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Data Centers Checklist

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By: Nihad Hassan

July 1, 2021

Organizations of all sizes and across all industries opt to utilize digital technology to improve productivity, increase revenue and enhance customer stratifications. The utilization of digital solutions has led to increasing the volume of digital data. To benefit from this data, you need to have reliable solutions that allow for easy access and at the same time protect stored data from all types of risks affecting its availability, confidentiality, and integrity. Data becomes the lifeblood of organizations that cannot run without it. Having a reliable storage infrastructure is a crucial element for any organization to foster the adoption of digital technology within it.

What is a data center?

A data center is a physical location in its basic definition, such as a dedicated building or a room within a building that organizations use to store their data, applications, and other network appliances that facilitate connectivity.

They were commonly housed on-premises; however, as computing technology continues to advance, modern data centers are now more advanced and include cutting-edge IT equipment that links on-premises with others housed in the cloud. The new connectivity model (on-premises and in the cloud) is now known as the “Multi-cloud model.”

The term “data center” may give the sense that it is composed of one element. However, this is not accurate. For instance, they are composed of the following primary three components:

  1. Servers – used to run data center applications.
  2. Data storage solutions - such as hard disk drive, solid-state drive, or tape storage.
  3. Networking appliances - are used to connect the different components of the data center and collectively with the outside world.

Running an in-house data center facility is costly and requires extensive expertise and resources that are better left to support core business functions. Utilizing a service from a colocation provider is considered the best option for a world-class service without bothering to manage all related aspects of the on-premise data center, such as technical and compliance requirements.

We will discuss the main requirements that any organization should consider before selecting it.

Data Center Checklist

Location

It refers to the geographical location where the building is and its physical characteristics. The facility should meet with:

  1. Geographical and political stability: it must be located in a risk-free zone. For example, the climate conditions should be supportive of holding such a sensitive facility. The political stability of the geographical area where the data center facility is located is also critical to make sure nothing can affect the security and availability of data.
  2. Is the geographical location close to target markets?
  3. Is the data center’s geographical location far from natural disaster zones like hurricanes, earthquakes, ice storms, floods, and excessive heat?
  4. Can the data center scale over time? Is there enough space to hold additional storage cabinets or other related equipment like servers?
  5. The number of windows: it is recommended that the data center have no window in storage rooms. However, windows can be placed in the office and other supportive utility rooms.
  6. Datacenter buildings should be physically separated from other buildings in the facility.

Cost of power

The cost of electricity is the highest cost you will pay as a part of your overall data center provider bill. Select a provider that resides in the area with low power cost. Such places are typically located outside big cities. For example, in the USA, Louisiana has the lowest electricity rate (9.7 cents).

Power planning

Aside from power consumption, your future data center provider must have adequate power sources and contingency units. Consider these requirements:

  1. Can the provider scale up its power sources to cope with future increased consumption?
  2. There should be multiple entrances for electricity to enter the data center building.
  3. Should there be conversion equipment to protect data center computing devices from sudden electrical spikes or surges?
  4. How many contingency generators the data center provider provides in case a power outage takes place? You should secure at least 48 hours of continual work after a power failure.
  5. The number of UPS units for each computing device in the data center should be a reliable UPS system. It should last an adequate time till the generator launches.

Cooling and heating systems

The location must contain the necessary cooling and heating systems to keep the temperature within acceptable limits. Temperature sensors should be scattered in all data center facility rooms to monitor temperature 24 hours a day. The fire alarm system must warn about any fire incident before it escalates.

The physical layout of the data center should support cooling and heating the facility within minimum controls. For example, a high ceil that will allow airflow is better than a low ceil, resulting in increased heat and more power consumption.

Taxes

Not all states impose the same taxes; consider selecting a provider with the lowest tax, as this will reflect on your final bill. For example, Alabama offers up to 30 years of tax breaks for data centers investing $400 million and creating at least 20 jobs with an average annual compensation of $40,000.

Physical security

Space must use advanced surveillance cameras covering all areas within it, including its entrance and exit doors. Guards should also protect the main gates leading to buildings. Biometric authentication along with key cards should secure entrance to buildings.

Logical data security

Your data must be protected in the data center using the latest protection technology to guarantee that it is safe from unauthorized parties. Multi-factor authentication must allow secure remote access, while encryption is necessary to secure data at rest.

Secure Network Connection and adequate bandwidth

Your future provider must give a secure connection (e.g., via VPN) in addition to high bandwidth to cope with the increased volume of transmitted data.

Compliance

Check your compliance requirements before selecting your future provider. According to GDPR, if you store or process EU citizens’ data, you are subject to this regulation. For example, suppose most of your customers are from the EU. In that case, it is better to store their data in any of the EU countries to avoid the hassles of preparing compliance reports periodically to ensure the safety of stored data. According to its work area, an organization could be subject to other compliance frameworks: HIPAA, PCI DSS, and ISO 27001.

Summary

Organizations worldwide are now utilizing a massive amount of data as a part of their daily work. Using a service from a data center is a cost-effective solution that allows storing an enormous amount of data and provides secure access to it with minimal costs.

This article sheds light on the most critical factors that any organization should consider before selecting its future data center provider.

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