10 questions to ask your data centre partner

According to Volta Data Centres, once you’ve made the decision to outsource your IT to a data centre partner, you need to be prepared to find out all the facts about potential suppliers. To simplify things, here are the 10 questions they believe any data centre partner must be able to answer to your full satisfaction before you make any commitment.

  1. Where is the data centre located? The importance of convenience of your IT systems can’t be undervalued. Ease of access and journey time means that should you need to, you can resolve or manage your IT without costly and frustrating delays. Don’t forget that systems should also be safely away from flood plains, should the unthinkable happen.
  2. Who else uses the data centre? While the information held by a data centre is of course confidential, a good understanding about the types of company housed in the same facility could be very useful. Some data centres specialise in vertical industries and knowing what like-minded companies think about the service they receive could be beneficial to your decision-making process.
  3. How scalable is the data centre’s capacity? Flexibility to match your needs to either upscale or potentially downscale is important. Whether a data centre partner can add power and rack space quickly or run high density and low density racks side by side might have a positive (or detrimental) effect on the success of your company.
  4. How well connected is the data centre? Connectivity is a data centre’s lifeline. Access to infrastructure, content, applications and services is the number one priority. If these connections are not solid, consistent performers with multiple layers of backup, you risk business downtime, latency and customer dissatisfaction. Carrier-neutral data centres offer more choice than those with only one carrier; make sure to ask your provider about their carriers.
  5. What power supply contingencies are there? Continuous service demands a robust power supply so take time to ensure you are confident in the resiliency, grid supply and backup solutions. Make sure your colocation provider is able to carry a high enough supply of power. Whilst many data centres are on a resilient power ring, only a few are on 2 resilient power rings being fed from 2 separate sub-stations.
  6. How is the environment controlled – what cooling systems are in place? With so much computing power, heat is a concern in any data centre. Most data centres use computer room air conditioning (CRAC), effective for a few kilowatts per rack but more modern facilities are able to handle cooling for IT equipment at a power density of 20kW per rack. Knowing a data centre has this capability can future proof your choice.
  7. How robust are the data centre’s security measures? Physical security is a pressing concern to IT teams and customers. A recent survey Volta Data Centres conducted with Red Brick Research among 1,000 UK office workers revealed that 71% believe it is important or very important that data is securely stored in a data centre manned 24/7/365. Are there security guards onsite at all times? Can rack security be doubled with cages added around them?
  8. What level of customer service can I expect? A trusted partnership is paramount. Your data centre should be your partner, not your provider, because a vested interest in your IT is a vested interest in your success.
  9. How is pricing calculated and how predictable are the costs? It’s not hard to make IT costs predictable and transparent because usage and needs are easily measurable. Make sure you are confident that your data centre partner is as savvy about your IT needs as you are, to ensure you get the best (and accurate) pricing.
  10. How futureproof is the data centre? It’s as important that your data centre partner grows with your business because with growth comes investment and innovation. When you choose a partner, you want to find a long term relationship, not someone who potentially will leave you and your IT stranded five years from now.

Not all data centres are equal so understanding where and how your IT systems, software and services will be housed is crucial. Ask your data centre partner everything you need to know before you commit.