Many businesses are looking towards data center providers to fulfill their hybrid cloud needs. Modern third-party data centers help businesses find better networking infrastructure, increase data center real estate, and scale as the customer grows.
When you’re looking for a provider, whether you need space for colocation or cloud services, it’s important to understand what makes a modern data center operate. Data center infrastructure and data center design vary by provider, but the basics should always be the same.
We recently pulled together an infographic highlighting some essential elements to look for during a data center infrastructure tour.
When it comes to data center infrastructure, seeing is believing
Seeing certain elements of data center infrastructure, firsthand, can increase confidence in your ultimate selection. Here are a few examples of where seeing is believing:
Business continuity workspace
Some data centers say they offer customizable workspaces that can be used in the event your facility becomes unusable. But is that “workspace” a few second-hand chairs and tables bought at a going-out-of-business sale and set up in an unused storage room? Or is it comfortable desk space and conference rooms with all the amenities, including whiteboards, telephone systems, connectivity, coffee, etc.
Space for your equipment
Data centers should also offer you the ability to customize server space to accommodate your organization’s needs. For example, maybe you need extra security around particularly sensitive workloads, or you may need room to grow as your business expands. Talking to your tour guide about your needs will help them show you how the space can be customized.
The space is more than just server racks, here are a few examples of how your equipment might be housed:
- Cabinets: An equipment storage structure with adjustable vented shelves and perforated locking doors
- Cages: A secure area with wire-mesh walls that supports a wide range of free-standing IT equipment
- Private suites: A dedicated fully-enclosed server space with solid partitions and a locking door
Access controls & physical infrastructure security
A tour also allows you to see how your guide enters and exits certain areas. Are server rooms only accessible with the proper key code or biometrics? Or, are servers kept in an area that can be accessed by anyone in the building?
Top colo providers use extensive physical security technologies, policies, and incident response procedures to prevent unauthorized access, theft, or damage to your equipment and private data. Here are a few feature examples:
- Mantrap: An entry room where both doors are locked until the visitor’s credentials are validated
- Biometric Scanner: Authentication based on the visitor’s retina, fingerprint, face, or voice
- CCTV: Video monitoring and recording to validate audit trails of visitor access
Data centers draw a significant amount of power. Your tour should include a variety of power-related stops, including a look at UPS systems, power distribution units, and backup generators. If the provider’s data center infrastructure conforms to modern power management best practices, they shouldn’t just be showing you a “box” on your tour. They should also be able to show you how they manage and measure important elements such as power usage, voltage fluctuations, and equipment status.
Here are a few power features to look for:
- Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS): devices that provide immediate emergency power when a main power source spikes or drops.
- Backup Generators: Backup generators should provide enough power for a set amount of continuous run-time at full load.
- Diverse A/B power: Two redundant sources of power (2N) from the utility power to rack outlets
- PDU: Equipment that manages the distribution of power from the main power source to your equipment racks
- Whips: PDU cables that run under the raised data center floor to deliver power to your equipment
IT equipment generates a lot of heat, so redundant cooling systems will need to compensate for high heat loads and humidity. Generator backup helps to ensure cooling at all times. Some data center operators with green cooling technologies that focus on energy efficiency. Here are some interesting cooling features to explore:
- Chilled-Water Cooling: Chilled-water loops operate at elevated temperatures with water-side economizers
- Water-Free Cooling: A cooling system with pumped refrigerant economizers and high-efficiency condensers
- Air-Side Economizers: Uses cooler outdoor air to help cool the data center in regions with cool, dry air
See our data centers for yourself
The features above are only some of the top components of a modern data center infrastructure. Learn more in our Strategic Guide to Data Centers and Colocation.
TierPoint operates cloud data centers across the US. Our customers turn to us to meet a variety of their data center needs, including cloud hosting, colocation space, business continuity workspace, and disaster recovery capacity. We also offer a wide portfolio of managed services and professional IT consulting. Contact us to learn more.