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Choosing the Right Data Center for Disaster Recovery Planning

How to select the best data center for your business using nine key factors

Mark Noonan, Vice President of Sales, Data Foundry (Winter 2011)
(page 2 of 3)
4. Network
Network availability and the number of carrier options are crucial factors as they relate to reliability and cost. Carrier-neutral facilities have multiple carrier options that allow for optimized traffic, high levels of network redundancy, and leverage in contract negotiations with a network provider. Competitive pricing is a benefit that a carrier-neutral data center can provide to its customers.

5. Security
There are many levels of security at a data center that can be implemented both inside and outside of the facility. A premium data center will incorporate multiple levels of security across both areas.

A facility with a strong outer layer of security can reduce the chance of vandalism or break-ins. The first line of defense is a barrier or fence, guarded access, and perimeter intrusion monitoring solutions. This solution, which may be integrated into the facility's access control and alarm monitoring system, can include video technology based on a virtual perimeter. Around-the-clock security at all entrances, including loading docks, provides increased protection from unauthorized access.

Internal security measures can include multiple layers of authentication to control access to the data center. Biometric options such as retina or palm scanners offer an elevated level of identification. Internal, closed-captioned video systems monitoring all entrances and key areas throughout the facility provide surveillance and archive footage of all activity. Data centers also implement features such as mantraps that consist of interlocking doors in which the first set of doors must close before the second set opens. Mantraps require measures such as pass codes, cards, or biometric scanners for further access.

Since the data center houses critical information and IT infrastructures, it is important to understand the full extent of the security measures taken at each level of the facility and campus.

6. Staff
A top-notch facility will have experienced and knowledgeable staff to help with any support issue that may arise. Yet half of all data centers in the U.S. are understaffed or under-skilled, according to studies such as the Symantec's 2010 State of the Data Center. Only consider a data center that has onsite support staff 24/7/365, not only during standard business hours. Data centers commonly offer "remote hands" service so customers can rely on the data center's personnel even when they are not physically there.

7. Corporate Ownership
The best facilities are owned and managed by a true data center operator, not a real estate company looking to flip the property. Verify that the data center owner is financially viable and has a long track record of operating all facets of the data center.

The data center owner's financial stability is very important. An unstable company may require frequent configuration changes or equipment moves to offset poor planning and organization. Each change, whether planned or unplanned, can be a major inconvenience and expose businesses to downtime. Find a provider that has built its business on the core competencies of a successful, financially strong data center.

8. Scalability
A highly scalable data center can support rapid growth of space, power, and bandwidth demands. The ideal data center will allow for fast, seamless growth, as well as the deployment of new services without requiring a major overhaul of infrastructure or disrupting customer operations.

Reconfiguring space or moving equipment can incur additional costs and increase room for error. When assessing a facility's scalability, consider your short- and long-term growth potential and review the provider's ability to accommodate these needs.

9. Creature Comforts
Since your employees are your company's most important asset, be mindful of the data center's creature comforts. In the event of a disaster, employees may be required to work long hours at the facility. Taking the time to evaluate what is available to your employees when choosing a data center will ensure that your staff is in a safe and accommodating environment.
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