If you have never been tasked with vetting a data centre before, it can be hard to know where to begin. The following guide will help first-time customers to properly vet a data centre before entrusting them with their valuable data.
What Is Their Security Like?
If you are going to be entrusting your valuable data to third parties, you want to be certain that they are going to handle it appropriately. A lax or neglectful approach to security can leave your data exposed and lead to breaches and leaks that can be hugely damaging to your business’s reputation and cause serious issues for your customers. For example, if a data centre is storing your files unencrypted on a publicly-accessible server protected only by a basic login system, it’s only going to be a matter of time before someone finds a way in.
Data breaches can often seem like abstract problems that have little to no impacts on our actual lives. But there have been numerous instances of data breaches leading to cases of identity theft or fraud using personal information gleaned from data stolen in hacks.
If your sensitive data leaks because your data centre doesn’t have proper security in place, your customers are going to hold you responsible. It’s important to establish the security credentials of any data centre long before you entrust them with important data. Modern data centres should have robust security infrastructure and the resources to upscale in real-time in response to live threats.
Where Are They Located?
The location of a data centre is important in two respects - its proximity to your business and customers and the local climate that it operates in.
Proximity will affect the rate of data transfer between you and it, which can make a big difference for businesses that will be sending a constant high-volume of requests to their data centre. Regardless of the type of physical connection linking your business to the data centre, the speed of data transfer will begin to drop off sooner than you might think. For a copper connection, you only get 330 feet before you start paying a speed penalty for the distance between you and the data centre. With fibre connections, you get much more leeway, but speeds will still drop off after 25 miles.
The good news is that for a country as small as the UK, there are data centres in close proximity to most major cities. For example, Virtus Data Centres have data centres located throughout London. Their data centres can be found at Slough, Stockley Park, Hayes & Harlington, and Enfield. This gives them enough spread to serve businesses in and around London, many of whom will be within that 25-mile golden zone.
In many instances, businesses will want to be able to send their own IT staff to their data centre should the need arise. Choosing a data centre within a reasonable distance to your business will make this considerably easier.
The climate in the area where a data centre is located is also an important factor to consider. If the area is prone to natural disasters such as flooding, then you will need a data centre with redundancies and safeguards in place. If your business is located in an area prone to natural disasters, then it is a good idea to find a data centre that is on a different power grid. This means that if the power is knocked out of a severe weather event, your business will not be knocked down at the same time as your data centre.
Are They Reliable?
A data centre that cannot reliably stay online is no good for your business at all. Every data centre should have redundancies in place, ensuring that if there is a connection issue, it is automatically resolved for the user. The best data centres will use multiple automatic backups and be able to switch between them on the fly. This means that if there is a problem with the connection between the datacentres and your business, the data centres will automatically reroute your connection to a backup.
You should also have a look online for any user reviews or customer experience reports detailing exactly what it's like using the data centre provider you are considering. If you know any other businesses operating in the same industry, it might be worth asking them about their experiences with various providers.
What Is Their Capacity Limit?
Every data centre will have an upper limit on their capacity - if they want to continue to offer the best possible limits around, then they will need to periodically invest in upgrading their infrastructure. As with speeds, fibre optic connections are much better than copper ones.
Needless to say, a higher capacity limit is better. However, you should be realistic about how much data you will be exchanging with your data centre. If you are only going to be doing file transfers, you don’t need the same bandwidth as a business sending non-stop requests.
Taking the time to vet a data centre properly is essential. If yours or your customers’ data ends up in the public domain because of a mistake on the part of your data centre, your business will pay the reputational cost.