A colocation service provider takes on a lot of costs and risks in order to provide clients with the best in service. Data centers can be incredibly large, and of course a reputable colocation provider will only secure a location that features great connectivity, temperate weather and minimal natural disasters—which means a relatively expensive location. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of data centers is expanding in leaps and bounds. According to a representative of BRUNS-PAK, Mark Evanko, “What we are seeing is the total cost of ownership of a data center, such as the design-build, colocation, cloud, disaster recovery and network costs need to be considered, and you also need to consider the associated risk elements.”
BRUNS-PAK is a leading creator of solutions for IT professionals, facilities and others who are in need of data centers. Evanko is presenting the “basics” of owning a data center at the Las Vegas Data Center World Conference held April 19-23. With so many critical security issues popping up, it has become more important than ever for data centers to features the best in security without giving up any other features (like 24/7 support). “It’s not all design or build, or colocation or cloud,” he says.
Considerations for Operators and Owners
There is a laundry list of items people should consider when trusting their servers to a colocation’s data center. However, there are even more considerations for the owners and operators of the data centers. The infrastructure of the facility should match the needs of the company. It should also be energy efficient, and not just for the good karma of lightening carbon footprints. Data centers can be huge energy sucks, and the utility bills alone can take down a newish data center.
The kind of computer hardware featured is something that can make or break the quality and security of a business. Data centers may need to weigh the pros and cons of private vs. public cloud to find what suits them best. A disaster recovery plan should be in place before the data center is complete, and be re-visited at least once per year. Then there are issues of migration, software, modular scalability and network costs. Don’t forget also about service level agreements, personnel, the question of CAPEX or OPEX, consulting design engineers and legal questions that you might have to contend with. However, data security remains the biggest concern of all.
There have been many reports over security breaches in the past year, and no matter who’s to blame customers entrust their security to their data center provider. There are lawsuits being filed left and right, with The New York Times reporting on the Target breach that, “A federal judge…gave preliminary approval to a $10 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by customers of Target, which experienced an online attack involving confidential customer data during the holiday season in 2013.” This may not sound like it has much to do with data centers—but it does.
In fact, Evanko says that using third party services, such as colocation providers, can make the odds of a data breach more likely. “Colocation becomes in vogue. There’s no thinking, you are going outside, and you are not tying up capital. It seems it is without the risk element. However, when an enterprise’s data is at a third-party provider, the liability of the third-party provider for damages is zero.” This doesn’t mean it’s better to house your servers yourself, since nobody can compete with the security of a data center. It does, however, mean that people are becoming more knowledgeable about risk and TCO.
Evanko is quick to point out, “I am not against colo or cloud. It’s right for a temporary app or non-critical data, but maybe you should keep the ‘crown jewels’ at home.” That’s fantastic advice, assuming the company could actually afford to house and manage servers themselves. The reality is that it’s just not in the wheelhouse for anyone but the most lucrative of companies.
Getting to Know Your Colo
A bigger issue with the security of colocation providers is that many people don’t do their research. There are well over 1,000 colocation providers in the US alone, and the quality is not the same across the board. Going with a local provider with a solid reputation is critical, and that may take some review comparison and even an in-person tour of the facility.
However, with major breaches becoming more regular, it is well worth the added effort.