09-17-10 | Blog Post
When you’re choosing a place to colocate your servers, obvious factors like geographic location, redundancy level, and pricing are primary drivers. But don’t forget to ask about the services and features that can make the day-to-day reality of colocating your servers more effective and secure. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference.
1) What documented processes are in place at the data center that you and your own staff will need to know and follow? Is there any proof that the processes are followed by every person there?
Higher level data centers will have their processes well documented and audited by a 3rd party to confirm that they are followed by each staff member. The SAS 70 audit ensures this level of compliance, soon to be replaced by the SSAE 16 audit. This level of commitment to quality affects every aspect of data center function, from initial requirements gathering, to initial installation, and ongoing maintenance. It provides you a level of assurance that consistent protocols are in place and followed that have been carefully thought through at the highest level of the organization for the benefit of all clients and staff. Expect to be asked to do your part to maintain these processes such as being asked to update the list of authorized data center users regularly and follow all security protocols in place.
2) What type of remote access or backup hands-and-eyes service options are available?
If your primary technical resources are located an hour or more from your data center, it helps to have remote access options like remote power strip reboot or remote KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) options to save valuable drive time in the event of an emergency. Partnering with a data center provider who can offer hands-and-eyes help in the form of a real human is invaluable when remote options can reset the isssue and experienced troubleshooting necessary.
3) Does your colocation provider provide remote rack-and-stack services?
For the initial move to a colocation provider, or for the addition of new equipment over time, it can save resources if your data center provider offers a rack-and-stack option. This allows you to ship your equipment directly to the data center for installation. Besides saving the time and energy to have someone from your company drive to the data center personally, the data center staff have a better chance of cross-connecting high-availability systems properly to their power and networks and ensuring that all components are properly labeled and tied off nearly to make future maintenance easier.
4) If your IT resources change, does your data center provider offer monitoring or management services?
Whether from economic, health, or other factors, do you have alternative resources to monitor and manage your equipment should your primary IT resources become unavailable? Many data center partner afford remote monitoring services that let you fine-tune the level and sending of alerts. Some will also manage upgrades, repairs, maintenance, and new equipment installation. Your most valuable assets are the people who support your IT, so make sure that there is a backup plan in place for the human resources are well.
5) What type of backup options or IT disaster recovery are available?
Even though you may have implemented your own backup plan on your servers, it pays to know what options your data center provider may offer. An electronic, off-site backup alternative, that is audited to confirm successful completion and re-run in the event of an interruption or other failure can offer a whole new level of security in case something goes wrong. Leverage the infrastructure already in place between data center providers with multiple data centers for the best value. Some data centers offer physical space where temporary offices can be set up in the event that a primary work location becomes unavailable,
6) How is your bandwidth usage tracked, invoiced, and adjusted?
Many don’t think about the logistics of bandwidth tracking until facing an unexpected overage bill. Bandwidth tracking and billing systems can be notoriously inaccurate and unhelpful. It’s worth asking how you can monitor the usage of your equipment and what processes are in place to notify you before you incur a hefty charge for months on end that might have been prevented with a different data usage plan.