A Guide To Effectively Evaluating A Data Center


Relying on others to look after your server may not seem like the ideal solution but it is certainly more cost effective than attempting to establish and maintain your own. A data center is an essential part of any hosting company’s offering but it is especially important when looking at colocating, or dedicated servers.

Colocating requires the purchase of your own server. You then lease a room, a rack, or some shelf space from a data center in order to house your server. In contrast, with a dedicated server plan whether managed or unmanaged, you effectively lease the server from the host and usually keep it in their data center.

Obviously one of the most important aspects of these types of account is the data center itself. However, even if you are looking for a shared hosting account you should take some notice of the data center where your server will be located. The data center is the hub of your server activity. Even a poor climate or a dusty environment can cause untold damage to a server and if this happens then the best result is that your site will become unresponsive and slow. The worst-case scenario, on the other hand, is that it will completely crash.

Power System


A simply plug into the local grid is not enough for a fully functioning data center. A full power system and ongoing power system management must be integrated. Using an uninterrupted power supply is an absolute must but still far from the ideal solution if used on its own. An uninterrupted power supply can manage the power load for a relatively short period of time ensuring that any peaks and troughs do not cause instability. However, in the event of a power failure it will do little or no good to assist.

A secondary, or redundant uninterrupted power supply should be prevalent. A redundant supply ensures that if the main UPS system goes down then the secondary one will automatically kick in. The redundant UPS should be drawn from a different grid or power station to the primary power source. This way if one grid fails completely the redundant UPS will still be fully operational. A redundant UPS also ensures that maintenance can be carried out without a loss of power.

A backup generator should be provided as a fail safe for any serious emergency. Generally these are used as a very last resort or during the transition from the primary to the secondary UPS. It may seem excessive to essentially have three separate power sources but by doing this it is possible to allow for even the most extreme of circumstances. A generator can be battery powered, diesel powered, or even turbine powered. Although the latter generally costs far too much and offers an always-on source of power which is not cost effective as a backup power supply.

Environmental Consistency


The environment of the data center is also important. Too hot or too cold and a server will suffer damage or a loss in performance. An HVAC or heating, ventilation and conditioning system ensures that a data center can be kept in perfect condition constantly. Always consider whether the HVAC that a data center boasts is really enough to cool the systems that are in place. Remember that the power supplies should also, in theory, have their own HVAC equivalent installed. Environmental pressures really can cause server damage. While it is generally in the data center owner’s interest to ensure that they are providing optimal conditions for their servers and those belonging to people collocating this isn’t always the case.

Try to ensure that there is a redundant HVAC system available. As with anything, there is a possibility that the original system can go down or become inoperable. In this case, without a backup system, your server is left to bake in the heat and collect dust until someone can be called out to fix it.

Network Equipment


Servers with a power supply and a method to maintain the appropriate environmental conditions are still only a part of your battle in finding the perfect data center. The first aspect is switches, routers, and internal wiring. There are numerous manufacturers of quality goods in these areas but there are an equal number of poor but cheap manufacturers. Fortunately, it is a false economy for hosts to purchase these cheap products because they do fail easily and quickly. However try to look for well-known names and ensure that, once again, there are spare switches and routers available. One of the words you will find yourself using more often than others when looking for a good data center is the word redundant.

Security


If you run a business website then data is key to the survival of your business. Data centers should offer some form of security on or outside their premises. The biggest data centers will usually provide staffed security gates as well as highly secure entry and exit routes. They may also use CCTV cameras placed around the property for extra backup. Data centers with security staff are particularly safe, and obviously this is the one area where the word redundancy is not a good point.

Conclusion


Your website is critical to your business. Whether you are an online entrepreneur, a sole trader, or part of a large organization you need to protect the server that you use from damage and from potential failure. Only by ensuring that you are using a highly effective and professional data center can you be completely secure.

This may all seem excessive but a data center that doesn’t provide all of this can not guarantee that your server and subsequently your website and your business do not suffer when placed in their hands. Do some shopping around although obviously visiting every potential data center in person is unlikely to be a viable exercise so make sure that their website or their support staff give you the appropriate information.