This is the final post in a four-part series that explores crucial elements to consider before choosing a colocation provider. This post focuses on what support services full-service colocation providers should provide for their clients.
Providers that simply give you space an an electrical hook-up may seem, at first glance, to provide a lower cost structure, but they will require you to staff up or pay for services that full-service colocation service providers include in their offering. Make sure you examine the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of each of your alternatives. In a full-service colocation services environment, the provider should address security, provider power and cooling, perform facility management and be able to deliver these services with a Service-Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA imposes financial penalties on the provider if they fail to meet agreed upon service metrics.
On-site support that is available 24/7 provides quick response for emergency re-boots or other issues when your staff is not in the center and can help prevent minor incidents from escalating into larger issues. the availability of such services help you meet your response time requirements while effectively managing your IT budget.
Many, if not most, companies find it takes time to stand up their environment and migrate applications. Providers with modular growth plans give you the flexibility you need to grow your environment as you migrate. Look for a contract that gives you the option to fill space over a period of time. This can reduce costs and allow you to adapt to changing business conditions so you can increase or decrease the speed at which you can deploy into the center.
Providers that offer services to help you move in and can assist with hardware racking and stacking or cabling can help make your deployment go smoothly and reduce migration time. Structured cabling programs provide installations that meet standards for design and testing, ensure better performance of your infrastructure and enable future changes to be made quickly.
If you are a mid-sized or large company, you know that “one size fits all” does not apply to your IT needs. Find a provider that understands the complex relationships of your specific business processes, IT governance model, application stack and security needs. Your provider should operate in a way that is consistent with your internal controls, the processes you utilize for change management and how you respond to incidents. How closely these processes are aligned can make a big difference in how well a provider will meet your colocation needs on a day-to-day basis.
The experience of the on-site data center staff will have a significant impact on the level of support you recieve when you need it. Data center management is a complex task that requires specialized skills across a wide number of domains such as security, power distribution, networking and hardware and software management. Make sure you provider has the skilled staff for all the key data center capabilities, and they do not simply manage vendors that come in to service the data center systems. Engineers and technicians who are highly trained and certified with extensive experience in data center management will provide you with dependable service that improves your uptime. Make sure your provider has standard, documented processes and practices in place for all of their activities like maintenance and change management. Such standardization drives better performance and uptime.
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Colocation providers with portals that supports trouble ticketing and reporting can help you better manager your environment. Remote management increases you IT staff’s efficiency and enables you to be proactive and resolve incidents before they affect the performance and availability of your applications.
Setting up a new environment is a complex undertaking, and missteps can reverberate for years. Providers that have the expertise to assist you in the design of your new environment and can customize an installation based on your needs ease the installation process and simplify future maintenance. Details matter: Having a cooling expert involved in the initial design can greatly improve cooling efficiency by using optimal rack design and other techniques. A provider can help you reduce power consumption by suggesting ways to move to configuration driven by green IT principles such as improving server density during the design phase of your environment.
Given that your staff may be spending significant time at the data center, look for colocation providers that offer workspace, lounges and conference rooms where they can connect laptops or take a conference call. These amenities provide a comfortable working environment and help keep your staff productive.
As described in each of the seven considerations, there are significant differences in colocation service providers — from staffing to connectivity to geography. With the availability and performance of your business applications riding on the selection of a provider, make sure you select one that can help you meet your goal of 100 percent uptime. Selecting a data center provider is a commitment, and the cost of business disruption that comes from moving installations makes the right selection critical.
Over the past few weeks, this series also covered the following topics:
- Does Your Colocation Provider Have the Methods to Ensure Maximum Uptime?
- Data Center Proximity: How Close is my Colocation Provider’s Facility?
- How Does my Colocation Provider Ensure Physical and Virtual Security?
You can download the full report here, courtesy of Cyxtera, “Seven Important Considerations When Choosing a Colocation Provider.”