Want email updates from me?
Want more unvarnished truth?
Looking for something? Look here!
What I'm saying now
What you're saying...
I think tag clouds are pretty, and not to be taken overly seriously
111 Chop House 75 on Liberty Wharf 9/11 A Broth of a Boy ABCs Abiouness accountability activities alcohol Allora Ristorante Analysis Angry Hams ANSI/TIA 942 Anthony's Pier 4 Apple Application Armsby Abbey Arsenal Arturo's Ristorante Ashland AT&T Audio Automation baby Baby Monitor babysitting Back To School Bad News Bangkok Thai Bar Bay State Common baystateparent BBQ BCP BeeZers Before I die I want to... behavior Big Bang Bike Bill of Rights Bistro Black Box BlackBerry Boston Boston Marathon boundaries Boyston BPO brand Breakfast Bridge Bring Your Own Technology Budget Burlington Burn Burrito buyer BYOD Cabling Cambridge Camp Campaign career Casey's Diner Castle casual cCabling Cell Phone Central Square Change Management Cheers Chef Sun ChengDu Chet's Diner Children Chinese Christmas Christmas Families Holiday CIO Cloud coddle collage College College Acceptance co-lo Co-Location Co-Location Tier Power Cooling Comfort Food Control Country Country Kettle Crisis customer dad Dad Phrases damage daredevil Data Center Data Center Design Davios Day Care Dead Death declaration Del Frisco's Design Desktop Video dinner Disaster Recovery Divorce Do Epic Shit dodgeball Downtown Crossing DR driving Droid Easter Economic Kids Edaville Education Elbow Night Elevator Employee Engagement Erin Etiquette Evaluation events Exchange Expiration Dates Facebook Failing family Fatherhood Favorite things Flash Flemings Fogo de Chão Food Hits and Misses Format Foundry on Elm Foxborough Frameworks fraternity Fraud French Fried Clams friends fun Fusion Generations germs Girl Scouts girls Global Go/No Go GPS Grafton Grandchild Grandpa Harry's hazing Healthcare Healthy Choices while Dining Out Help Desk Hisa Japanese Cuisine Historic holiday Home hope Horizons hose Hot Dog Hurricane IIT Assessment incident Indecision Indian Infrastructure Inn Innovation Internet Inventory Management iPhone IT IT Assessment IT Satisfaction Italian Jack Daniels Jakes Restaurant Janet Japanese Jazz Joey's Bar and Grill JP's Khatta Mitha kickball kids Laid off Lakes Region Lala Java Leadership Learning legacy Legal Harborside Les Zygomates L'Espalier Liberty Wharf lights out Linguine's loss Love Lucky's Cafe M&M Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade mai tai Managed Application Services Managed Services managers Mandarin Manners Mark Fidrych marriage Mary Chung mass save Maxwell-Silverman Mediterranean meetings Memorial Day memory Mendon Mergers Mexican MiFi Migration Ming III miss MIT MIT CIO Symposium Mobility Moes Hot Dog Truck MOM money Mother Moving on Name neanderthal neighborhood Network New York Marathon newborn Northborough Not Your Average Joe's Nuovo Nursing On-Call Operations Operators Oregon Club Organization Pancakes Pandemic Parental Control Parenting Patch Peeves People Perserverance UMASS growth Play Plug and Run Predictable Pride Problem Process Production program Project Management propane PTA. PTO PUE QR Quick Response Rant Real Estate Realtor Recognition Red Rock Resiliency Respect restaurant Restaurant Guy RFP ribs Ritual Root Cause Analysis Sam Adams Sandy Sapporo savings School Sea Dog Brewing Company Sea Dog Steak and Ale Seafood Seaport Security Sel de la Terra Service Service Desk Service Indicator Light sharing SHIRO Shit Pump Shriners SHTF Simplification Skunk Works Skype Sleep sleepovers Sloan Smith & Wollensky soccer Son SOP sorority spanking Squarespace staffing Starbucks Status Reporting Steak Steve Jobs Storage Strategy stress Summer Sushi swimming Tacos Acalpulco teacher Technology Teen Telephony Temperature Strip Tenka terrorist Testing Texas BBQ Company Text Thai Thanksgiving in IT The Mooring Thomas Thought Leader Three Gorges III TIA 942 Timesheets Toby Keith Toddlers traditions Transition treehouse turnover TV Twitter unspoken moments Valentine's Day Value Vendor Venezuelan Verizon Vermont Video Vietnamese voice VoIP Watertown Wedding Westborough Korean Restaurant Westborough MA. StormCam WiFI Wi-Fi Wilbraham Wine Worcester work work life balance working Yama Zakura Zem Han Zitis

Entries in Co-Location Tier Power Cooling (2)

Monday
Feb062012

An Open Letter to Co-Lo Data Center Operators

Regular readers know I am a fan of using co-location providers for small and mid-size businesses.  Larger businesses have the mass and scale to run their own data centers.

We are seeing a dramatic uptick in the number of organizations seeking co-location.  Some are moving because of external factors (the CIO with an elevator going through the data center opted to go co-lo, as did a CIO where flooding damaged the data center building.)  Others are experiencing growth, and finding the costs to expand in place prohibitive.

Whatever the reason, these organizations often look to us to provide advice and counsel.

As a part of the co-location decision, we believe in an RFP process.

Analyzing hundreds of responses leads us to make a few observations:

  • Always be honest – we had a respondent claim to be a Tier 4 (think NYSE and the government) data center operator.  Tier 4 has redundant everything….real belt and suspenders.  For this respondent, it would be a neat trick as they only had one generator.

Were they intentionally misleading, or did they not understand? 

