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10 Serious Datacenter Questions

10 Critical Questions to Ask Your Next Data Center Manager

Your company has worked hard to create a mind-blowing cloud application. You’re ready to take it to the next level, but you need to make sure your data center can handle the load. Asking these 10 critical questions will help you make certain your next data center is ready for the job.

About the company

1. Are the data centers certified and audited each year?

Audits and certifications give you a standardized way of reading an independent analysis of the facility’s reliability, security, and quality. For example, many financial institutions will require SSAE 16, while websites that take payments will require the data center to be PCI-DSS compliant.

2. Does your phone support staff have access to technicians around the clock?

When you get an alert at 2am and you need a set of eyes and hands in front of your cabinet, you want to make sure that the person you talk to has access to the right engineer for the job.

3. What training and certifications do your hands-on engineers have?

Data center equipment needs to be serviced at regular intervals. You may also need to have hands and eyes available to work on your machine if you’re not able to be present. If this is the case, you really don’t want a security guard doing this task. You need someone with IT credentials and experience with maintaining network and server equipment. You should ask what types of certifications they are required to have in order to do daytime and nighttime support. If the engineers are well-qualified, this may limit your need to drive in to the data center in the middle of the night.

4. How is your data center protected against natural disasters?

Regardless of where your data center is located, there’s some chance that it will be struck by a natural disaster. These could include snowstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and tornadoes. Even if the data center is able to survive a massive earthquake, how long can it continue to supply power using its generators with the fuel they already have on-site? Also, how many fuel suppliers are contracted to bring additional fuel during the emergency?

5. During a disaster, how will the data center keep you informed?

In case of a disaster, how will the data center contact all of its customers to let them know there has been an emergency? Also, how will it keep them apprised of the latest status of their data and services?


6. Are all of your data centers carrier neutral?

By staying carrier neutral, the data centers can provide multiple carriers in case of an outage. They are also able to use the BGP best past selection algorithm to provide low latency performance.


7. How is the physical security at your data centers?

Typically, security is viewed in two ways, physical and virtual. Since the data center houses your physical servers, they are also responsible for physical security. This may take the form of:

  • Only 2 points of entry and egress
  • ID badge or biometrics
  • Exit only fire doors
  • Lots of security cameras

Employees at the data center should also know all of the emergency protocols.


8. Can the site handle the power requirements necessary for future growth? Also, how much power can be consumed per cabinet?

When evaluating the data center, make sure they can support the power requirements that your servers will need for virtualization. Be very specific because some facilities may indicate 60A per cabinet but they can truly only handle 30 amps primary and 30 amps redundant. Make sure you specify that you will be “consuming” that much power, otherwise you may be limited to only using a portion of your circuits’ capacity.

9. How often is your power switching tested for load performance?

Load testing generators is expensive because of the amount of fuel that is required and the equipment needed for testing. Unfortunately, a simple power outage is not the same as a full load test to see how much load their generator can handle. This type of routine maintenance should be done to ensure that power requirements are met before an emergency.


10. How do you handle temperature control in your data center?

Does the data center use cold and hot aisle containment? Alternatively, do they simply try to defuse the hot air with cold air? Find out how they control and monitor temperature. Are they set up to handle the special cooling requirements of high-density cabinets?



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