There are hundreds of datacenters scattered across the U.S. and thousands more worldwide. When you are seeking a host for your company's critical data and applications, there are many important factors to consider.
1. Location: It is not necessary for a datacenter to be physically located near your place of business, but is essential that the datacenter's location be safe and secure. Natural threats like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and so on can be researched through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Other threats to the physical security of a datacenter include man-made hazards such as airplane crashes, chemical spills and terrorist attacks. The U. S. Department of Transportation can help you analyze such threats.
2. Reliable Electrical Power: The datacenter should have redundant main power lines running into the facility. The local public-utility company can provide information about the frequency of power outages and the capacity of the local power grid. In any case, a datacenter should also have redundant emergency power generators.
3. Internet Connectivity: Many datacenters will have redundant connections to several major backbone networks. The speed of these mainline connections should be sufficient to support all of the datacenter's customers, including your company.
4. Physical Security: Security measures may include armed guards at entrances to the facility, biometric systems and surveillance cameras both inside and outside of the facility. Within the computer room(s), servers may be protected by locked cages, automatic fire extinguishers and more cameras that monitor the room 24/7.
5. Financial Stability: Obviously, you don't want the datacenter to close down with your company's data inside. Adequate finances also enable a datacenter to keep up with capacity demands and offer the latest, most reliable technology. Verify the financial stability of a vendor before moving your data into a datacenter.
6. Cost-Saving Technologies: By examining the technologies that a datacenter uses, your company can infer what the vendor charges customers and whether its rates are competitive. Datacenters that employ blade servers and virtualization have an advantage in terms of space and usage efficiencies. That edge translates into lower prices and better service.
7. Cooling System: Be sure to investigate what sort of cooling system the datacenter uses; what backup system it uses in case of failures; and the range of operating temperatures considered tolerable in the datacenter, the racks and the individual units.
8. SLA (Service-Level Agreement): Make sure that your company receives an SLA, a contract that spells out the relationship between the datacenter vendor and the customer. An SLA specifies what the vendor promises, how it will deliver on those promises, which party will measure delivery and how, and what will happen if the vendor does not live up to its promises.
A typical SLA will specify the hours during which the datacenter service will be available, the percentage of downtime that is acceptable, how fast the vendor will respond to requests for changes to the service, the response time of the service and so on. External response time is typically measured by a third-party service, while internal response time is reported by the vendor itself.
The usual penalties for failure to meet SLA standards are reductions in service fees. However, the SLA should also specify conditions under which the customer can terminate the contract for services without penalty.
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