4th April 2017

Seeing through walls within a co-located data centre

Colocation is an essential technique in IT’s constant battle to maintain round-the-clock data availability. This increased resilience brings with it a range of new challenges that must be addressed. With key infrastructure off-site in a co-located data centre, how can you manage and monitor critical IT infrastructure efficiently as well as remotely?

Effective co-location management is built on three key principles:

  1. Monitor – Ensure that you have access to key metrics at every layer of the data centre.
  2. Analyse – With predictive analytics and manual checking, use the available information to identify and resolve potential issues early.
  3. Automate – To reduce administrative overheads and costs, implement automated load-balancing between data centres to protect operations.

With this framework in place, your organisation is well placed to begin extracting maximum value from co-located data centres. Let’s take a closer look at these three factors.

Monitoring the environment

Co-located data centre services are designed to reduce your own operational overheads – but a remote service means that you need additional monitoring capability. Choosing the right kind of monitoring is vital to properly understand the performance of infrastructure, servers and software.

Real-time monitoring is helpful, but predictive analytics tools are far more useful for co-located data centre services. Being able to collect performance data and alerts shows longer-term trends that indicate underlying problems. You can then schedule replacements or repairs that suit your timetable and minimise knock-on effects on business operations.

Server activity monitoring is also vital to ensure system performance is keeping up with user needs. Any productivity drop caused by misconfiguration or under-provisioning needs to be addressed quickly – otherwise, your failover and load-balancing mechanisms may fall too.

Managing the environment

As well as monitoring co-located equipment, you need tools and processes to manage them. Monitoring and analysis can reveal what is wrong, while automation can be employed to fix problems.

An integrated toolkit will allow you to collect performance data at the unit level, report at the site level, and apply automatic fixes wherever possible. Your management system also needs to be able to failover automatically in an emergency – and to transfer resources between physical assets for maximum availability and performance.

Ideally you want to make as few site visits to the colocation facility as possible, so the ability to automate remotely, or to employ reliable engineering services on-site is essential.

When it comes to the environment in which your infrastructure sites, your colocation provider should be able to provide you with a complete picture of how well everything is running with 24x7x365 performance metrics on items such as temperature, humidity, power usage and rack access.

Reporting on the environment

System alerts are undeniably useful, but only supply a small part of the overall picture. The reporting system should be able to gather data from all five levels of the data centre stack to provide a complete overview of operations.

Being able to access real time analytics is the most important, as well as the ability to process and act on them immediately. Along with disaster notifications, your reporting framework should consider other, less obvious factors. Your provider should supply you with power consumption metrics which not only help calculate running costs but are also a good indicator of server load, providing additional early warning of capacity and performance problems.

Reporting on colocation performance is also critical for efficiency and accountability. High quality metrics allow the IT team to prove they are doing their job effectively, and that the co-located data centre provider is also meeting their contractual obligations.

For businesses bound by strict regulations, like government and finance, accurate reporting will also prove invaluable for demonstrating compliance. Your CFO will also find it a lot harder to turn down budget requests when you can clearly demonstrate cost-to-value figures too.

Pulling it together in a co-located data centre

Despite the change in mindset required, managing your systems within a co-located data centre is not too different from the techniques you already use. Monitoring, analysis and automation are key to on-site support provisions – it’s now time to apply those same techniques to your off-site assets, ensuring that your colocation provider can deliver the breadth and quality of metrics you need.

Ready to learn more about the advanced monitoring and reporting from data centres? Contact us today.

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