  • Check your math – As independent consultants, we analyze the financial aspects of proposals using proprietary models we’ve built and refined.  As we load vendor’s submittals to our spreadsheet, we often find errors in submissions (most often, the words and the numbers do not align.)

  • Respect the process – it seems every one of our proposal efforts exposes a vendor who is unwilling to follow the process.  This normally takes the form of a vendor reaching around the consultant (us) and trying to influence directly or indirectly.  Perhaps this is the equivalent of a Hail Mary football pass, a final act of desperation…since in all cases the vendor going around the consultant did not prevail in the end on the strength of their response.  We know vendors will do this, and so we prepare our clients for the defense.

We work very hard for the client and the respondents to play fairly.

We recommend our clients visit co-location providers and “kick the tires” before making a final decision.

This is where gaps in the expectation versus delivery are often exposed, yielding more observations.  I like getting to the co-lo site an hour before the formal tour, and take a walk around the building.  I take my trusty BlackBerry with me, and take pictures of things I see.  In fairness, I am not including pictures in this blog post intentionally as I don’t want any vendor feeling bad, or any vendor using this to market against another vendor.  That said, what I find is vendor seem so driven to please they overstate the facts:

  • “You wouldn’t be in our parking lot for more than 5 minutes without someone challenging you.”  Well, I sure took a lot of pictures in the 15 minutes I was out there.
  • “The gas main at the front door has been deemed ‘Not A Risk.’”  I don’t know…it seems a gas main should be hidden/protected from automobiles.
  • “We check our logs closely.”  OK, good.  (And Bill Gates just signed in.)
  • “We would never let a constable take anything, even if they had appropriate court papers”  The constable sitting in the room did not agree.
  • “You wouldn’t get close enough to see the equipment.  You would be stopped in 3 seconds.”  Well, I have pictures of the serial number right off the device, with my little non-telephoto equipped BlackBerry.
  •  “That door to the UPS Switchgear area is never opened.”  We have a picture of it propped open.  There was someone standing there when it was open.  Really?

To be clear, other than forging Bill Gate’s name we don’t do anything illegal.  We’re not scaling fences, or using ladders.  Just a nice stroll around the building.

One client recently insisted in participating by taking a water bottle with them on tours.  While only one vendor didn’t challenge the bottle, that one vendor lost a large amount of credibility.

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping a facility neat, tidy and tour ready.  Seeing a cage in a co-location facility used as a janitor’s closet leaves me scratching my head.  Having all the covers off HVAC devices with nobody working on them makes one wonder about the overall maintenance plan.

If a client asks to see the mechanicals, show them.  We recently had one vendor that hesitated, and this left a sour taste in the client’s mouth.  The vendor did eventually show the space…

Power is an important element of cost.  Vendors putting all their profit in the power creates a disparity with others.

One or two vendors like to trash their competitors.  We’re not fans of that approach.  Speak to your own merits.

One last thing we tell our clients is to check references, and to Google the vendor.  Ask if there have been business impacting outages, and how they are to work with.  If a vendor has had a data center floor impacting issue, hopefully they’ve already mentioned it, and how they incident management process quickly addressed, and steps taken to address.  This is electro mechanical gear, and things CAN happen.  Rarely!

Monday
Aug222011

When to Explore Data Center Co-Location

Back when computers were new, they were often located just off the main lobby, in a windowed area.  Company management looked upon these first systems as trophies, and the windowed area was akin to the trophy case.

Fast forward a few decades and data centers are more bunker-like than trophy cases.

So we were surprised when a financial services client asked about building a data center in their new corporate headquarters.  Their data center needs are modest, under 2500 square feet.

We asked why they were not considering co-location (co-lo).  In a co-lo, all the bricks and mortar infrastructure is managed by the service provider, typically with a high degree of redundancy “built in.”

There’s even an ANSI standard (ANSI/TIA-942) for data centers.  Here’s a grossly simplified view:

Tier Level

Description

Estimated Annual Downtime due to Site

Site Availability

Tier 1: Basic

  • Non-redundant power and cooling components1

28.8 hours

99.671%

Tier 2: Some redundant components

  • Redundant power and cooling components

22 hours

99.741%

Tier 3: Concurrently maintainable

  • All IT equipment must be dual-powered and fully compatible with the topology of the data center architecture

1.6 hours

99.982%

Tier 4: Fault tolerant

  • Multiple active power and network distribution paths
  • All cooling equipment is independently dual powered
  • Power, cooling, and networking are all fault tolerant

.4 hours

99.9955

1 “Components” refer to the mechanical and electrical devices necessary for data center operation.  This includes: Power Distribution Units (PDU), Air Conditioning Chillers and Distribution (CRAC) units, Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), Power Switching, Generators, Environmental Monitoring, and Fire Suppression.

Most co-los are greater than a Tier 2, while cost considerations often drive smaller data centers to a sub Tier 2 redundancy.

When looking at retrofitting an existing office building compared to co-lo, some of the factors for consideration include:

Factor

Office Building

Co-Lo

Power Feed

Often Single

Generally dual

UPS & Battery

Need to be installed

Included

Generator

Needs to be installed; cannot use life-safety generator

Included

Cooling

Use building cooling systems (ensure 24x7 operation)

Included

Communication paths

Often single

Generally dual +

Fire detection

Sprinkler

Often aspirating or laser

Operations

Often on-site during normal hours.

24x7 on-site

 

The very first thing a business should consider are their business resiliency requirements.  Some businesses have manual processes allowing them to go without computer processing for an extended period.  Others, as often found in financial services and health care, require higher availability.

When faced with a build or buy decision, the economics of the increased resiliency and power/cooling demands afforded by a co-location provider should be considered in light of the business requirements.