Most colocation providers invest a lot of money in their data centres when it comes to technology. From our experience, however, they occasionally fail to recognise how aspects of data centre design and maintenance can impact their usability and resilience. Here, we explore three of the most common mistakes that colocation providers make, and how you can spot them.
1. Access and logistical problems
Man-traps, biometric scanners and perimeter fences are just a few of the many security measures you’ll find in the average data centre. However, while it’s easy to be impressed by a high-tech setup, you should be wary of signing on the dotted line before you review how this impacts on factors like accessibility and logistics.
If running a gauntlet of security measures to get inside your data centre takes longer than a few minutes, there’s a good chance it’ll have a detrimental effect to your business. After all, you may need to visit the building on a regular basis, resulting in a massive loss of productivity over time. Chances are, you’ll also want access to be as quick and simple as possible in a time of crisis.
Another design flaw you’ll find in some data centres is racks placed impractically far from the entrance. Having to lug your equipment all the way from the ground to the fifth floor isn’t ideal, or necessarily safe.
2. Cutting corners in cleaning
A data centre that isn’t cleaned to a high standard can result in damage and downtime for your infrastructure. As such, it’s important to ensure your colocation provider will pull out the stops to prevent problems like dirt, dust, rust and other forms of contamination. Ideally, choose one that enlists the help of a specialist contractor for regular deep-cleans.
You can also look at certifications for evidence of cleanliness and good house-keeping. For example, Teledata’s Manchester data centre is cleanroom-certified, meaning you can count on our air to be free of dust and other unwanted contaminants.
Also – at a more simplistic level, and quite aside from the operational importance of a clean environment – a ship-shape, spick-and-span facility is often a welcome indicator that the site (and organisation as a whole) is well run and orderly in general.
3. Inadequate environmental monitoring
Even a perfectly designed data centre can put your infrastructure at risk if the level of environmental monitoring isn’t high enough. For example, some colocation providers invest in expensive technology like state-of-the-art cooling and advanced fire protection, but still fail to monitor their air quality accurately.
According to ASHRAE, the recommended levels of humidity for a data centre are 60% RH and a dew point of 15° C. Too much variance or even small fluctuations outside of this range can result in permanent damage over time as the water vapour settles on the equipment.
While this isn’t something you can see in action, any reputable data centre will be able to show you air quality readings, normally taken by an external cleaning specialist. Naturally, it’s also a good idea to visit the data centre to see how many people are on-site to oversee the equipment, and get a feel for their level of diligence and experience.