Strive for disaster prevention with a colocation data center

 In Data Center, Hardware

A lot of organizations chase down the idea that they need a disaster recovery center. The specter of flooding, earthquakes, malware, or even just power outages often spurs the thought.

But the truth is that for many companies, it’s an unnecessary step. Much of the time, disaster prevention is a better option, and one that’s also less expensive. The move to a disaster prevention site, or colocation, is also an option for organizations that need more servers or storage space and can’t afford to build new or expand their current infrastructure.

Colocation should involve a Tier 3 data center, which safeguards IT systems from man-made and natural disasters (minus administrator errors). But choosing a colocation site will hinge on a number of factors. From what to look for in the data center to different disaster prevention migration options to planning for contingencies, keep the following strategies in mind to ensure a successful move.

colocation data center

What to look for in a colocation data center

If you’re running out of space at your current location, or if it lacks the power and heating and cooling requirements necessary to run your servers and storage, it’s time to find a colocation. The data center should be near your current facility and large and modern enough to accommodate current equipment or new systems, depending on your downtime requirements.

A colocation should be close enough that it allows for easy maintenance and upgrades, but far enough away that it won’t be susceptible to the same type of disasters as your current location. Building new is an option, of course, but it would likely be too expensive for most organizations. Instead, look to lease both the space and the cables (Internet and the dedicated link back to headquarters).

The equipment in your Tier 3 data center should be dual powered and fully compatible with the design of your system. At the Tier 3 level, redundancies built into the system ensure it is up and running 99.982 percent of the time, which means over one year, it’s down for only about 90 minutes.

Moving to a Tier 3 data site

Transporting and installing your systems in a Tier 3 data center depends on your current capabilities, how you’re making the move, and your downtime requirements. There are three options for moving: a forklift move, a refresh, and a swing move.

  1. The forklift move: Pick up and move your current equipment to another location. This full move is recommended for companies with no downtime requirements. You want to choose a site close enough to make the move reasonable, and that can be easily accessed in the future. A distance of 75 miles or closer is a good benchmark for the location of your new data center.
  2. The refresh: Buy new, and overhaul your current systems. Your hardware is old enough that it makes more sense to purchase new systems, and then move your old hardware. When buying new, it’s reasonable to expect you’ll spend less because of advances in the technology. Once the new equipment is ready, move the old systems to the colocation and link the two sites.
  3. The swing move: Take a hybrid of the first two options, depending on your downtime requirements. New systems are bought and installed at the second site, and systems are “swung” online as needed. The swing move is for organizations that cannot be offline for any period of time, and need to get the second site up and running as soon as possible. The extra capacity that’s created by additional systems serves as room for growth.

Don’t ignore colocation planning

Organizations must develop a clear plan on how they’ll implement the hardware in their colocation. Moving to a colocation is not a trivial exercise, so even a refresh requires a plan for installation.

When moving, especially for a forklift move, consider how you plan to physically transport your systems. Are you taking every server apart rack by rack and moving it piecemeal? Are you moving entire server racks without disassembling? How will you ensure your storage can move safely out of your existing building and onto a waiting moving truck?

Develop a contingency plan — what do you do if the system at the new site is assembled but not working? The two most common problems organizations have at a new colocation are not being able to link their buildings and lacking the proper amount of bandwidth.

It’s possible to handle disasters by simply getting your hardware away from disaster-prone areas. Moving to a more secure location is useful for small and medium-sized businesses that need more storage or must store equipment in a safe place.

Moving to Tier 3 is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s an option that’s useful to consider. And remember, how you move your server and storage systems to a colocation depends on your needs and downtime requirements. But once you do, your data and servers will rest secure.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Adam Swift

    Very useful post. Its very unique concept like moving to a 3 tier data site.

    • Kurt Bosch

      Correct, all the benefits of a tier 3 data center, but for primary infrastructure. Why spend the money twice – once for the primary data center and again for the disaster recovery site.

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