Story image

7 questions to ask before you sign with colocation provider

22 May 2018

Without data centers, there’s no digital. Without digital, there’s no achieving business and operational goals.

Given the potential impact on your organization, you must look beyond the basic variables of price or footprint when choosing a colocation provider. Instead, develop a strong understanding of the current state of the provider’s business and operations.

In a previous post, we looked at colocation market conditions which help give context to changing models. Here, we recommend these top eight questions to ask any colocation provider to make sure your needs will be met and avoid any surprises after SLAs have been signed.

1. What’s the level of transparency?

Transparency leads to a stronger partnership, with the provider and customer working more effectively towards mutual goals.

Find a provider who is open and transparent and has documentation about its own operations.

For example, is a formal change management process in place? Is there an incident response team? Are mock emergency drills conducted? How often and what maintenance is performed on critical infrastructure?

Are maintenance reports available upon request? If the answer to these questions is no, or the provider isn’t able or willing to share the information, consider the red flag raised.

2. What are the built-in control measures to monitor power utilization and capacity management for my IT infrastructure?

Over-subscribing existing power and cooling resources (based on actual usage) can be a dangerous strategy and is often an unknown threat until something happens.

This puts your IT infrastructure at risk, so colocation providers should have built-in control measures around managing and reporting power, cooling and even space capacity.

Also ask about capacity management. Whether it be utility transformer, generator plant, fuel supply, or cooling plants, understanding how and what program the provider has to manage capacity is critical.

3. Which networks are available to meet my traffic flow requirements?

Work closely with your network team to gather a clear understanding of network requirements and your IT team to understand your organization’s cloud strategy.

Once these are understood you can reference resources like PeeringDB to see which networks are available and built into data center locations.

PeeringDB will also identify any peering exchanges available at the site that can be used to meet network traffic flow requirements and will identify which sites have direct connectivity into large public cloud environments.

4. How do I monitor and measure performance?

Often an afterthought, a well-designed customer portal dashboard can provide an aggregated service view, performance monitoring, measurement and capacity statistics that track or monitor the work being done.

As such, request a demo of the portal to understand the assets, statistics and operational information they will have access to on an ongoing basis.

5. Will my corporate sustainability goals be supported?

The data center is one of the largest contributors to overall power consumption for many corporations.

The power mix available to your data center provider will enable your organization to achieve corporate sustainability goals.

6. What are the non-technology related amenities?

Your IT staff could spend considerable time at the colocation site or possibly require a permanent presence.

Yet, it’s easy to overlook the importance of access to office space, secure storage locations, staging and burn-in areas as well as the proximity of lodging and restaurants.

Ensuring an adequate work environment will improve the efficiency of a site for your organization.

7. What’s the customer support framework?

If a data center sales organization appears slow to respond and hard to work with, you can be assured that the experience is not likely to get better once you are a customer.

A mature organization that has developed a culture of customer support will be apparent in all your interactions.

Taking it a step further, ask for customer references or discuss with your industry peers to get a true sense of the level of customer support you’ll receive as a customer.

Article by Joe Reele, Vice President, Datacenter Solution Architects, Schneider Electric, and Casey Vanderbeek, director of client technical solutions, Infomart Data Centers, Schneider Electric blog network. 

Opinion: How SD-WAN changes the game for 5G networks
5G/SD-WAN mobile edge computing and network slicing will enable and drive innovative NFV services, according to Kelly Ahuja, CEO, Versa Networks
TYAN unveils new inference-optimised GPU platforms with NVIDIA T4 accelerators
“TYAN servers with NVIDIA T4 GPUs are designed to excel at all accelerated workloads, including machine learning, deep learning, and virtual desktops.”
AMD delivers data center grunt for Google's new game streaming platform
'By combining our gaming DNA and data center technology leadership with a long-standing commitment to open platforms, AMD provides unique technologies and expertise to enable world-class cloud gaming experiences."
Inspur announces AI edge computing server with NVIDIA GPUs
“The dynamic nature and rapid expansion of AI workloads require an adaptive and optimised set of hardware, software and services for developers to utilise as they build their own solutions."
Norwegian aluminium manufacturer hit hard by LockerGoga ransomware attack
“IT systems in most business areas are impacted and Hydro is switching to manual operations as far as possible.”
HPE launches 'right mix' hybrid cloud assessment tool
HPE has launched an ‘industry-first assessment software’ to help businesses work out the right mix of hybrid cloud for their needs.
ADLINK and Charles announce multi-access pole-mounted edge AI solution
The new solution is a compact low profile pole or wall mountable unit based on an integration of ADLINK’s latest AI Edge Server MECS-7210 and Charles’ SC102 Micro Edge Enclosure. 
How Dell EMC and NVIDIA aim to simplify the AI data centre
Businesses are realising they need AI at scale, and so enterprise IT teams are increasingly inserting themselves into their company’s AI agenda.