Data Center RFP Template

Giant data center provider CyrusOne recently distributed a suggested request for proposal / RFP template for data center selection that consisted of a superset of the RFP criteria listed below.
With acknowledgement of and respect for the work of CyrusOne, please find below an edited version that contains what AIS believes are the most relevant considerations for a data center RFP template.
You may also want to review a similar-but-simpler checklist that AIS posted earlier this month.

Corporate Profile

Please answer the following questions to give an overview of your company.

Overview

Please give a brief history of your company, the product and service offerings, and describe the core competencies. (Look for providers with a proven track record – for example, being in business at least 10 years and investing in their infrastructure.)

Client Examples

Please provide a few of your current clients to be used as examples. Specifically, describe some of your clients that are using similar products and services as the ones requested in this proposal. (Look for large customers since they tend to be very thorough with their procurement process, have high technical requirements, and expect excellent customer service. Providers should have testimonials on their websites, as well as be willing to quantify how many Fortune 1000 customers they are supporting. Transparency in this area will ensure you’re dealing with an experienced, well-regarded data center provider.)

HQ Location

Please provide the address of your corporate headquarters.

Data Center Locations

Please provide the locations of your other data centers. (Look for providers who are willing to provide detailed data center specifications to ensure you understand how they cool, power, secure, or connect their data centers.)

Management Team

Please provide the names, titles, and background of your top corporate executives. (Look for providers willing to share executive names and titles on their website so you can directly contact those people if the need arises. Examine executive’s backgrounds and ensure key personnel have over 15 years of experience in the data center space.)

Financials

Please provide a copy of your company’s latest audited financial statements (or arrange for a verbal discussion with the CFO if the company is private and does not disclose financials). (Review the provider’s financial statements to ensure they are healthy, have enough capital for future growth, and can borrow additional funds if needed. A weak financial position likely means they may be cutting back on people and resources right when your business needs them the most)

Alliances & Strategic Relationships

Please list and describe any alliances or strategic relationships you have with fellow technology companies. (Look for providers that have strong relationships with known vendors and service providers. You may not need them now, but if the need arises it is always good to know the partners the data center provider can bring in to help you.)

Relevant Awards and Recognition

Please list and describe any relevant awards your company has received in the last 2 years. (Look for providers that have been officially recognized in the industry. This proves they are thought-leaders and active in coming up with cost-saving strategies that benefit their customers)

Relevant Memberships and Certifications

Please list relevant Memberships, Certifications, and levels of Compliance. These could include the following:

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)
  • Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA 942 Tier 4)
  • Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements #16 (SSAE 16)
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • US/EU Safe Harbor (USDC)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Building/Property

Please provide answers to the following questions:

  • Where is the location of this data center?
  • What is the size of the building?
  • Who is the Data Center Manager? (Research this person and examine their experience; these are typically people with significant experience across several positions.)
  • Was the building purpose-built or retrofitted? When? (Ensure the building has the most recent technology needed to support your infrastructure.)
  • How long was the build or retrofit process before completion?
  • Do you have a process for rapid scalability and deployment?(If you need more space in a location, how long would it take for the provider to be able to offer that new space? Speed is key when you need more space or power based on your growing business demands.)
  • Are there additional or future construction plans?
  • What materials were used in the construction of the building?
  • What is the exterior wall construction/thickness?
  • What materials were used in the construction of the roof? What’s the age, wind uplift rating (lbs./sq.ft.), type of roof deck, etc.
  • What existing roof equipment & penetrations are in place? What lightning protection do you have?
  • What is the ceiling height in feet?

Data Center Space

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • How many square feet of raised floor do you have at this facility?
  • What is the height of the raised floor and what containment types are permitted?
  • How many square feet of ancillary space do you have at this facility?
  • What are the delivery procedures in place?
  • Where is the delivery area located?

Electrical Specifications

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the designed power density of this facility?
  • What are the max/min densities?
  • What is the aggregate power capacity?
  • Describe your utility source and diversity paths.
  • What type of fuel is used for the power used by this facility?
  • What is the holistic power description? Provide the design from cabinet to utility feed.
  • How many generators are available to this facility? What is their output capacity? What is their configuration? What is their maintenance schedule? (Are the generators exclusive to the customers in a specific area, or are they shared with others? Is it first come first serve during an outage, or is there enough generator capacity for everyone? What is the maintenance schedule? If there is an outage, it’s critical the generators are ready to handle the load.)
  • How many ATS switches does each leg of power have?
  • What is the fuel capacity of each generator in gallons? What is the fuel type? What is the runtime at maximum load?
  • What is the emergency fuel delivery program? How many contracted fuel providers do you have? (Ensure sufficient fuel deliveries are under contract to provide fuel in the case of an emergency.)
  • How many UPS systems do you have at this facility? What is the size in KW? What is the configuration? What is the output capacity and power factor? What is the maintenance schedule? What is the average run time? Do you oversubscribe at any component of the power architecture?
  • What type of grounding does this facility have?

