Selecting a data center or colocation provider is a big decision for your business. After all, you'll be housing your mission-critical infrastructure within someone else's facility. Before you make a selection there are a number of criteria you should take into account. This list isn't intended to be the definitive list of questions for every business, but it's a good starting point. You can use these criteria as the basis for your search or your data center RFP.
Location is one of the most important factors involved when selecting a data center for several reasons. The first thing to take into consideration is how easily someone from your company can get to the physical location. If you ever need to upgrade, or service your equipment this is a huge consideration (think about how costly having equipment down for an extended period of time could be). You should also take into account how prone the area is to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Hopefully, the data center provider took these things into account when they built the facility, but it never hurts to take extra precautions with your critical infrastructure. The last factor to consider is something we'll get into more when we talk about ecosystem, but you want to know that there is plenty of power available and lots of fiber paths going to and from the building.
2. Flexibility and Expansion Capability (Scalability)
As stated in the previous section, you want your provider to be able to meet your needs now and for at least several years following your selection. That being said, different data center providers offer different levels of flexibility. Some will provide out of the box solutions that may or may not meet your needs. While other providers will offer more customized solutions (flexibility), in addition to the more standard offerings.
Find out the availability of additional space, power and connectivity. Don't hinder your business by choosing a provider that can't scale with you over time.
Reliability is key when choosing a data center or colo provider. Reliability is measured as uptime in the world of data centers. A reliable provider should have five 9s uptime, meaning they are reliable at least 99.999% of the time. Shameless plug, CoreSite has a portfolio performance of six 9s (99.9999%) uptime and a 100% uptime SLA. Other things to look for are staff certifications, customer feedback, and on-site support (vs. outsourced).
4. Deployment Efficiency
How fast do you need your infrastructure up and running? How quickly do you think you'll need a new cross connect or additional rack space in the future? Most businesses want their new space set up as quickly and efficiently as possible. Deployment efficiency can be difficult quantify into a specific stat or number, but make sure your potential vendors clearly communicate timelines to you.
5. Network Ecosystem
One of the biggest advantages of colocation is the ability to interconnect within a shared data center space. Whether you want to connect with partners, distributors or even competitors for peering, interconnection can bring great value to your business. Before making a selection, learn about the available connectivity options. Is the facility carrier-neutral? Do they have a large ecosystem of customers already interconnecting with each other?
6. Lemming Effect
A good overall indicator for anyone looking for data center or colocation space is to get an idea of how many providers are in the area. Odds are, that if many providers have built facilities in the same area that area is geographically hospitable, has good network connectivity, and reliable utility services to provide power and water.
7. Financial Stability
Take the financial stability of the provider into account. You don't want to spend a lot of time and money investing in a data center that closes within a few years. Ideally your data center should be able to support you for at least 5 years if not longer. You can look at press releases, financial reporting, and financial history to get an idea of how viable the company is.