, as well as established connections to a variety of telecommunications and network service providers.
Colocation provides relief from escalating capacity pressures and operational overhead. It allows organizations to preserve capital with hosted services rather than retool or expand conventional on-premises infrastructure. It also provides the flexibility to scale resources up or down as needed.
Compare data center service centers with our free checklist to make the process easy.
RMM operates data centers in Milwaukee and Appleton, Wisconsin. Both are built to Tier 3 standards and have SOC 2 Type 2 certification, which demonstrates appropriate information security policies and procedures in place to protect customer data. In addition to providing geographic diversity and redundancy, these locations are in FEMA safe zones and are hardened to withstand natural disasters.
While pricing will always be a key consideration, several other factors can have a greater impact on your operations. Beyond cost, it is essential to evaluate a facility’s safety and security features, energy efficiency, connectivity options, and available services. This free checklist is a handy tool for making comparative evaluations.
Additionally, here are six key questions you should ask about any potential hosted data center:Is it in the right space?
Location, construction and design features are important considerations for mitigating the risk of downtime. Physically inspect potential sites to determine if they are well-built and capable of withstanding strong storms, floods or other weather events. The data center should meet Tier III standards for uptime and fault tolerance and should meet ADA accessibility requirements. Look for a conveniently located facility for quick emergency access, and evaluate whether it is in a safe, well-maintained neighborhood.Is it secure?
There should be no unsecured doors or windows that can be easily accessed from the outside. All entrances should be well-lit with surveillance cameras, alarms and industrial doors and locks. There should be perimeter security as well, including strong fencing and gates and possibly even concrete barriers. Other essential features include secure access and fire suppression systems with 24x7 monitoring.Is it reliable?
All electrical, mechanical and environmental systems must have built-in redundancy. The electrical system should be fully redundant with multiple distribution paths to IT equipment. Find out how many distribution units, backup systems, utility feeds and generators are in operation.Is it energy efficient?
Power is the single biggest cost to data center operations, and cooling systems are major power users. Look for a facility with hot/cold aisle containment and multi-stage cooling systems with high SEER ratings. Ask if the operators use “free cooling” techniques that take advantage of outside environmental conditions to increase energy efficiency.How’s the bandwidth?
The facility should have a cabling plant and interconnects that can handle growth. Specifically, it should have Layer 2 switched infrastructure that supports standard cross-connects, separate copper and fiber cable runs, and redundant cabling routes into the data center. Ideally, you should have access to a broad range of carriers and service providers with enterprise-class blended bandwidth from leading backbone providers.Is it properly staffed?
Many hosted data centers are not staffed 24x7. In so-called “dark sites,” staffers only keep regular office hours with no staff or perhaps only a skeleton crew on premises overnight. If you have 24x7 IT requirements look for a site with around-the-clock staff coverage.