Interxion’s Harm Joosse outlines the key considerations businesses must take into account when it comes to selecting the right data centre partner for expansion.
With more and more data created every second and the advent of emerging technologies, data centres need to have capacity for the increasing space, power and cooling required. This is coupled with growing concern around sustainability, the desire to achieve all of this in as ‘green’ a way as possible, and a move to consolidate data centres into fewer locations – all of which is making colocation an attractive option for more and more businesses.
Perhaps most importantly, having infrastructure in place that can adapt to the changing demands of your business and society at large is crucial. A colocation facility isn’t just a house for your data; the space you rent needs to be designed to match the needs of your business. So what aspects of data centre design should you consider when evaluating a colocation provider?
Designing an environment that can adapt to different business requirements necessitates accounting for many factors. A reliable, state-of-the-art facility takes into account location, operational excellence, efficiency, resilience, sustainability, security, and the best design for flexibility and scalability.
A data centre’s location is key, as it will affect both operational and cost efficiencies. Base considerations include access to good communication and power infrastructures, proximity to available labour and relevant services, as well as enough space for all necessary elements. It must also be safe from extreme weather conditions and other risk factors such as fire or even geopolitical stability when entering a new market.
Choosing the right location depends on the use case you want to deliver. If latency matters, data centres located as close to end users as possible will guarantee the fastest, most seamless experience for them. If being colocated with complimentary services is most important, choosing a data centre with the right interconnection partners will take precedence – these are all factors that make a difference when talking about data centre design.
Data centres should be designed to operate smoothly, ensuring resilience that can guarantee business continuity. Questions that should be asked when approaching infrastructure and a data centre provider are:
- Will you be able to meet all of the regulatory, governance and security requirements? Making sure that the provider not only has a track record of doing this, but also deeply understands different industries and local laws is vitally important.
- Does your technology roadmap match up with the provider’s?
- How is the data centre managed daily? As a mission-critical piece of infrastructure, knowing that the data centre is managed well and that your data will be physically secure matters.
- How easy is it to walk away if you need to? Unfortunately, not all providers offer the flexibility to leave if you don’t feel it’s the right fit, or at least make it very difficult. Flexibility is important.
- Do they build in a modular way to ensure that they are always able to provide adequate space and power for customers?
- Are they forward-thinking when it comes to data centre design?
- Do they factor in energy efficient measures to reduce costs and environmental impact?
With sustainability now a top priority for many businesses, it’s key that data centre sustainability isn’t overlooked. Many EU countries have rules and regulations in place around the energy efficiency of data centre design. Additionally, demonstrating environmental stewardship can often help you gain customers in Europe. For example, Taxi Stockholm has vowed to be completely fossil fuel-free by 2025, an initiative that extends to their service providers.
Data centres should deliver an efficient, cost-effective service, minimising waste without compromising performance. Where possible, data centres should strive to use 100pc renewable energy. Because of economies of scale, large, multi-tenant data centres are able to design more efficiently, which is important to think about.
Innovation is also key to increase data centre industry sustainability, and ‘green’ innovations – such as cold-aisle containment, natural cooling, closed-loop energy recycling, computational fluid dynamics and variable frequency drives – are now in use in some facilities. Ensure your data centre provider is forward-thinking when it comes to these things.
Keeping your data secure has always been hugely important, but has become even more critical in recent years with regulations such as GDPR in Europe. Data centre security goes beyond the encryption or data security solutions that companies choose to use. Physical security of infrastructure also matters.
Ideally, data centres should have 24/7 monitoring, alarms for every critical system, plus incident management and business continuity management. Physical security should be guaranteed, with multiple access barriers (such as mantraps, contactless key cards, biometric readers) and private rooms with extra security systems for highly sensitive information.
By Harm Joosse
Harm Joosse directs segment strategy and business development for cloud and SaaS platforms at Interxion. His areas of expertise include enterprise software solutions, IT architecture, customer experience and design, and financial markets.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Interxion blog.