7 Things You Need to Know When Choosing a Data Center Partner

Yogesh Malik

Today there are over 7,000 data center providers worldwide.[i] Many of these, even the largest players, focus on different market strategies such as hyperscale, wholesale, colocation, retail, or managed services, making it difficult to compare apples to apples.

Knowing what to look for can help you choose the best data center partner for your organization for your current and future needs. Here are seven things to consider:

1. Location

You may need access to multiple data centers across different strategic locations for large IT deployments, business continuity / disaster recovery or to get closer to employees, customers and partners. A data center facility with favorable environmental and socioeconomic conditions can mean lower overall operating risk and better efficiency. Proximity to stable energy sources, network connectivity and industry partners within the same data center or campus is also essential. Key questions to ask include:

  • What is the provider’s data center footprint?
  • Where could I place redundant infrastructure for mission critical applications?
  • What are the characteristics for this location and how do each of these affect data center operations?
    – Climate (temperature, weather patterns, natural disasters)
    – Regulatory and market conditions
    – Supporting local infrastructure – transportation, communication, energy etc.

We know how much location matters and work to ensure that our data centers are in the strategic locations our customers need to be, while also taking local conditions into account.  Our 210+ Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers are interconnected physically and virtually across 55 metros, enabling you to deploy your digital infrastructure in the locations you need to reach. And we continue to expand, making more locations available on-demand. Recent additions and expansions include Canada, Mexico and Warsaw, with more to come later this year.

2. Power and cooling

Redundant power and cooling are critical for keeping the lights on. According to Uptime Institute’s latest data center survey, a single outage can cost over $1 million and power loss is the biggest cause for outages.[ii] Data centers can also run quite hot, so it’s important to ensure that adequate cooling systems are in place. Ideally redundancy is established through a multiple path configuration so if one system has a complete failure, the other can take over. Questions to ask include:

  • What are the primary and backup sources of power and cooling for the data center?
  • How clean and renewable are the energy sources?
  • How is power redundancy established and tested?
  • In the event of a disaster, how long can the data center continue running with the backup power on-site?
  • What is the average and peak load usage?
  • How much capacity is there for growth in usage?
  • How is temperature controlled in the data center? Is cold and hot aisle containment or water or free air cooling leveraged?
Up to $1 million

A single outage can cost over $1 million and power loss is the biggest cause for outages.

Our approach to power and cooling is focused on reliability, redundancy and innovative cooling. Our facilities are built with full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems with N+1 redundancy levels and backup generator systems in the event of a local utility failure. In case of a power outage, batteries turn on immediately, followed within 8 seconds by the generators, which can power the entire data center if needed. Cooling is an essential part of keeping customer equipment operating at its peak, so each Equinix IBX data center also houses a multicomponent temperature control system running 24/7. Depending on the location, this could include cooling innovations such as deep lake water cooling, free air cooling, cold-aisle containment and more. Check out these blogs my colleagues have written on redundant power and sustainable design.

IDC recognized Equinix as a leader in colocation and interconnection services

Read this competitive assessment of nine interconnection and colocation service vendors to complement your understanding of key benefits of critical infrastructure provider Equinix.

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idc

3. Connectivity, neutrality and ecosystems

Even a top-notch data center with all the latest design innovations won’t garner as much value as one with a thriving ecosystem of service providers and enterprise partners. According to IDC, the best colocation providers “will offer a wide range of network providers, internet exchange (IX) facilities, and access to major cloud providers.”[iii] Because carrier-neutral data centers tend to be places where many providers and enterprises aggregate and interconnect IT services and resources, they provide greater flexibility and cost efficiencies. A wide variety of connectivity and cloud options to choose from make it easy to create hybrid multicloud infrastructures that avoid vendor lock-in. Key questions to ask include:

  • How is this data center connected to where I do business?
  • How are the data centers interconnected on a metro, regional, national and global scale?
  • Is there direct access to global subsea cable routes?
  • What network carriers, clouds and enterprises would I have access to in this data center?
  • Could I bring in my own network carrier?
  • How can I connect to multiple provider for redundancy while avoiding the public internet?
  • Is software-defined connectivity available and can those connections be created on demand?

From the beginning, we have been the neutral place for traffic exchange, both public and private. The world’s leading networks have built and connected their infrastructures inside our IBX data centers, and today Equinix Internet ExchangeTM offers our customers access to the largest global internet peering solution serving more than 30 markets.

As a vendor neutral platform, our IBX data centers are also home to rich ecosystems of clouds and enterprises across many sectors. On Platform Equinix®, you can connect physically and virtually to more than 1,800 networks, 2,900 cloud and IT service providers and 9,700 enterprises. For example, Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) enables you to directly, securely and dynamically connect distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems on Equinix’s global platform via software-defined interconnection across 45+ locations. You can also instantly deploy and connect virtual network services via Network Edge, network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure on Platform Equinix.

As a vendor neutral platform, our IBX data centers are home to rich ecosystems of clouds and enterprises across many sectors. On Platform Equinix®, you can connect physically and virtually to more than 1,800 network, 2,900 cloud and IT service providers and 9,700 enterprises

4. Security and facility access

Data centers are at the heart of modern business, and protecting the data and equipment within them is of the utmost importance. Advanced security measures could include layered security zones, biometric access, camera and surveillance systems. One way to assess a data center’s security is to find out what the process is for getting a vendor on-site to replace parts in case of a critical failure. Be sure to include questions such as:

  • How does the data center provider keep its data center secure?
  • What are the security procedures for gaining access to my equipment and receiving deliveries, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • If I need to get a vendor on-site for an emergency repair and they are not on my authorized list, what is the process to get them access to my equipment?
  • How are access logs maintained?
  • Are security cameras installed at all major entrances and monitored 24/7?

