Choose the right external datacenter in 8 easy steps

The decision has been made, the IT environment is to be housed in an external datacenter. But which one? There are many different datacenters in the Netherlands, which one will best fit your organization? With this list in hand, you will know which requirements need to be met by your new datacenter.

1. Availability

The Uptime Institute has compartmentalized the availability of datacenters in different tiers. It is important to determine what level of availability your organization needs. A hospital will want an uptime of 99,999 percent. When a malfunction within the IT system is not directly life-threatening, or a backup location is available, then you might choose a lower level of availability. Clients with business-critical and sensitive data will most often choose a TIER 3 datacenter.

2. Energy

Availability is determined by how datacenter equipment has been setup and fitted. For example the amount of power feeds available per rack. N stands for a single power feed, a single UPS, a single diesel generator and transformer. N+1 means there is a double power feed available, a double UPS, but a single diesel generator and transformer. With 2N all of these resources have been installed redundantly. It’s also good to know how many hours of diesel fuel is in storage for the emergency generator, and what agreements have been made for the diesel supply after that time has passed.

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3. Climate control

An IT environment benefits from a constant temperature for the best performance and longest hardware lifespan. By using cool corridors datacenters lose less cooling capacity, which promotes efficiency. ASHRAE, the international organization that concerns itself with heat, ventilation, air-conditioning and cooling (HVAC), says that the temperature within a datacenter needs to be between 18 and 27 degrees Celsius in order for the equipment to perform optimally. A specific cooling method is to use water that vaporizes.

This increases the humidity and extracts evaporation energy from the air which causes temperatures to drop. This is called adiabatic cooling. In addition, the humid, cooled air can be used to cool a second, separate air flow: indirect adiabatic cooling. This is a particularly energy efficient way to preserve the datacenter climate.

4. Security

There are several norms in the area of information security that datacenters can adhere to. A few examples are ISO 27001 (information security), NEN 7510 (information security in healthcare), and PCI DSS (financial transaction security). Find out which certifications are offered by your external datacenter of choice. Not just data security is of importance in a datacenter, at least as important is the physical security of the building. Find an external datacenter that offers physical security 24/7, year round, and that uses a first-rate camera network that has eyes on every corner of the datacenter. Unauthorized people should not be able to simply walk in, so a biometric identification system for client-specific rooms is essential.

5. Connections

A datacenter without connectivity is as a lighthouse with no light. Determine with level of connectivity your organization needs, and find a carrier- and cloud neutral datacenter that offers a wide variety of options when it comes to networks, dark fiber, and cloud providers that are present in the building. Why carrier neutral? Connectivity is a prerequisite for your business. There are datacenters that offer complete packages, but this is not always better. If the network appears not to be up to par, you can easily switch to another provider within a carrier neutral datacenter, without having to migrate. If your favorite or required provider is not present, the datacenter provider can help facilitate so that this provider can still provide their services to your IT platforms. In addition, it’s advisable to check how redundancy of the connections to the external datacenter has been organized.

6. Sustainability

In the area if sustainability, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is an important value. This number indicates how efficient an external datacenter handles its energy. The closer this value is to 1, the better for the environment and for your wallet. Depending on what place sustainability holds on your priority list, you can look for an external datacenter that uses wind energy and is 100 percent CO2-neutral. Also check if chemicals are being used for cooling purposes. The area of sustainability offers a couple different certifications, such as ISO 14001 (environmental management). With this certification a datacenter shows that it takes responsibility for people and the environment and conforms to laws and regulations.

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7. Facilities

Outside of hard requirements, there are of course also small issues that influence the choice of an external datacenter. Imagine for example the presence of WiFi, flexible workplaces, a convenient location and enough (secured) parking space. Or how about a loading bay or storage units? Perhaps it is important to you to know that the data floors in the datacenter are above sea-level, and you want to be able to access the datacenter at any time. A datacenter’s image can also influence your decision.

8. Additional services

Other aspects you can take into consideration are the additional services offered by an external datacenter. A conventional datacenter offers mainly rooms and rackspace. But there are datacenters that go the extra mile for their clients and offer additional services such as digital rack management which means you do not have to visit the location to conduct rack management. Some datacenters also offer handy tools to purchase, monitor and manage cloud services.

Make a list of your needs and wants, and look for the different datacenters that comply with them. Then ask for references and visit the different facilities. This will lead to the right choice of datacenter for your business.

If you would you like to know more about how The Datacenter Group has equipped its datacenters, you can download the factsheets here. But you are also always welcome for a non-commital tour. We would be happy to show you our datacenters.


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