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Thread: What to look for when picking a co-location provider, or data centre.

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by othelloRob View Post
    Is just a PR dream that really doesnt work.
    Err not true.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by othelloRob View Post
    IME the order of requirements, and the requirements themselves tend to vary by project...
    * network uptime
    * power uptime
    * cooling uptime
    * remote hands availability and capability
    * connectivity options (bgp, routed, cable type) etc
    * remote management options (serial-over-ip, kvmoip, power control) etc
    I would agree with this, but I would say that the order of the last two would depend on the level of your requirement.
    Michael Follett

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by othelloRob View Post
    Is just a PR dream that really doesnt work.
    yet ...

    energy = money. someone will find a way to monetise that energy, even if heat is a low-quality form of energy

    there has been talk about a DC tax, because it is one of the worst carbon emitters (not my words). saying "we turn lights off, we are green" isn't enough

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete-CCS View Post
    Err not true.
    Excluding comfort cooling for the staff (which is basic thermal management)
    20deg above ambient is not a useful enough amount of 'heat' to be of any real practical use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce View Post
    there has been talk about a DC tax, because it is one of the worst carbon emitters (not my words). saying "we turn lights off, we are green" isn't enough
    It's much 'greener' to have your server in a DC than your office, many DC's run on renewables, and power is already 'taxed' up the ying-yang - any talk about a DC tax is headline-grabbing soundbite rubbish which will do nothing except force the last remaining UK industry off to Iceland

  5. #20
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    Power infrastructure

    For me this is the single most important factor. Loss of power can be devastating for equipment and the data that it contains. Even a brief blip will put you offline, and getting back online can mean replacing failed components, troubleshooting systems and applications that haven't started correctly, recovering corrupted data or restoring from backups.

    These days, we mandate a minimum of 2N UPS with diverse A+B feeds. I've seen too many N+1 systems fail when a single component shorts onto the shared bus or similar and knocks everything offline.

    Cooling infrastructure

    Cooling is a bit more forgiving than power - you've generally got a bit of time between power cooling being lost/reduced and temperatures rising past a critical level. High temperatures can cause massive problems, most equipment has thermal cutoffs to shut down automatically before overheating damages components, but you're still going to shorten the life of some components. Disk drives are particularly bad for this.

    Carrier neutrality

    Being tied into a single carrier can put you in a very bad position. If there are problems with the network, then you can't change carrier without physically moving your equipment, which is an expensive and disruptive process to say the least. You are also in quite a weak position when it comes to negotiating connectivity pricing - lack of competition generally means higher prices.

    Network connectivity options

    It's always worth doing a little investigation into how connectivity is supplied to a data centre. For example, some data centres claim to be carrier neutral, but the only way that networks can access the facility is over the facility's own backhaul network (be that at layer 1 or layer 2), so whatever happens you are paying them for access in and out of the facility (back to the lack of competition and potential impact on price) and if there is a problem with the backhaul network then everyone is offline. There's no point having two upstream providers if they share a common single point of failure.

    Physical access is another thing - how many fibre providers are there on site and how diverse are the ducts, both as they leave the building and once they get down the street. Also, where do the ducts go? It's no use if they all end up at the same building, as now you've got another potential single point of failure.

    Physical location

    The most obvious thing here is that if you need to access your equipment, how far away is the facility, how long will it take you to get there and is there anything nearby which could potential affect this (big shopping centres, football stadiums etc.). For example, Node4 in Derby is right next to the Pride Park stadium and so access in and out of the facility can be a nightmare when football matches are on.

    Location also has a big impact on cost, power capacity, the number of truly diverse networks available and latency.

    Remote hands/Intelligent hands

    This goes hand in hand with physical location - if your staff can't get there quickly, then are there people on site who can do work for you? Are they there 24x7? How fast do the staff respond and how much do they cost?

