By Kevin Goodman & Petar Bojovic
Today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technology landscape requires a company to build an association with a complete end-to-end facility-based solutions provider with a range of products for the data center to maximize network performance, energy efficiency, and capacity for today and tomorrow’s demands.
Our team at BlueBridge Networks over the next several months will write about technology and how companies can work to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in a web- and data-centric world. Over the past 11 years, we have emerged as a state and regional leader in data storage, becoming the first-of-its-kind Ohio-based data center facility, with facilities on different national power grids. With data center cloud-computing facilities in Cleveland, Mayfield Heights, and Columbus, Ohio, BlueBridge has launched data center services, cloud computing, and infrastructure solutions across its networks. We will work to share the insights we have gained to help your companies and institutions compete in a global marketplace.
BlueBridge has grown both in size and capabilities since its formation in January 2004. We are in the business of keeping businesses and institutions in business through multiple data center services. BBN is about best-in-class data centers in which high availability, reliability and security are paramount.
Statistics take their inevitable toll — when one grid is down, the other is typically still up. It is a terrific form of risk mitigation. One of the primary focuses we have as a facilities-based operator is removing as many known single points of failure as possible from our landscape or equation.
Data centers should focus on providing the highest standards for uptime, quality, and service. Another driving factor for its success is a vital need to remain strong and competitive in order to stand out in a big box of commodities, while reducing hops and distance to additional fiber. Clients should look to a data center to improve and enhance its compliance essentials in order to meet strict industry regulations such as HIPAA and others. In a web- and data-centric world, the responsibility we have as stewards of our clients’ lifeblood is huge.
BlueBridge connected its Cleveland and Columbus data centers for cabinet space, redundant A+B power, and access to additional dedicated point-to-point circuits between Cleveland and Columbus. BBN gained the ability to compete effectively with regional players operating local or national facilities with the opportunity to be in an equal or better facility than our own data centers. BlueBridge promises a 100 percent uptime environment, as evidenced in the fact that customers have not experienced one outage. The sites are on separate national power grids 3 Columbus vs. the national grid 2 in Cleveland. This offers BBN true failover, with two geographically diverse locations backing up each other, benefiting its customers with an extremely robust power and network infrastructure only few Ohio companies enjoy.
Not all data centers are created equal. This is an unfortunate lesson learned by many business owners. However, let’s first discuss what a data center is and why it is important to your company’s success and longevity. A data center is a purpose-built facility that houses your critical data, pretty plain and simple. The size of your company does not matter — businesses with one employee to a multi-national, worldwide organization – we ALL have critical data that must be accessible, secure, and always available. However, based on your needs and requirements for uptime, availability and security, that is where data center services can become complex.
Some companies have an internal IT closet and consider that sufficient enough for their needs, albeit their business-related data and hardware are located in an unsecured, easily accessible location with no redundant systems in place. For a business owner, that is a risky proposition, as any downtime can be catastrophic to your business and brand.
Most businesses realize at some point in time, whether through trial and error, personal pain, loss of customers or external governing requirements, that they will need to house their primary and/or secondary critical data and services at a multi-tenant data center. That sounds simple, although not all data centers are created equal. If you’ve ever toured a big 15,000-square-foot- or bigger data center, it can be very overwhelming. Security procedures just to get in the front door, loud buzzing of servers, storage and network equipment, rows and rows of cabinets, blinking lights, the whoosh of cool air, cages, cameras, cabling galore. Wow – since most data centers look very similar from afar, what is one to do?
This is where the business owner must perform some due diligence and make sure their business needs and requirements align to the products and services the data center is providing. How? Well, here are some key areas of interest that would factor into your decision:
- Products and services — Does the data center provide leased space only or other services, such as cloud computing, security services, disaster recovery, and business continuity, etc. Have a good understanding of what they can do but also understand what they won’t do. This is very important to understand the line of delineation. When you, the business owner, is experiencing an issue, you want the line of delineation. When you, the business owner, is experiencing an issue, you want to make sure that all roles and responsibilities are clearly defined with no ambiguity, thus increasing your mean time to being operational.
- Power — Ask questions on power design, redundancies, and uptime. The data center should have detailed information on all aspects of the power distribution and infrastructure.
- Network — This item at times may be overlooked. Does the data center provide Internet services with multiple carriers for increased availability and redundancy? Does the data center only provide connections directly to Telco carriers? Understand costing for these connections, as these charges can add up.
- Preventive maintenance — This item is critically important. I’ve learned at an early age in business, that you want to make sure the company “does what is says.” A good way is to ask for records or maintenance, notifications, and repair. Keep in mind mechanical systems will fail. There is no way around that fact; however, understanding the redundancies in place and proactive approach can benefit business owners and ultimately their customers.
- Contracts and SLA — Please review all T&Cs and SLAs and negotiate terms if you feel uncomfortable. A multi-tenant data center should work with you in crafting a service and conditions that work for you. Let’s face it: All companies act differently, think differently, and most importantly are different. You should align yourself with a partner that is flexible.
- Certification — Make sure the data center follows industry-recognized certifications and stays current.
- References — This one is a no brainer; however, ask for both current and past customers as references. Know its track record. It should be a long-standing history of operational excellence.
Careful and detailed due diligence will allow you to grow a partnership with a data center that can prove to be a brand advantage and differentiate your business in the marketplace. The goal can and should be to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and serve as an augmentation of your staff and its objectives.
Kevin Goodman is the managing director, partner with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data center business. Petar Bojovic is the firm’s director of operations. They can be reached at (216) 621-2583 [email protected], kevinjgoodman.com, and bluebridgenetworks.com.
Link to CBC Magazine Article: http://cbcmagazine.com/2015/09/17/the-how-and-why-of-choosing-a-data-center/