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Colo stories: the good, the bad and the ugly

Inside the data hall

Moving your data centre is not a prospect that anyone looks forward to. Like moving home there are plenty of potential pitfalls throughout the process, none of which are a bundle of laughs. But sometimes you have to manage challenges in order to deliver against the desired business or IT strategy – which may mean a transition is necessary, in order to ensure your data centre arrangements are fit for purpose and will properly support, secure and connect your IT infrastructure.

If you have concerns that your current provision will not properly support the changing demands on your IT, or have actually been impacted by downtime, you may have reached the point where the existing arrangements need to be reviewed. And if your best option is to move, the process will involve significant planning, consideration of the implications for IT strategy, as well as the practicalities of the move itself and the restoration of normal service – ensuring everything is back up and running smoothly.

When prospective customers approach us as part of their process of identifying a new data centre provider, they frequently present a similar set of requirements– and the questions they ask are often indicators of their past experience. Their co-lo tales can cover anything from issues with their previous supplier underperforming or even failing, issues with an inappropriate and inflexible contract, unresponsive customer support, or perhaps they have previously been through a particularly difficult move. For others it’s the first time and they simply don’t know what to ask.

Power, cooling and security are naturally important across the board. Stories of major outages at data centres are the stuff of nightmares for most IT managers. It is important to be aware that behind the headline claims, not every data centre facility has sufficient redundancy or adequate provisions to ensure appropriate resilience on which your business can rely.

Based on past experience, existing users of co-lo frequently include service and support as key differentiators. Their priorities are often reflected in the service levels they seek – things such as making sure that the resilience can be trusted to perform, that the monitoring, management and maintenance of the facility is thorough, that remote hands engineering services can be called upon, that support is available when needed and that any issues can be resolved efficiently if they arise. What’s most important is knowing their provider won’t leave them in the dark, or leave their infrastructure and their data vulnerable.

Once all the boxes have been ticked and your choice of data centre is almost complete, what about the move itself? It can be easy to overlook parts of the process, so it’s worth considering the following points (complete with the analogy of moving house):

  • What’s the neighbourhood like?
    Considerations such as the condition of the area and nearby buildings. Neighbourhood security is important too. Are the houses secure? Is the street well lit?
  • Easy access to the entrances of the property:
    Getting access to the address is a must. So how easy is it to access? Are access points blocked? Is there shared access with anyone? Is it step-free? Do you have the moving trolleys available?
  • Sound structure:
    With any house move, you’d get a survey to ensure the building is safe, secure and will stand the test of time – so what about your data centre? What standards has it been built to and what are the maintenance schedules and provisions?
  • Damage during the move:
    On move day, boxes are loaded, packed and unpacked. There’s plenty of scope for damage to goods along the way- and with a precious cargo of servers and switches, it’s essential to get the best movers for the job. In some instances, additional insurance cover can be offered to mitigate the risk.
  • Where are the facilities, utilities, sockets and power points and are there enough?
    It’s essential you know where your kit will be located, and whether you’ve got all of it in the right location. When you move, the switch has to be seamless and safe – with no trailing wires, packing paper, boxes and other trip or fire hazards around.
  • How do we get the power on?
    If you’ve ever moved, you’ll know it’s always fun making sure the electricity, gas and internet are switched on and ready. You probably have no idea where the fuse box is and if the stopcock isn’t under the sink, you are lost. When it comes to moving into a data centre, you need to get it right. Will someone be on hand to help and guide you?
  • Where are all the essentials?
    Have you packed your essentials box before you leave? When moving house, it’s having milk, teabags and loo roll on hand, with a data centre move it’s security passes, access information, and facility map. Do you know who can help if your forget anything?
  • One trip or two, professional movers or DIY:
    There are choices you can make and these depend on budget and level of skill and expertise. Professional movers take the stress and ensure the piano is not dropped down the staircase. The speed and consideration of arranging the logistics and ensuring safe transit is a strong motivation to use specialist movers. It’s too easy to overrun and too high risk if you do-it-yourself.

Datum’s key differentiator, over and above our state-of-the-art, purpose built facilities, is the enhanced service that we provide to our clients to ensure that the Datum co-location story is a positive experience with a happy ending. Emblematic of this approach, the Datum Concierge Service is designed to make planning and moving as smooth as possible right the way from pre-contract and pre-deployment, to the actual transition and migration, and on through the life of the client-provider partnership.

Why not ask us about making your move smoother? Contact us today

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