Things to Ask When Choosing a Data Center

With the enormous growth of the IT industry, data centers are becoming increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes. As an affordable alternative to creating in-house data storage, data centers provide small and medium-sized companies the ability to compete with larger competitors. When a company is shopping around for a data center, there are a few things they should consider. These questions will help determine how effective and secure the data center will store that company’s critical data.

Renting or Owning?

Depending on what a customer’s needs are, data centers should either provide servers to rent or space for a company’s own equipment. If a company rents IT equipment, it is important to note that it will be subject to regulations of the center. If it chooses to house its own equipment, it has a more freedom to manage the equipment as it sees fit.

What Tier is the Data Center?

A commonly overlooked factor in data center reliability is tier. Ask the data center what tier it is categorized as to determine its overall reliability. For example, a Tier 4 data center is required to have state-of-the-art cooling systems, redundant utilities and secured networks. A Tier 1 center, on the other hand, does not have to carry those same provisions.

Microsoft Bing Maps' datacenter

What Type of Clients Store There?

Sometimes, finding out who stores data with a specific provider is evidence enough of their quality. Large corporations that rely on mission-critical data will not store their data at unreliable centers. These companies need the top level of security to protect their data. Customers should inquire about what type of companies store their data at the facility. They should also look to partner with those data centers that have a well-established client base.

Where is the Data Center Located?

Data centers located in areas at high risk for natural disasters are not a good choice. This is because even with the right protocols and precautions in place, that data center is much more likely to suffer harm. This can come in the form of power outages or even irreversible damage caused by natural disasters. This creates downtime and, in turn, impacts a customer’s ability to operate.

How is the Data Center Staffed?

Most reliable data center providers will have in-house staff on the premises 24/7/365. These staff members undergo extensive background checks, training and routine drug tests to ensure they are reliable employees. Customers should ask about the availability of staff, and how they are screened prior to hire. In addition, the IT staff should be highly trained and experienced in all possible challenges.

Staff members who have access to high-security areas should not only carry magnetic key cards, but gain access through biometrics. These measures can include a retinal scan, fingerprint scan or another biometric analysis to grant access. This limits who can access information and helps minimize identity theft.

What is the Financial Situation of the Data Center?

A data center may seem as though it is performing well, but one look at the financial reports can prove otherwise. Customers should look into the finances of a prospective data center to make sure the company is operating without any financial distress. Companies at risk for foreclosure or bankruptcy mean that the customer’s data is at risk as well. If a data center goes out of business, there is a chance a company would be faced with relocating its equipment and data altogether. A world class data center should be financially sound enough to provide their customers with uninterrupted, secure data storage.