A real-time remote back up of your business data provides a key to your business continuity, your ability to continue business operations during any natural or man-made hazard. Without offsite data duplication, you risk losing your business data to fire, flood, tornado and more.
The location of the data center or co-location center your business uses can enhance the safety it provides you. While data centers use redundant systems to ensure their own up time, the same natural hazards that could affect your business, also threaten them. For this reason, you find many large data centers in out-of-the-way places like Idaho and Iceland. Also most data centers will be found in areas with Industrial warehouse space for rent.
The Fewer Hazards the Better
Data centers favor locations experiencing the least number of natural hazards, such as tornados and hurricanes. Boise, Idaho has become a popular location for data centers because it comes second among US for experiencing the least natural hazards. As far as weather and geologic activity, Boise is pretty dull. It's pretty perfect for data safety though. Its climate helps, too.
Data Loves the Cold
Not the Star Trek character, but your data. Also, the computers storing the data love the cold. Prioritize data or co-location centers located in cold climates.
The cryptocurrency boom has created a growing need for data centers in places with cheap electricity. Cryptocurrency mining requires speedy computers and a significant amount of electricity.
Iceland's cold climate and reliance on hydro power have netted it so many new data centers in the past three years that the country is now in danger of not being able to meet its electricity needs.
Carrier Neutral Environments
In the old days, you needed a data center located near your office. By near, we mean 100 miles or so. Now, however, high-speed data has become so commonplace that most businesses save to the cloud and use remote backups. This elevated the importance of telecommunications services available to the data center. Choose a carrier neutral center in an area with a number of carrier choices. A co-location center, especially, should offer connectivity from a variety of network vendors. This redundancy increases data transmission speeds and provides transmission backup.
Look for Lemmings
If you consider a data center located in an area with many other data centers, you discovered a strong location for data centers. Think of data centers like lemmings. They follow each other to good locations. A cluster of data centers in one area signals strong telecommunications options, reliable utilities and good geography.
High Security Design
Of course, computer security remains of utmost importance at a data center, but so does physical security. Look for security measures that limit access to the building and its contents, including:
buffer zones surrounding the facility,
limited access due to barriers and gates,
booby traps and fingerprint scanners,
redundant electricity, water, cooling and telecommunications,
private cages for the servers.
Additionally, you need to ensure it meets any applicable industry standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Beyond its location, the data center your business chooses needs to offer other amenities. Look for the following criteria:
- 99.999 to 100 percent uptime,
- the company's deployment efficiency,
- the data center's financial stability,
- the center's scalability,
- related managed services.
The ideal data center can grow with your business.
Putting Together Your Request for Proposals
Once you identify a preferred location, issue a request for proposal (RFP) to six to eight data centers. Specify proposal requirements and format so you can compare apples to apples. Your RFP should request information on a center's:
- service level agreements,
- master service agreements,
- cost models,
- physical security features,
- managed services options,
- pricing model.
Part of your RFP process should include a site visit with a full tour of the facility. Time it to occur after the companies submit their proposals and you've completed the proposal review. Develop interview questions from the RFP data. Ask every data center operator the same questions. Although the information provided by one center may be the catalyst for the question, all centers need to respond so you can compare information side-by-side.
Your choice of data center or co-location center becomes one of the most important choices your business makes. It provides a cornerstone of its business continuity. The resilience of the data center becomes the resilience of your business. Choose a data center in a low-hazard area with a variety of telecommunications providers and stellar security. The ideal center grows with you and offers additional services at reasonable prices. While finding the right data center takes time and effort, its benefit to your business makes it worth the wait.