Many companies are considering transferring their data center responsibilities to an external colocation or multi-tenant service provider. It is a proposition worth considering because colocation providers assume the responsibilities for rack space and power while maintaining all critical facility utilities such as HVAC units for cooling. In addition to these reasons for making this switch, many others outsource their data centers to address or augment security, space availability, scalability, economics and internal staff’s skill.
Once you decide a colocation facility is right for your business, the next step is choosing a provider with the best service offerings because all colocations are not created equal. Selecting the right provider for your needs takes research, time and patience. Make sure before you begin, you identify your specific needs to find the best match and just as important, make sure the selected colocation provider has the tools to address your requirements.
Here are 6 must-ask questions you need to address before signing on the dotted line with a colocation provider:
How will I be billed?
Beware of colocation data center providers who bill based on circuit capacity (metered billing). Make sure that the colocation you select bills on actual usage instead. This is possible when the multi-tenant provider has the proper monitoring software in place to report on the energy and space usage of individual tenants. The provider must be able to separate their facility into zones to keep track of your usage and bill vs other tenants.
What’s your power supply like?
This is a two-part inquiry. First determine how robust the power grid is where the colocation is located. How far is the nearest power station from the colocation facility? Do they ever experience power rationing or blackouts? When was their last power outage, and how long did it take them to regain operations?
Second: inquire if the colocation has the power monitoring capability to bill accurately as mentioned above and the agility to change if your power-draw increases or decreases over time. If they save power by increasing their efficiency, will that savings be passed on to you?
What’s your disaster recovery plan?
This is one of the main reasons that companies are turning to colocations. Make sure the colocation you’re considering provides access to multiple, geographically diverse data centers. Primary and secondary locations can improve your backup and disaster recovery preparedness. Make sure to ask if the colocation has:
- Disaster recovery planning
- Tested the resilience of their data center
- The ability to run “what if” disaster planning
What can you tell me about your DCIM system?
If this question draws a blank look, reconsider your choice immediately. Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solutions have gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have, especially in large facilities like colocations. Without a DCIM solution to pull and integrate information from all the siloed systems in a data center, the colocation provider will never have the single pane-of-glass view of all data to prove SLAs are being met.
Will I have access to your DCIM system reports?
Not only should the colocation facility you choose have a functioning DCIM system that supplies them with real-time intelligence, but they should also share the information that applies specifically to your assets. You should be able to view your energy and space consumption, uptime reports, rack conditions, asset management and environmental status among other data. Make sure to ask if the colocation can supply:
- The reports you want and need
- Data regarding pre-defined limits so that contracts can be updated
How do I know you’re meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs)?
The colocation you choose should be able to provide proof that SLAs are being met at any time, by simply pulling a report. They should have this information at their fingertips.
The decision to “Go Colo” or not is very personal, and depends on many factors, especially your business needs. Make sure that the colocation you choose offers a multi-tenant DCIM solution, understands your needs completely and can deliver the kind of attention to detail and transparency that your business requires.