Matching your expansion needs with the right data centre partner

By Mark Gaydos

Expansion can be one of the most exciting times for any SME. It validates the work you’re doing and proves that your product or service could change the world. However, it can also bring with it worries. Where will you move to? How many new employees should you employ? Where will you keep your most important asset – your data?

Finding the right data centre partner to not just house but protect your data can be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make so don’t take it lightly – ask the right questions.

Are they stable?

You will have definitive growth plans, so make sure that your partner can remain in business for a minimum of five – ten years in the future. Building a working relationship with a provider that can’t stand the test of time will damage your growth.

Start by looking at press releases, financial reports, customer retention levels and any financial history you can get your hands on. You should also ask current customers how they feel about their service and if they have heard anything through the data centre grapevine.

Remaining efficient

Ask your potential provider how fast they can have your infrastructure up and running. You might need it done almost immediately, or perhaps you have spare time. Either way, they should be able to work to your needs. If you’re also planning to grow again in the future, can they provide extra capacity while also having systems in place to monitor your asset’s life span, capacity and inventory as you grow?

To ensure they can, draw up service-level agreements (SLAs) and use these as a guide to proof – should you feel they are not sticking to what they promised.

Scale up, scale down

A provider worth working for should be able to downsize or upgrade depending on your needs. And not only now, but for years to come. Different providers will offer different levels of flexibility and it is important to investigate how each can match your criteria. Don’t cap your business’ growth by working with a provider that will not be able to handle your planned growth.

Location matters

When it comes to selecting a potential data centre or colocation provider, location is important. First, the provider must be within a commutable distance from you or your partners.

Secondly, research the area and how prone it is to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or storms. Natural disasters can strike at any moment and can have catastrophic impacts on businesses.

Finally, the provider must be in an area where it is supplied with ample power, with lots of Internet paths going to and from the facility. This will ensure that you can access your data when you require without having to worry about power outages.

Measuring for success

When entrusting your data to a new provider it is crucial they have a holistic view of your data. This can be achieved with a Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution offering the ability to have a single pane of glass view over your data.

With this information they can see the flow of data, identify whether you may need to expand or downgrade server and other physical assets as well as ensuring the equipment is being cooled – and much, much more. DCIM solutions also mean providers must match your agreed SLAs.

Picking the right data centre or colocation provider can be tough. With so many organisations touting their wares, it can feel like a data dead end. However, by using the above questions you will have a much better chance of navigating your way to a long and healthy partnership.

Mark Gaydos is Chief Marketing Officer for Nlyte Software