Top 8 reasons why data centre solutions fail

1. Lack of planning

Businesses must be able to clearly articulate what it is that they want from their data centre provider. They must begin by asking themselves:

  • What are our business objectives?
  • Who are the key stake holders and decision makers who need to buy it?
  • How can a data centre help us achieve our objectives?
  • What long term support will a data centre provider give us?
  • How will we migrate our existing systems and applications from the current environment to the new data centre with minimal downtime?
  • Can the data centre provider not only assist in the transition but also offer IaaS as a buffer during the migration?
  • Has the end to end delivery from network, to access methods, application delivery, business continuity & DR been considered?

Build a data centre business case with these aspects in mind.

2. Misrepresentation by the seller

Some salesmen will tell you anything to get you to sign on the dotted line, but when it comes time for the goods to be delivered, they just aren't as advertised. Either that or you buy a service which you don't really need.

Take, for example, Tier 4 data centres. Very few businesses need to be using such a rigorous system, after all, the difference between Tier 3 and 4 is just 0.013% availability, which comes down to just 68 minutes over a whole year. Tier 4 is vastly more expensive, and for just over an hour a year can be overpriced and over-engineered.

3. End to End ownership

There are very few end to end service providers on the market. Most data centre companies provide co-location environments but leave customers to source their own networking, complementary IaaS or data management and protection. This means that if something goes wrong with the delivery of the service there are a multitude of suppliers involved which not only lengthen the fix time but who will pass responsibility between each other No ownership means a disjointed service and split responsibility.

Customers need to choose a company that can offer a joined-up service that encompasses the provision of data centre, network, IaaS, data management and protection and who put accountability at the top of their priorities, whether by providing a dedicated project manager to see over the installation or by providing a single point of contact to help them with any problems.

4. Location

When considering your data centre, the location is another key factor. Perhaps you want a data centre that is close to your head office or your centre of operations, or in a major city. Bear in mind, a city centre location could mean compromising on power, security and could come at a premium price. City-based data centres are often in buildings that were not built with data in mind and can be inefficient and, at worst, not fit for purpose.

The best bet is an out-of-town facility that is accessible by major roads and public transport. This ensures access for both the customer and the provider that staffs the facility. Also -as times have moved and remote access is the norm- the time you will actually visit the facility once the initial implementation is completed, will be minimal so how important is a city centre facility in any case? Choosing the optimal location is essential for your business.

5. Drill and Test

Once systems have been implemented, they must be applied and exercised. If you have a Disaster Recovery plan that utilises multiple network connections, these must be tested. If your secondary line has a fault but you haven't tested it since it was put it, how do you know if it works or not?

Data centres should do fail-over tests on a regular basis. Business continuity planning relies upon data centres being capable of running your service in spite of any problems. By drilling staff, doing dry runs of problems that could occur, data centre providers guarantee that your business is maintained.

6. Audit and Documentation

Businesses must keep a record of their actions. A data centre provider who claims 'hands and eyes' and 24/7 security must be able to provide proof of these claims. Documentation in a mission critical environment is essential. CCTV recordings should be kept for 90 days for ISO compliance and auditing purposes.

By documenting all actions, these can be used by businesses to implement changes if required. By recording all procedures, any error can traced. These records need to be easily accessible to businesses.

Adherence to ITIL service management practises is a good indicator of data centre excellence.

7. Quality systems

A data centre should have quality assurances. PCI and ISO standards should be the minimum requirement for businesses looking for a data centre. Data centres should be built to the correct operational standard for your requirements and customer support should be 24/7.

24/7 customer service does not just mean a tired engineer roused from sleep at 3am on his mobile phone, but a team of experienced staff who are watching your hosting environment and IT systems and ensure the data centre environment is meeting its cooling and temperature guidelines around the clock.

8. Best effort and business grade

There is a crucial difference between a data warehouse provider who provides large co-location suites to other providers and businesses or a customer focused data centre provider using enterprise grade, business standard facilities and who prove a real partner to your business.

Data centres should be risk-free, and customer support should be available any time, any where. Diligence and attentiveness from your data centre provider means that your business is protected and supported.