    Another important aspect to consider is what work will the remote/intelligent hands staff do for you? At some facilities the remote hands will only do basic tasks such as moving cables and rebooting servers, whilst others are happy to swap failed components and rack new servers for you etc.

    Physical security

    A lot of data centres are in old office buildings, particularly in London and Manchester. This often means that they don't have a perimeter fence for example or even share the building with other tenants. How does this affect access to your equipment? Can someone drive a van through the wall of the building for example? How many layers of access control are there between the front door and your rack(s)? Have they got good internal and external CCTV coverage that's actively monitored by security?

    There's also the fire detection and suppression to consider - do they use an appropriate system which won't cause damage to electronic equipment? Is it a double knock system (to prevent accidental discharge)?

    Certifications and accreditations
    Do you or your customers require the data centre to hold various certifications or accreditations?
    There are assorted ISO standards and British standards for quality management, security management, environment management, business continuity etc. which are quite popular. Some people also look for PCI-DSS certification. Then there's also the Government "Impact Level" accreditations (IL3/IL4/IL5).
    Freethought Internet
    Freethought Internet Limited registered in London No. 5862996. Registered office: The Old Church Hall, 2A Cromwell Street, Lincoln, LN2 5LP. VAT number GB 987 0952 66.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by othelloRob View Post
    Excluding comfort cooling for the staff (which is basic thermal management)
    Comfort cooling? We are talking about heating. We heat staff - it costs us nothing other than 1 x duct fan plus a couple of flap dampers. This replaces 2x35Kw gas boilers.

    20deg above ambient is not a useful enough amount of 'heat' to be of any real practical use.
    Not quite sure what you have been eating, but if you had a choice of sitting in a building at 4 degrees (outside here, therefore ambient if we had no heating on) or a very pleasant 20ish (controlled) in the offices, I know which I would take.


    Furthermore the building next door to us, which also pays to run a single duct fan (circa 1.5Kw for the record) have also all but turned off their underfloor heating in favour of free heat.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete-CCS View Post
    Furthermore the building next door to us ...
    like I said - warm up your friends. they like it this time of year. a sommerset DC would be interesting right now - drying out wet clothes

  8. #23
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    Solid power system and backup systems (UPS & Generator) would be one of my primary factors. The facility has got to be able to whether anything that the outside environment throws at it and stay up through it.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean View Post
    The pizza shop across the road is 9000% better!
    I second that Sean - miss having so many takeaways over the road at the new place!

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee[wildcard] View Post
    I second that Sean - miss having so many takeaways over the road at the new place!
    I shouldn't have stayed in the DC so long last night as we ended up with two pizzas from there again!

  11. #26
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    Having industry leading firewalls and DDOS protection technologies are must for a reliable DC, to not speak about power supplies , security , uptime and many other important things.
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  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by euro-space View Post
    Having industry leading firewalls and DDOS protection technologies are must for a reliable DC
    In ~20 years of having kit in datacentres I have never had anything connected to, or ever wanted anything connected to, a DC's firewall ...

    Perhaps you're thinking 'colo provider' rather than 'datacentre' in the most common UK uses of the terms ?

  13. #28
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    I mean both, and how would you survive if there're no hardware firewalls in front of your server(s)? or if provider doesn't offer a good ddos protection ?
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  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by euro-space View Post
    I mean both, and how would you survive if there're no hardware firewalls in front of your server(s)? or if provider doesn't offer a good ddos protection ?
    Most datacenters are carrier neutral, so have nothing to do with the connectivity that their tenants use...
    Freethought Internet
    Freethought Internet Limited registered in London No. 5862996. Registered office: The Old Church Hall, 2A Cromwell Street, Lincoln, LN2 5LP. VAT number GB 987 0952 66.

  15. #30
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    according to our experience, they do provide firewall, so it's up to you to pic it or not.. and if you're looking for a security hardening I guess it's a good idea to pic.
    Last edited by euro-space; 15th March 2014 at 09:43 PM.
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