As a leader in our industry, we take security seriously. Visitors to our facilities will see expert personnel, advanced security equipment, techniques and procedures actively controlling and monitoring access to our IBX data centers. You typically pass through five security checkpoints that include 24/7 manned security stations, mantraps and biometric readers, and our low-profile building design allows a high level of security within the data center. Inbound and outbound shipments are also subject to security checks and processes and must be scheduled in advance. We operate to the letter and provide access to our Global IBX data center policies. Additionally our concern and care for workers supporting the facilities is a top priority for us, and you can learn about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including how we have adapted to maintain our ongoing commitment to our customers, partners, and each other.

5. SLAs, uptime, compliance and certifications

When vetting potential data center partners, one of the most important things to consider is the service levels they commit to as well as their track record. Service level agreements (SLAs) of 99.99% are common but the data center may track to much higher uptime. Audits and certifications provide an independent assessment of a data center’s reliability, security and regulatory compliance. The latter is particularly crucial for industries such as health, financial and government. Key questions to ask include:

  • What is the data center provider’s SLAs and what remedies are offered if the SLA is not met?
  • How much downtime has this facility experienced in the last five years?
  • What certifications does this data center have and do they meet the legal requirements for my industry?
  • Are the certifications current and renewed regularly?

We take a multifaceted approach to ensure we are providing the quality of service that customers expect from a leading data center provider. IBX site architecture incorporates design redundancy for critical infrastructure, complemented by proven operational andmaintenance practices. Regular audits by independent accredited bodies are conducted to ensure our infrastructure certifications and our own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are maintained. This requires strict compliance with regulatory, legal and best practice responsibilities required of a leading data center provider. As a result, our IBX data centers have an industry-leading track record of 99.9999% average global uptime.

IDC recognized Equinix as a leader in colocation and interconnection services

Read this competitive assessment of nine interconnection and colocation service vendors to complement your understanding of key benefits of critical infrastructure provider Equinix.

Download Now
IDCMarketScapeGraphic
99.9999%

Our IBX data centers have an industry-leading track record of 99.9999% average global uptime.

6. Support, services and monitoring

Once you have selected a data center partner, you may need help with the installation, implementation or migration of your equipment and IT services. And, once you’ve deployed your IT infrastructure, you will need to monitor and maintain it. You can’t be on-site to manage all possible alerts and events, so it’s essential to understand what kind of monitoring tools and remote support the data center provides. Areas to cover include:

  • What kind of support is available for my installation and ongoing maintenance and is it available 24/7/365?
  • What kind of training and technical qualifications/certifications do the site engineers have?
  • What services do they provide, for example, can they procure and install parts?
  • How can I monitor my equipment and what kind of reports can I pull?
  • Is it possible to see one single view across my multi-site deployment?
  • Could I integrate my own reporting tool and pull additional data for further insights?

In our experience, customers trust us to provide expertise and advice, and need varying degrees of support services and tools, depending on their goals and capabilities they have on-staff. To address these needs, we provide a wide range of support including:

Equinix Infrastructure Services (EIS) combine our data center expertise with the skills and scale of certified technology partners worldwide to address customer needs for IT infrastructure design and installation. This includes custom design, procurement and installation of equipment, implementation and data center migration.

Equinix Smart Hands® provides around the clock technician support for your data center equipment. Smart Hands offers flexible support plans and can be used to perform regular operational tasks such as patching, hardware resets, equipment swap outs and troubleshooting.

IBX® SmartViewTM, our data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tool, provides on-demand visibility into your digital operations. You can access real-time operating data specific to your IBX data center footprint including power draw, environmental, mechanical and electrical information via the Equinix Customer Portal and IBX SmartView APIs.


7. Scalability and innovation

Your IT infrastructure needs to grow over time as your business expands. Consider how the data center can meet your current needs for space and power, as well as how quickly it can scale up to meet your future needs within the same location as well as other locations. Make sure to address areas such as:

  • What do I need to deploy now and how will that change over time? (Capacity, power, cooling)
  • Is the data center operating at capacity or is there room for expansion?
  • Does the data center provider have the financial strength and access to capital to continue expanding in the geographies that will help my business grow?
  • How quickly can the data center provider scale to meet my requirements?
  • How is the provider leading the industry in terms of data center innovations, automation and leveraging emerging technologies?

At Equinix, we are always looking ahead for our customers. Our IBX data centers are designed to meet the highest standards of security, compliance, reliability and sustainability. Ninety percent of customers say they’d recommend us to their peers – and they back up their endorsements with repeat business.

You can also read about our green design innovations, how Equinix application programming interfaces (APIs) are helping our customers accelerate their digital transformation, as well as our recent 5G and AI initiatives with key partners.

To learn more about how Equinix is leading the industry, download the 2019-2020 IDC MarketScape for colocation and interconnection services.

 

[i] Cloudscene, Cloudscene Announces H2, 2019 Data Center Ecosystem Leaderboard Rankings, Jan 30 2020.

[ii] Uptime Institute, Annual Data Center Survey Results, 2019.

[iii] IDC, Marketscape Report, Worldwide Colocation and Interconnection Services 2019 – 2020 Vendor Assessment, 2019.

 

Your IT infrastructure needs to grow over time as your business expands. Consider how the data center can meet your current needs for space and power, as well as how quickly it can scale up to meet your future needs within the same location as well as other locations.
Yogesh Malik
Yogesh Malik Senior Solutions Architect Senior Solutions Architect