Placing your backup servers and other equipment in the care of a colocation data center is a great way to achieve more, while paying less. That’s because you get economies of scale by sharing mechanical equipment, physical security, and building infrastructure with other tenants.
However this does not let you off the hook completely. This is because you still have to deploy your own computing equipment, and the way you go about this can inadvertently affect other users.
However, you’ll be glad to know this is not rocket science. Your data center host can advise on server consolidation, general housekeeping, optimal use of air-conditioning, security policies, and the add-on services available.
Step One: Consolidate and Virtualize Servers
You pay according to the amount of equipment you install in a data colocation center. Most of this is servers you use to host your files and applications. Some servers have several processors to run different tasks simultaneously. However these tasks may cause software conflicts, and so administrators usually run one server per application.
This conservative approach is the source of multiple business inefficiencies. You need more physical space, more racks, more servers, and more electricity to run the network and the cooling. While this may not be such an obvious issue in your own computer room, you may be surprised at the add-on cost in a colocation center.
Fortunately, there’s a workaround in the form of specialist software, making it possible to partition a single server into multiple virtual machines. Each of these compartments would then be able to run a specific application, without causing conflicts with the other software.
Of course, you may still want to run certain tasks on their own dedicated servers. Run the numbers. Do a cost-risk-benefit analysis and you will know what you have to do.
Step 2: Keep a Cool Head When Installing
It’s clearly in everybody’s interests to do everything we can to ensure an even flow of cooling, air-conditioned air throughout the data colocation center. Without a doubt, racking and cabling can make a positive difference depending on how you set it out.
If you have spare capacity on your server racks, try to space the equipment to create breathing spaces between. Install the equipment in alternating ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ corridors to avoid pumping hot exhaust air into intake vents.
Remember to speak to your colocation manager about how they can assist with blanking panels, underfloor air circulation, exhausting chimneys, and optimal cold corridor – hot corridor management. Your equipment should last longer if you help it ‘keep its cool’.
Step Three: Remember the Housekeeping
It’s essential you take steps to keep your colocation space safe and tidy. After all, you have near neighbors unless you opt for a more expensive, separate cage. You and other users have a right to expect consideration from each other.
Your number one task is to keep your area clean, and not leave boxes and packaging lying around. Dust and lint are bad news for info tech equipment, as are fibers because they block air intakes and cause machines to overheat.
Moreover this static-charged trash can cause data loss and data corruption. It is also fire’s friend because it makes perfect kindling to feed a blaze.
Data colocation centers lay on a number of communal facilities. Make sure your people understand why it is important to leave break rooms, presentation and conference rooms, hallways, ablutions and shared work spaces in the condition they found them.
Encourage them to report unsatisfactory situations to data center staff. Your colocation center is part of your back-of-office strategy, and you may want to show it off to new clients.
Step 4: Get Your Mind around Data Center Security Policies
You chose your data colocation center because they impressed you with exceptionally high standards. These probably addressed the following compliance issues:
- Criteria behind sought-after awards by the International Organization for Standardization ISO
- Payment Card Industry PCI thresholds for accepting credit card payments for ecommerce
- Measures to protect medical information under Health Portability and Insurance Act HIPAA
There is no substitute for robust security measures when it comes to meeting, and retaining these high standards. The weakest link is the measure of the overall level of security, and all tenants must therefore maintain full compliance at all times.
Data center security policies update regularly as new challenges are identified, and disabled. It’s therefore essential you remain in touch with progress, and take the necessary measures whenever you should.
Make sure you maintain an accurate list of employees / contractors you authorize to enter the colocation center and access your installation. If they are not on the list, security will not admit them regardless of who they are and how far they have travelled.
Security is one of those ‘inconvenient things’ you have to have to keep your data safe.
Step 5: Use Center In-House Services for Peace of Mind
You may have wondered ‘how on earth am I going to this’ when we discussed virtualizing servers, and laying your installation out to optimize cooling. You may like to consider your colocation center’s team of experts to do this for you, as opposed to using contractors.
The former are arguably more likely to achieve full compatibility with ISO, PCI, HIPAA, and in-house standards. Moreover, you are not letting a stranger into the space where you keep your data.
Step 6: Read Your Contract One More Time
You may have learned a few new things when reading this article, and are now wiser about how data colocation centers work. Therefore, it’s a good idea to read through your contract again in the light of these insights.