What to Know Before Taking a Data Center Tour - Expedient
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What to Know Before Taking a Data Center Tour

Touring a data center can be intimidating if you don’t know what to look for or what questions to ask. Many data centers will have the same basic components and the tours will begin to blend together if you aren’t asking the right questions. Also, do not be afraid to take notes while on data center tours. Colocating your physical gear or migrating to a cloud environment is a large undertaking and not something to take lightly.

Most data center tours will begin with a sales representative showing you around, escorting you through man traps, showing off cabinets in the data center floor, a peak at the UPS equipment and backup generators, going over the cooling system and maybe even a look into the operation center of the facility. So how do you truly differentiate and cut through the sales pitch? You need to ask certain questions, such as:

1.) What is your current track record of delivering 100% uptime?
Part of the sales pitch will be a provider’s SLA. Ask the data center provider to show proof of its uptime; don’t just take the provider’s word for it.

2.) How often do you have scheduled maintenance of the UPS, HVAC generators and applicable hardware supporting your environment, and will my systems be down during that maintenance?

Providers should have logs of this and be able to show those logs to you.

3.) Are you financially secure?
This protects you from having to migrate to another provider in a year or two in the event the colocation facility goes out of business. You do not want to be in a financially risky data center.

4.) What are your current capacity levels for electric and mechanical systems, and are you scalable for growth?
Make sure the provider is able to grow with you, not just in space or cabinet capability but the power to actually run the operation. Look for dual providers and backup generators and fuel providers as well. These are highly important as far as scalability and during outages or downtime.

5.) What is the biggest natural disaster risk that this location is susceptible to?
You need to know if you are close to a fault line if earthquakes are the biggest risk or how the data center can protect against flooding if that is a possible risk. Every data center, no matter its region has some risk, but certain areas are inherently safer than others. Make sure you fully understand how the provider takes efforts to protect against such risk or if it has the ability to offer services to help mitigate downtime in the event of a disaster. If the provider has a good protection plan in place, then some calculated risk could be worth it.

6.) Can you walk me through what you would do in the event of an outage?
This question is a great indicator of the provider’s disaster plan and the sales guy’s knowledge of what occurs. You want everyone with access to your data to know how, when and where to execute a plan.

Now you are armed with the questions to ask prior to taking a data center tour. The more knowledge you have going in, the better equipped you will be to make a decision after visiting a few centers. In addition, the answers to these questions can help you narrow down the number of colocation providers you need to visit in person. Schedule your tour for one of Expedient’s data centers today.

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