FRII Break Room

Informal tech chatter from the geeks of Northern Colorado’s largest commercially available data center

How should I choose a data center?

racks in Front Range Internet, Inc.'s data center

FRII’s data center

When considering a data center, there are many different factors that should be considered that tailor to the unique needs of any business. Decisions should be made on whether or not a specific data center meets your business needs, as not all data centers are right for all needs.

There are several reasons that outsourcing to a data center can be the right choice, but two of the biggest ones are cost and business continuity.

In this article we’ll briefly look at both of those factors, then give you some questions to ask data center providers before deciding on which one is right for you.

Cost

messy pile of $100 bills - fills the imageWhen looking at data centers and colocation (putting your server in someone else’s data center), you want to make the right decisions – ones that don’t lead you down a costly path. Building your own data center means that you need to provide security, staff for that security, fire suppression, cooling systems, redundant power sources, bandwidth that will handle the data flow, and up-to-date ongoing maintenance. Building a small data center is likely to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars upfront (many have upfront costs of over $1M), and have ongoing costs.

Data center companies already have these in place and provide the ongoing services, saving you those costs and allowing you to keep your mind on your business instead of worrying about the security of your data.

Business Continuity

A comic book style explosion with the word "BOOM!" overlaid across itIf disaster strikes, outsourcing ensures your company doesn’t come to a screeching halt. Instead of having your backed up files on site, they’re secure in a data center, off site, away from your physical location. This means you don’t lose those records, and you can get your business operating again. Some data centers, such as FRII, even offer disaster recovery suites, so you can set up a temporary office to work out of while recovering from a disaster.

What to ask when looking for a good Data Center

When considering a data center, there are many different factors that should be considered that tailor to the unique needs of any business. Decisions should be made on whether or not a specific data center meets your business needs, as not all data centers are right for all needs.

Below are a few questions you’ll want to ask to ensure you’re choosing the right data center.

Is my data secure?

close-up photo of an eye, overlaid with digital, biometric markings and a data streamSafe and secure data should be a top priority for any business, and it’s important for a data center to preempt the many ways, shapes, and forms that data centers can be unsafe. They should be both physically and digitally secure.

At FRII we give peace of mind through physical security that includes 24-hour on-sit security, continuous video monitoring, biometric locks (yep – just like in a sci-fi thriller, folks have their irises scanned in order to unlock the door), a restricted interlock system, and RFID access, all working in tandem.

Data centers can be compromised by physical acts, but digital security plays an important part, as well. You can be confident with FRII, knowing that we are a certified Type II data center, fully compliant with SAS SSAE 16 SOC 2 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).

When choosing a data center for your business, be sure they offer both the physical and digital security that your business needs.

Is this company flexible?

silhouette illustration of a man doing a full backbendAs your business grows and changes, so do your data needs. The family selling fresh pet food at the farmers market has very different needs than that same company 15 years down the road, selling millions of dollars of high-grade pet food every year. And a local law firm has different needs than the Office of the Attorney General. The same data center may work for all of them, but only if they offer flexibility.

Many data centers are limited by their size. You need a data center as flexible as your business. FRII, for example, can be as flexible as you need us to be. We offer rack space as small as 3U and as big as more than 100 full racks. The specific options available to those in our data center are flexible, too.

You don’t need to choose FRII, but you do need to choose a data center that can and will work with you to meet your needs. This is especially important if you aren’t sure what your needs are – a flexible company can help you discover your actual needs, without having to push you toward their pre-fabricated solutions.

Is this data center truly the tier they’re claiming to be?

silhouette of sherlock holmes with magnifying glassMost people don’t understand data center tiering classifications or compliance, which makes it easy for unscrupulous data centers to claim to be something they aren’t. Sadly, we’ve seen companies do this, and have had their customers come to us once they discovered they weren’t getting what they’d been promised.

When choosing a provider, people tend to look at numbers without fully understanding what they mean, or knowing what the ongoing maintenance and operational plans are.

Maintenance plays a role in data center sustainability, and it’s a good idea to ask what kind of maintenance is done and how often.

Certification specs should be considered, as some companies can follow the guidelines without truly being certified at a specific tier. So ask about certifications before deciding on a data center.

What it boils down to is, “Is the company I’m looking at actually representing what they claim to have?” If they aren’t, steer clear. You don’t want a company that’s just steam and mirrors.

Again, using FRII as an example, we are a Tier II data center. We can back that claim. We have the paper work, knowledge, and physical specs to prove it. We can almost claim to be a Tier III data center. Almost. All we’re missing is something that is virtually impossible to get in Northern Colorado (though we keep working at it!). It would be easy to claim that we’re Tier III. Most people would have no idea, and most wouldn’t ask questions that would uncover it. (In this case, it’s that we would need one more power source that’s entirely separate from what already exists. We have separate power entrances, and stand-alone generators, but power is regulated by the government and it’s difficult to set up our own power production.) But we won’t claim we’re Tier III until we truly are. Our feeling is that if you can’t trust a company to tell you the truth about themselves, you probably can’t trust them with your business.

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