- Are you currently looking to expand your IT infrastructure beyond your company’s walls?
- Are you considering the benefits of co-locating at a nearby data center?
- Are you already well down the path of data center evaluation, but puzzled because their offerings sound way too similar?
Many of the companies we’ve been working with started off with one of the challenges mentioned above, but had a tough time discerning what the next steps should be.
This isn’t surprising because even though all data centers look the same (raised floor, generators, racks in cages with blinking lights), there is a bunch going on behind the scenes that really needs “paying attention to,” if a company is to establish a perfect IT infrastructure fit that will help them accomplish their business an operational goals.
At ANTARA, we strive to add clarity to the process of data center evaluation through our IT Infrastructure Sourcing Services (IISS) practice. At the most basic level, there are 3-stages involved:
- Data Center Criteria Development
- Data Center Evaluation
It has been our experience that criteria development often gets glossed over as the company jumps directly into the activities surrounding the evaluation of data centers, only to realize that from a cursory glance, the facilities all appear to be the same. That causes a major delay in getting to Stage 3 (Selection).
What we end up doing is a reset – back to square (stage) one, where we sit down and talk the client through what they really need to accomplish their business and operational objectives. Knowing how much space, power and level of redundancy needed is the first step. Our role, as trusted advisor, is to listen to what the client is trying to accomplish and translate those activities into the resource requirements, which establishes the base.
Then we hone in on five core areas that every data center evaluation should cover:
- Data Center Architecture
- Facility Operations
- Maintenance Practices
- Sustainability (Green Initiatives)
Data Center Architecture is the foundation of any review. We establish the Tier rating of the facility following industry standards (Uptime, TIA, and BICSI/ANSI 002). By reviewing the 1-Line electrical & mechanical drawings, we can identify single points of failure. In the ideal scenario, we can help you determine if the facility meets your base requirements right at this point without wasting a lot of evaluation time or resources]. Also on the check list is fault tolerance which is the ability to continue non-stop when a hardware failure occurs. Hand-in-hand with that is concurrent maintainability – which means a data center has the designed-in ability to perform planned and unplanned emergency maintenance without disrupting the computer hardware operation. This one is huge. Other things on the architecture checklist that should be reviewed and compared across the various data centers being evaluated, include: Generators, Uninterruptible Power Supply or Source (UPS), Batteries, Fuel, Cooling and other supporting systems.
Facility Operations – its people and procedures – are really important factors for consideration. The staff should have the appropriate certifications and experience. The processes and procedures should coincide with industry standards. For example, Computer Maintenance Management Systems and Data Center Infrastructure and Management Systems are areas we closely examine.
Maintenance Practices are a key consideration, even for a new facility. The things we look at include how often maintenance occurs and if the work is actually being done, if Change Management procedures and Method of Procedure documentation is in place, and are they structured in such a way to prevent or minimize outages during the maintenance process.
Sustainability (Green Initiatives) is a hot topic these days, especially since data centers tend to consume lots of energy with its associated costs being more than staffing. Something ANTARA checks is the data center’s power usage effectiveness (PUE), a measure of how efficiently a computer data center uses energy. A company should have a good sense of what their cost of energy will be.
We help you determine the cost of energy, how efficient your data center is (PUE) The potential Carbon Footprint and LEED rating of the site.
Compliance, the alphabet soup of the data center world (PCI, HIPAA, SSA16E, etc.) is something that should be closely scrutinized because etc, many providers claim to meet these standards, but fewer actually do. ANTARA knows how to probe to get to the true answer of where the data center really stands (what they have been audited against and what they haven’t) so informed decisions can be made.
Questions? Reach out to us. We have experts on our team, like Mike Jump, who can help step you through the process.