Data Center Selection Criteria

The AIS team of experts has come up with some suggestions on what to look for when selecting a data center for colocation purposes. They touch upon Power Distribution, Connectivity, HVAC, Security, Amenities, and People.
Data Center Power Distribution 

  • Does the facility have mutually supporting and redundant power systems from which to provide power?
  • Can the provider power circuits at 208/120 VAC up to 100 amps, either as “single sourced” (a single circuit) or mutually supporting (“A+B”) configured circuits?
  • Can the provider offer fully redundant, mutually supporting circuits from mutually supporting UPS systems through mutually supporting automatic static transfer switched power distribution units (ASTS-PDU’s)? This is true “2N configuration”
  • Can you view a power diagram and all of the major components on the diagram?
  • Is the data center supported by redundant generators which feed all mission critical areas?
  • Is branch circuit monitoring available?

Data Center Connectivity

  • Does the provider have 7 or more gigabit or multi-gigabit connections to major Tier 1 Internet backbones?
  • Does the provider have direct peering connections to major content and subscriber networks?
  • Does the provider support native IPv6 transit and peering?
  • Does the provider operate its own optical network and is this network physically and operationally redundant?
  • Does the provider offer protected Layer 2/3 connectivity between geographically dispersed data centers?
  • Does the provider utilize and control their own BGP4 routing, and can you speak with their BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) engineers?
  • Does the provider permit clients to use BGP communities to control how routes are advertised to transit networks and for DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) mitigation?
  • Does the provider offer HSRP (Hot Standby Routing Protocol) and BGP redundancy for every client?
  • Does the provider offer Dual Ethernet connections to every client at no charge?
  • Does the provider offer design and implementation services for collocation clients?
  • Does the provider offer managed network and firewall services?
  • Does the provider offer load balancing and global load balancing service?
  • Is the provider capable of providing dark fiber connectivity solutions?
  • Does the provider offer off-site archiving solutions?

Data Center HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)

  • Does the provider have a raised access floor environment for proper air flow (at not less than 140 CFM per kW at .01” WC static pressure) and cooling of your equipment?
  • Is the data or colocation center configured as a “hot aisle / cold aisle” environment to ensure minimal integration of supply and return air (mixed air), thus providing the most efficient heat exchange possible?
  • Are all environmental control systems fully redundant?
  • Does the provider ensure a 3:1 ratio for redundancy on mechanical plant components (chillers, pumps, towers) and a 5:1 ratio of redundancy for floor-mounted heat exchangers (CRAH / CRAC units)?
  • Can the provider support 8 kW per rack at optimal environmental conditions; 12 kW per rack with containment?
  • Can the provider ensure that optimal environmental conditions for information technology hardware (per CBEMA and ITI) of 75 degree RA (+/- 3 degrees) and 47% RH (+/- 2%) is maintained at all points within the data or colocation center 24/7/365?

Data Center Security

  • Is the colocation facility accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
  • Does the provider combine photo identification cards with biometric scanners for two-factor authentication?
  • What’s the provider’s minimum staffing standard? Is there a standard?
  • Does the provider inventory all equipment and provide online access to this inventory list?
  • Does the provider offer granular access permissions that enable you to control resource access for your employees?
  • Does the provider offer a web portal to allow real-time changes to the access list?
  • Does the provider have security cameras through their facility?
  • Can the data center team provide transparent reporting of entrances and exits regarding your space or employees upon request?
  • Can your data center provider help with your audits? Are they willing (or able) to sit down with your auditors and work to enumerate and explain controls?

Data Center Facilities & Amenities

  • Does the facility provide a client work area with tools available in case something was forgotten?
  • Do they provide wired and wireless Internet access in all work areas?
  • Do they provide crash carts with flat screens, USB and PS2 keyboard and mouse, and KVM switches?

Data Center "Human Aspect" Checklist

  • Is the facility staffed (not just monitored) 24 hours a day?
  • Does the provider offer remote hands services 24/7/365?
  • Is the 24-hour staff capable and knowledgeable enough to provide application support and resolve complex technical issues?
  • How long are the average hold times for the support department?
  • What is the average response time for a client ticket? 5 minutes or less?
  • Can they provide reboots in an average of 15 minutes or less?
  • Can the support department provide hands-on support for replacing drives, racking equipment, OS re-installs, RAID rebuilds, etc., for a minor fee?
  • Can frontline technicians escalate problems to management and networking resources 24 hours a day without prior approval?
  • When needed, can you speak directly to senior network engineers to help solve issues or troubleshoot?
  • Will the company help set up and manage BGP for clients that have more than one primary IP service?
  • When needed, can you speak directly to the data center BGP engineers?

As you can see from the extensive list, there are many things to consider when selecting a data center / colocation services provider.
Please contact us if you have questions. Our team of experts has hands-on experience in all the areas mentioned above. Plus, we're committed to staying on top of industry trends so that we can make recommendations that will complement your IT strategy in support of your business and operations -- both today and in the future.