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How to choose the right data center service provider for your needs

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By Prashant Pereira, Vice President, Data Center Services, Sify Technologies

During the COVID-19 pandemic organizations found it increasingly challenging to operate their internal data centres because of issues with scalability, break/fix support, and manpower needs for operations and maintenance. As a result, numerous organizations transferred some of their applications to public clouds and their own data centre to a colocation provider. In addition to the essential infrastructure and cutting-edge technology, today’s powerhouse data centres also offer sophisticated data analytics and automation capabilities. They provide a wide range of benefits, including assistance for corporate expansion, business continuity, decreased Capex/Opex, flexible engagement models, enhanced end-customer experience, and rapid digital transformation.

To cater to the varied needs of its clients, data centre service providers often offer a broad spectrum of services, including on-premises solutions, colocation options, wholesale, and retail offerings, hyperscale capabilities, as well as specialized offerings like built-to-suit (BTS) data centers, green data centers, and comprehensive managed services. Businesses can discover specialized solutions that fit their unique requirements and preferences, based on respective business goals and digital aspirations. It’s critical to pick the best data centre service provider who can offer these integrated services.

However, while choosing the right data centre solution for your brand, there are a few factors to consider, with Scalability being the first and key considerations. Rack space is a critical and limited commodity for many service providers. In the process of selecting a world-class data center provider, it is essential to consider their capacity to build campuses capable of accommodating 8,000+ racks and offering 50 MW IT capacity. By choosing such a provider, businesses can effectively plan their scale-up within their preferred campus location. Moreover, these businesses can benefit from a robust support/service stack and comprehensive monitoring of the data centre infrastructure.

Secondly, prioritizing data centres with robust security measures is crucial. At the very least, IT infrastructure protection must be provided, including data security through encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection, and prevention. In addition to surveillance cameras and security personnel, your data centre service provider should also have multiple layers of physical security from the perimeter wall to the cage, including mantraps, turnstiles, and biometric access control. This will prevent unauthorized people from entering secure areas or gaining access to confidential data.

Thirdly, evaluating the network connectivity is a key factor to consider. Select a data centre provider with strong network connectivity, that includes a variety of internet service providers (ISPs) supplying IP transit nodes, multi-cloud connectivity etc. To ensure seamless connectivity and resilience, data centres should have a minimum of three to four fibre entry pathways into the building. Additionally, the availability of low-latency cloud on-ramp services, makes it possible to connect to public cloud applications quickly and directly. These elements work together to build a strong, effective, high-performing, and well-connected framework for data centres.

While it comes to validation of business certifications and service level agreements (SLAs) cannot be overstated. As Certifications from industry authorities are highly desirable as they validate the provider’s adherence to industry best practices, process reliability, and security standards. The ideal data centre is a tier-3 one that possesses ISO 27001, ISO 20000, PCI-DSS, SoC 1, SoC 2, ISO 1400, and ISO 50000 certifications.

Additionally, data centers with resourceful experts along various functions can prove to be instrumental in managing diverse workloads. Since an extensive cross-industry experience gives the centre the ability to address the unique requirements of various sectors, such as finance or healthcare.

In the current business scenario, predominant organizations have committed to ESG goals, such as carbon neutrality, waste reduction and power conservation. In this context, it becomes important to choose a data center provider that is invested in renewable energy, achieved by signing Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). While Solar and wind power are increasingly viable options for clean energy, by choosing a data center service provider that adopts sustainable measures including renewable power, energy-efficient equipment, and practices, will help your business attain environmental goals while benefiting from competitive energy costs. Adherence to safety practices, rules and regulations are also key ESG considerations. In that vein, leading green data center service providers actively invest in transparent, environmentally conscious, and ethical business practices, completely adhering to local and global regulations, and outperforming competition when it comes to sustainability, corporate social responsibility and people practices.

Further to keeping green power as a prime factor, it is crucial to consider the footprint of the center. Data centers are strategically located in multiple regions ensure low latency and high-speed network connections, enabling efficient data transmission and an improved user experience. A widespread presence allows data centers to establish diverse network routes and redundancy, minimizing the risk of network failures or disruptions. In order to have seamless integration with leading cloud platforms, offering flexible hybrid cloud solutions and enhanced performance, Hyperscale partnerships are pivotal. Henceforth ensure to choose a service provider that banks on the power of partnerships and leverages the sharing of expertise and resources to stay at the forefront of technological advancements.

Automation powered by AI/ML is becoming increasingly crucial in the development of innovations that optimize operations, reduce expenses, enhance performance, increase reliability and sustainability, and elevate service quality. Operations are further strengthened by the incorporation of AI/ML in vendor performance assessment and SLA monitoring, including measures like MTTR and MTBF.

Lastly, it is crucial to select a data center service provider with adequate backup and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities as it is essential to consider the risk of natural disasters. such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or wildfires. Henceforth it is pivotal to be mindful to Select a location with minimal disastrous risk to ensure the safety and longevity of your IT infrastructure. This ensures that in the occurrence of an unforeseen incident, the data center can quickly recover operations with the least or no data loss.

While these criteria will provide you a solid reliable framework for comparison, allow yourself to base your final choice on the business’s specific objectives. It is important to note that there is no there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to choosing a data center service provider.

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