Top 10 Things to Consider When Selecting a Data Center 

Top 10 Things to Consider When Selecting a Data Center 


Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing the Right Location for Your Data

Dave Kluger – Storcom CTO


Many IT professionals are often tasked with finding secure facilities to store their data and often ask the question “how do I select a data center for my business?” This list of the top 10 things to consider when selecting a data center will guide you through the process of choosing a data center to fit your specific business needs. 

Just like different types of technologies, the capabilities and functionalities of a data center can vary drastically. Data centers can offer collocation, a secondary data storage location for disaster recovery purposes, data center managed services, and much more. In fact, data centers offer so many options that businesses can easily find the one that meets their needs. However, you need to understand what your critical business needs are and what you want to accomplish before you can sign up for data center services to host your data. 


1. Do You Understand the Value of Your Data?

Data is the world’s most valuable commodity. Understanding the value of your data is the first step in trying to decide where to select a data center. A ton rides on your business’ ability to provide the proper security, storage, and handling of your data. It’s paramount that your company finds the right place to house it all. Regardless of your business size, whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, proper data management is the key to making data centers a valuable asset to any organization. Creating a data management strategy is crucial to ensuring the success of your data storage needs in a data center environment. 


2. Where is the Data Center Located?

Location is one of the most important factors when selecting your data center. Although you could save money with a center that’s further away, you tend to lose the benefits of having it nearby. The distance between your business and the data center you choose will impact Internet speed. I will discuss this a little more in-depth in a second.

Trying to find a reliable collocation service provider near your company with minimal chances of incurring a natural disaster is a great step. If your business is in an area that is prone to natural disasters, then it is important to find a data center that’s on a separate power grid to mitigate risk. In the event that your company’s office loses power, then having a data center is on another power grid eliminates losing access to your data in two places. 

Finally, you want to ensure the data center is easily accessible to your IT staff. Your staff will most likely need to perform routine maintenance or hardware upgrades, so make sure that the data center is within a reasonable distance to factor in travel time.


3. Does the Data Center Use Copper or Fiber Cabling?

You should always ask the data center provider which types of cables they have. Understanding a little bit about how cables transmit data is important to explain why this is an important question to ask. There are two types of cables: copper and fiber (or fiber-optic). Each has their own benefits and disadvantages. Copper cabling can be slow, unstable, leak signal, and battles with interference issues, all of which make it a risky proposition going forward. Here are some considerations about copper cabling and its limitations:

  1. Since it is a metal, copper can corrode. 
  2. Copper is limited in the distance it can travel
  3. Copper is noisy and leaks data
  4. Cost: copper is expensive
  5. Copper is ecologically untenable


4. How Reliable is the Data Center?

Having a backup source of power is essential to a suitable data center. Take a look at what redundant systems the data center offers in case of emergencies and inclement weather. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure there’s proper ventilation and cooling within their infrastructure.

A colocation provider is bound by an SLA agreement (Service Level Agreement), which guarantees maximum network uptime, power service and temperature stability. Most data centers provide SLAs as part of their contract, and you need to evaluate those carefully before making a decision. Reliability is measured in terms of uptime of a data center, and a reliable data center should have 99.995% uptime.

A stunning statistic is 93% of companies that lost their data center for ten days or more because of a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year. Be sure to select a data center with a reliability percentage and uptime over 99% to avoid becoming one of those statistics.


5. Is the Data Center Secure?

A strong and solid security system is paramount when selecting a data center. Since data centers house your business’ critical data and applications, a security breach would be a disaster for your organization. It has been said that the average cost of a cyberattack on a data center is around $4 million.

Data center providers should use software and technology to protect your assets, but they should also have strong physical security as well. Your data center should have proper physical locks, surveillance, and security guards patrolling the building. You should also verify that the data center’s security features and objectives do not hinder the scalability of your services.


6. What are the Networking Capabilities of the Data Center?

All data centers have limits to their capabilities without upgrading infrastructure. You need to be aware that capabilities like the network’s reliability, speed, and its security can indicate the strength of the network that was built.

If you are choosing a data center that supports fiber, then you should be sure the data center has space and power to meet your growth needs in the future. Start by identifying how much you may need as your organization grows. This way you can plan for obtaining more bandwidth from the onset.

You can also give yourself control over the total capacity of your data center by investing in server colocation. This means using a shared data center facility. You can rent space in a data center and the power, cooling, and security are maintained by the data center provider. 24/7/365 staffing and increased security features are also included with colocation.


7. Is the Data Center Flexible and Scalable? 

Your business has constantly-changing requirements as you work between many different projects. It’s imperative to choose a data center that can withstand your increasing demands. Modern technology and its constant advancements lead to increased flexibility and scalability.

While selecting a data center provider, you should look at whether the company has a strong history and experience. Your data center should be able to support you for at least the next 5 years. Also, try to learn if the provider offers flexible hosting plans. You should be able to scale up or down based on your business’ goals.


8. Does the Data Center have Emergency Backup Capabilities?

Every data center worth its salt has identified single points of failure and found ways to mitigate these risks for their clients. Natural disasters, cyberattacks, and power outages are potential problems for data center facilities that need to take into account. 

A medium or large data center will typically use a centralized, incorruptible power system to provide backup power in the event of an emergency. These systems should automatically turn on when the primary power source goes out. Backup generators should also be located on-site to prepare for any disaster. 

It is also important to be sure the center has a proper fire suppression system. Eliminating risks of a fire and damage to your data is critical. The same can be said to have a backup heating and cooling system. As we all know, data centers are producers of extreme heat, so keeping the infrastructure cool is critical. 


9. Have You Done Your Homework on Selecting a Data Center?

Like you would with any major purchase, do your research to find out what you can about each data center that you are considering. Asking other IT executives you trust where they house their data can be one way to achieve this information. You can also read testimonials and reviews online from the data center’s other clients. Ask the data center provider some of the questions listed above, and be diligent in getting as much information as possible.


10. Does the Data Center Truly Fit Your Needs?

In the end, choose a data center that fits your needs. Selecting a data center to meet your needs is an important business decision, both financially and from a business standpoint. Try to align your business goals and objectives as closely as you can with what the data center provides. If you are looking for a place to house a secondary backup copy of your data for disaster recovery and business continuity purposes, then be sure to focus more closely on the data center provider’s emergency capabilities. If you’re looking for a data center that you can grow into providing managed services as your business expands, then make sure the data center has the infrastructure to meet your future demands. 

As highlighted above, choosing the wrong data center could lead to many issues down the road. These issues include poor Internet service, limited scalability and growth potential, and an increased risk of cyberattacks and ransomware. Hopefully this blog post has given you some information to make a sound decision that helps to grow your business! I hope you enjoyed this list of the top 10 things to consider when selecting a data center.

Storcom has multiple tier 3 data centers in Chicago and Grand Rapids, Michigan and we offer many data center solutions to fit your individual business needs. If you are interested in learning more, then please give us a call! 

Until next time…

Dave Kluger