Cooling Specifications

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the aggregate cooling output in tons?
  • What is the design PUE? What is the actual/operating PUE?
  • Is this facility water cooled or air cooled?
  • If water-cooled, what is this facility’s water source? How many feeds?
  • How many cooling distribution loops does this facility have? How far is it from the main system? What is the temperature in the pipe?
  • What types of cooling systems are in place? How many are in place? How big are they? How are they configured? How many feeds per unit?
  • Is the humidification in-unit or external?
  • What is the operating temperature? What humidity standards does this facility have?
  • What leak detection and monitoring systems are in place?
  • If air-cooled, describe the system? What is the back-up system?
  • How many cubic feet per minute (CFM) per kilowatt is the air velocity?
  • What percent of the year can you run without mechanical refrigeration?
  • What is your operating temperature? Are you following ASHRAE TC 9.9 recommendations?

Network Services

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • Is your facility carrier-neutral? (Ensure you can select your own carrier or several carriers. Most customers do not want to be locked into an agreement with a specific carrier that the data center provider mandates.)
  • What carriers are used at this facility?
  • Is it possible to connect to carriers that are not in the facility?
  • Is there interconnectivity between your facilities in different locations?
  • What private line networking options do you have? Are they provided by a third party? How are they supported?
  • What dark fiber providers do you work with?
  • What lit services provider do you work with?
  • What redundancy options do you have built into your backbone network? What failover options do you have in place?
  • What low latency options do you have available?
  • Where are the access points for telecom?

Data Center Systems & Personnel

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • What environmental and security monitoring systems are in place?
  • Will your company send notifications in the event of a system outage or service failure?
  • How will that notification process take place?
  • What triggers that notification?
  • What control centers are located in this facility? (If a problem arises, know how quickly the provider will be able to respond?)
  • What personnel are on site? (Are security and facility staff on site at all times?)
  • What is the response time for requests placed to personnel and vendors?
  • What is the scope of the remote hands for this facility?
  • What physical security is in place?
  • What escort procedures are in place on the raised floor?
  • Who is responsible for control to a customer’s cage?
  • What are the access control options for a customer’s cage?
  • What security systems are in place?
  • What fire detection/suppression systems are used?
  • What is the wall fire rating in hours?

Risks

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • Is this facility in a flood plain?
  • What is the history of water leakage and flood events in the facility?
  • What is this facility’s history of utility downtime?
  • What is the post-mortem process in place?
  • What severe natural disasters may occur in this region?
  • What is this facility’s proximity to major transportation paths? (e.g., rail way, flight path, highway, etc.)

Availability Review

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • How many square feet of raised floor is available at this facility?
  • What is the UPS power availability in KW at configuration?
  • What is the generator power availability in KW at configuration?
  • What is the cooling availability?
  • Please provide a sample SLA.
  • What is the rent structure?
  • What is the power pricing model?
  • What is the utility rate for this facility?
  • What flexibility options do you have for this contract?

Ancillary Services

Please provide the answers to the following questions:

  • What additional services are offered at this facility?
  • Are these service managed by your company or by a third party?
  • What service providers do you work with?
  • Does your company offer troubleshooting?
  • Does your company offer device support? (e.g., rack and stacking, hot part replacement, power cycling.)
  • Does your company offer tape handling?
  • Does your company offer rack, cabinet, and/or cage management?
  • What monitoring systems are in place for power reports?
  • Does your company have procedures in place for logistics? (e.g., shipping and receiving)

Pricing

Please send a detailed pricing proposal appropriately based on the solutions above.
(Ask what impact would there be on the pricing if an expansion of services is required during the term. Ask about any ‘hidden fees’ such as “fuel surcharges, charge-backs, connections, etc.” Ensure all pricing comparisons between data center providers are ‘apples to apples’. Often, a provider may share a low price upfront, but then add additional charges once the contract is nearly final.)

Terms

Please send your company’s standard contract and service level agreement. Include:

  • Sample agreement for review.
  • Impacts occurring at the conclusion of agreement.