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Businesses IT

How Do You Evaluate a Data Center? 211

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the check-for-major-fault-lines dept.
mpapet writes to ask about the ins and outs of datacenter evaluation. Beyond the simpler questions of physical access control, connectivity, and power redundancy/capacity and SLA review, what other questions are important to ask when evaluating a data center? What data centers have people been happy with? What horror stories have people lived through with those that didn't make the cut?
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How Do You Evaluate a Data Center?

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  • by Critical Facilities (850111) * on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:29PM (#30038552) Homepage

    Beyond the simpler questions of physical access control, connectivity, and power redundancy/capacity and SLA review

    Well first of all, I don't know that I'd write any of those things off as "simple". But some other points worth looking into would be:

    1. Raised Floor Height
      Cable Management (over or under floor)
      Cooling Capacity and Redundancy
      Power Quality (not just redundancy)
      Age and Condition of Electrical Hardware (ATSs, STSs, UPSs, Generators)
      Outage/Uptime History
      Fire Suppression System and Smoke Detection System
      Maintenance records
      Maintenance records
      Maintenance records
  • History (Score:3, Insightful)

    by micksam7 (1026240) * on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:30PM (#30038568)

    Look at a datacenter's history [recent and past], outages, maintenance issues, customer support, management and etc, in conjunction with their listed redundancies and capacities.

    Just because they have two electrics going to each server, doesn't mean a random maintenance tech will flip the wrong switch. :)

  • attack it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:31PM (#30038584)

    set it on fire, throw floods at it, generate tornados, then top it off with a nice earthquake.

  • by Astrobirdr (560760) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:37PM (#30038670)
    I'd also ask:

    Number of years in business.
    Involvement of the owner in the current business.
    Number of years the current owner has been in this business.
    Also do a check with the Better Business Bureau to see what, if any, complaints had been filed.

    And, as always, Google is your friend -- definitely do a search for the business you are considering along with the word(s) problem, issue, complaint, praise, etc!
  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:39PM (#30038686) Homepage Journal

    Add to that:

    -KW deliverable to each rack

    -Ambient temperature in the cold aisle and how closely it's held (and possibly make it part of SLA)

    -On site technicians (and/or security) and their hours

    -Customer access policy and applicable hours (are you going to be happy, AND are threats going to be kept out?)

  • by Triela (773061) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:43PM (#30038744)
    Once you have assessed these technical points to your satisfaction, I think customer support's ability to communicate issues to you as they arise is the final bridge. Every datacenter will at the very least experience minor problems from time to time, and if you're not able to speak directly with the techs working the problems or if first-line customer support does not have ready access to the details of the resolution process, it sure is frustrating to be left in the dark in the meantime.
  • Word of mouth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:45PM (#30038776) Journal

    Find someone you trust who's already a customer. Word of mouth beats any number of white papers or studies or guarantees.

  • by chris.knowles (1109139) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:46PM (#30038788)
    There are basically 3 perspectives from which to evaluate the Datacenter. They're pretty well universal to any IT eval. People, Process and Technology. The datacenter facility itself is only one piece of the puzzle (Facility = Technology, which only accounts for a fraction of the total cost of operating a Datacenter). There are also the people running the datacenter and how they are organized and interact with the technology, one another, and their customers (internal and external). From a people/process standpoint, if you want to give a general "score" to them, you can assess them against the SLM maturity scale. (Read about the Gartner Maturity Model for Infrastructure and Operations) Evaluating a datacenter is going to be a balance between the cost of operating the datacenter and the level of service you require from said datacenter. There really isn't enough information in the question to give you a good answer. Are you looking at evaluating the acquisition of a datacenter to grow into, are you looking for a managed services DC to host your gear with operational support? Are you looking for rack space with pipe and power? If you give more details to your inquiry, I'm sure the community can provide you with some great answers.
  • What do you need? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tdawgless (1000974) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:53PM (#30038890)
    What does your company _NEED_? How much bandwidth do you need? What kind of servers do you need? Are you looking for Co-Lo or Dedicated? If you're doing Co-Lo, how much power and space do you need? If you're doing dedicated, do you need managed or unmanaged? PCI compliance? HIPAA compliance? Do you want to pay for certain redundancies? Do you need an Uptime Institute Tier certified facility? I could go on and on. The one thing that you need consistently is good customer service. The rest depends on what you need. Full Disclosure: I work for one of the biggest privately held dedicated hosting companies on the planet.
  • Vending machines. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:55PM (#30038918)
    Since the odds are I'm going to be spending the night there at some point, good vending machines or a cafeteria are a must.
  • You missed a few (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:01PM (#30039004) Journal

    You forgot a few:

    - Enough qualified *on site* staff 24x7 to deal with all clients including yourself

    - 24x7 phone support, with people who understand English and have immediate access to the techies

    - Company financial records and history (You don't want someone almost broke or a new startup with no backing)

    - These days availability of virtualisation solution and supporting hardware (depending on your application, if virtualisation is an option)

    Oh and your emphasis on maintenance records may be a little misplaced. They can be faked. They also may not be available due to security concerns (of their other clients). *IF* you can get hold of them they should be complete. Hardware service level should be part of the agreement and service schedule should be part of that.

  • by lanner (107308) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @12:54AM (#30042396)

    I'd guess 90% of projects fail at step #1: Define your needs. What's the objective here? Why are we doing this, and what are the benchmarks required for success. Does this sound familiar?

    First, define your needs, then evaluate possible solutions to what might meets your needs.

    If you don't know what you need, you don't know what the hell you are doing. Hire someone who does, like a consultant.

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