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How to select a Datacenter?


Selecting a datacenter is no piece of cake. Knowledge of what exactly you need/would need, is quite vital in making this decision. That said, the choices can be quickly narrowed down to a handful of providers based on a few points given below(lets call it the first stage):

  The budget you have per server/hardware.

  The bandwidth costs, and overage charges

  The size, experience, and success of the DC(just google.. to find out about the DC)

  If the DC has the right technology to meet your requirements
  If the DC can deliver good speed(without latency) to your prospective customer base

The second stage is selecting the provider that suits you and your needs amongst the handful of providers you’ve short-listed. Mind you, this would take time and effort. The information you gather at this stage is critical and I believe – going after reviews in various forums would just be a wild goose chase.

Now, if you are looking for a co-location facility, there are quite a lot of concerning aspects apart from the ones that I list here. The list is more or less apt for a customer looking for servers – rent/lease.

The first experience with the provider:

The provider may have multiple means, by which you could contact them. I would say, you will have to contact them by all means they provide to reach them. Be it chat, phone or help-desk. You would mostly be getting in touch with the sales team of the provider. The sales person would mostly be well trained, and soft spoken(if they are not, well your job has been done!). We can safely assume that a provider who takes enough pain to hire and retain a good Sales Team, would take similar care in other aspects as well.

While conversing, you might make a check-list of a few aspects. The questions you ask yourself- Did you find the Sales Team.. :

  Smart, Friendly, Understanding and Helpful?  Knowledgeable, Persuasive and aware of Trends?

  Inquisitive, and Sure about the Solutions they provide?

  Well Mannered,Courteous and Honest?

The Level of Control you get over your hardware:

Just because a data center has all the right technology, doesn’t mean that they are the best you would get! Ease of management of the IT solutions is very important as well. Will you be happy contacting the DC and waiting for their support personnel to impart help for each and every need of your’s?

Here’s another set of questions, that you should be asking their Support/Sales Team:

  Can I reboot the server on my own?  Do I have to keep track of my bandwidth usage on my own?

  Will I get something like a KVM access?

  Can I group my servers to certain rack’s or vLAN’s?
  Is the server monitored? ….. And similar questions that forms your priority!

Does the DC make big mistakes? Have they learnt from their mistakes?:

How many of you would like to have a server in a DC that has had a long history of network outages and power outages?

If you check out the history of all major datacenters, you might very well see such hiccups in their past. However, what matters is – How they recoup from such a situation, and what measures they take to ensure the mistakes are not repeated. Going through various forums, and at times the forum of the very DC in question, will help you in this area.

Also looking at how the DC rolls out maintenance works, and how planned they are in approaching one, should give you a clearer picture. Here again, you might have to scan their forums. Many DC’s update maintenance schedules in their forums, so that the customers could provide these thread as references to” their customers”. You could also post questions in the DC’s forums to get feedback from it’s existing customers. Please be sure to ask specific questions, rather than opinions, as what you need is information, and not some other person’s opinion.

Ah well, the Support Team:

I don’t like this part, since I’m a support guy myself 😉 So let me make it to the point : Does the DC have a support team that listens, understands, responds, and ACT’s!

Do they have proper technical escalation channels? Do they have a proper management structure? How bumpy it could get, if your request for help is funneled through a couple of departments of the provider?

Here again, you have to take initiative, and open multiple help-desk requests. You may open similar ones in various queues such as a “high priority” / “Critical” queue. Open a request of sales nature in the support queue or accounts queue, and see how the request is tracked to resolution.

With this, you would also come to know the average response time of the support team, which is very critical for a DC!

The AUP and SLA :

Some providers tend to be very particular about what is acceptable, and what is not. Make sure you go through the “Acceptable User Policy” of the provider.

Service-level agreements are the tools that add a lot of accountability to the services rendered by a provider. SLA’s usually define support options and compensations for service level breaches. However, in most cases the impact of any downtime, far exceeds the cost of the service provided, so even a cent percent refund would be an insufficient compensation!

You’ll have to study each clause mentioned in the SLA, especially the section that covers “what if service is bad?” and what is in the “clause on termination of services” .

Does the DC provide managed or unmanaged servers..?

This section in itself calls for a lot of depth, much because the whole idea is not very clear for many web-hosts. Many providers have different explanations for this term “Fully Managed Server”.

There are pros and cons to having a managed server. If you would want the provider to take care of almost all technical aspects, you should go for a datacenter that provides fully managed servers. This usually implies that the provider will take care of everything you require on your server. Right from the Hardware, the OS, various installations and configurations.They usually take care of the server security and also monitor the server and its services.

Many a times, this leaves the web-hosts in a state of not having direct root/Administrator access to their own servers. The option of using an OS of your choice, and/or a kernel build of your liking would also be mostly denied. The option to even select control panels would be restricted, and above all, you might not be allowed to oversell(well, I’m not in favor of overselling, but i’d prefer deciding on how many accounts could reside in MY server).

Are you with the right provider.. ?

You already know the answer to that question. Now let me put two points across to you

1) No provider is perfect. So a lot depends on how well your needs blend with what a provider has in store for you.

2) It’s not that hard to switch data-centers. NOC shifting can be tough, but it would still be better than being with a provider who turns out to be your regular pain in the rear!



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Bobcares provides Outsourced Web Hosting Support and Outsourced Server Management for online businesses. Our services include 24/7 server support, help desk support, live chat support and phone support.
Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.