In Part 1 of this article, I talked about your organization's need for high computer system reliability, also known as data center uptime. I talked about the emerging standard of of 99.995% uptime, which translates to 28 minutes of downtime per year or less. I discussed the option of building your own data center, including the benefits of better control, and the downsides of high costs and complexity.
Your other option is to use outsource data center facilities to house your enterprise data center. Outsource data center facilities come in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few of the most common:
Managed services providers - Large providers such as IBM, HP, and Sungard offer data center space along with managed services such as IT support, network, server and storage hardware. These providers are well suited to replace some or all of your IT staff, along with the burden of maintaining hardware and a data center. Profitability for these providers is often based on managed services, so these managed services providers will be keenly interested in providing their IT services to your organization.
Telecommunications providers - Telecommunications providers like AT&T, and TW Telecom started the colocation business. They sold extra space in their central offices to companies that needed more reliable power. Costs vary for these facilities, and the "rule book" tends to be fairly restrictive. There are often limits on power, space per rack, and access to other telecommunications providers. Some have ventured into the managed services business to generate additional revenues.
Wholesale colocation facilities - The simplest offering, wholesale colocation offers hardened data centers, redundant power and cooling, along with physical security, and fire suppression. I call wholesale data centers "high-tech landlords" because they offer real estate-like services to your organization. Wholesale colocation offers expertise in power and cooling. These are areas of expertise that most IT organizations lack. You have the flexibility to choose who does the IT services, whether it your own staff or a third party provider. Wholesale data centers also offer flexibility for growth and change inside the data center. A select few of the best providers are carrier neutral data centers with a dozen carriers or more that charge no monthly cross-connect fees. Watch for hidden costs on power utilization. You should be able to pay incrementally as you grow your power utilization and rack space.
Regardless of the type of outsource data center you select, make sure you ask questions about:
- Power and cooling systems: Do they have two of everything? You'll be surprised at how many lack basic data center redundancy and reliability.
- SAS 70 data center certification: Is data center compliance is affecting your vendors and clients? You can "buy" a level of compliance in an outsource data center.
- Colocation power costs: What are you paying per kilowatt hour of utilization? Are their limits on power per rack? Are there hidden charges for more power? Your data center power costs can double based on the geographic location you select.
Do wholesale colocation facilities sound like they might fit your needs? For affordable colocation, call me at Lifeline Data Centers, 317.423.2591.