Data centers

 

What data center should I choose?

An increasing amount of companies decide to migrate their IT-infrastructure to a data center. Outsourcing to a data center offers many advantages that are increasingly demanded by companies and organizations, but that are too expensive to realize themselves.

Examples of such advantages are scalability, security, efficiency and state-of-the-art technology. Choosing the right data center takes time, taking into account aspects such as predicted growth, nature of the data that the company uses and the maximum latency rate. Migration to a data center is a complex operation. However, with good planning, by communicating clearly and by anticipating on different scenarios, risks can be minimized or even excluded. In three steps, we will describe how migration to a (co-location) data center is done correctly.

There are numerous data centers located all over the Netherlands. The following questions will help you select a data center that meets your needs:

  1. How important is uptime? First of all, it is important to make a list of the consequences in case the IT is temporarily unavailable due to downtime. For some companies, a failure of a few seconds may already lead to enormous (financial) consequences. Depending on the consequences, it should be considered whether it is valuable to reserve a higher budget to guarantee higher availability or uptime.
  2. Do I want my infrastructure close to home? In theory, data center services are not tied to the physical location; the applications that are delivered via the data center can also be managed remotely. However, many companies still prefer a data center to be nearby. This is particularly the case if IT is intended for day-to-day business operations. A close proximity to the data center is in that case desirable, so that easy (face-to-face) contact can be maintained. However, when data centers deicide to migrate to a data center for recovery purpose (for example, in case a disaster occurs) it is wise to choose a data center far outside of one’s own region.
  3. Which certifications are important? An important reason to migrate to a data center is the security that data centers can offer. A number of certifications are important in this context. The most frequently seen standards and requirements relate to data center safety (ISO 27001), quality (ISO 9001) and the environment (ISO 14001). In addition, there is the NEN 7510 standard, which is specifically intended for the protection of patient related data. Furthermore, in case of processing financial transactions, a data center must comply with the Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Proper planning is essential because without IT, the continuity of an organization is interrupted. When problems arise during the migration, the entire business will come to a halt. Preparation should therefore be a delicate balance between planning and continuity, and between a smooth transition and the availability of IT. The aim is therefore to set up a migration strategy in which downtime is minimized as much as possible. The following aspects should be included:

  1. Analysis. First of all, a thorough analysis should be made of the necessary preparations and investments, to ensure that the migration to a data center runs smoothly.
  2. Communication. The migration must be communicated clearly and the concerns of different departments and stakeholders must be taken into account. It is important to look at the presence of ‘shadow’ IT processes. And if so, it is important to consider whether this can undermine business processes when the migration is complete.
  3. Risk assessment. It is important to look at which business units will be affected by a short downtime. Also, it is wise to examine at which moments downtime will cause the least nuisance.

The most important thing to remember is to execute a migration step by step, based on the preparations as listed above. All steps should be covered in detail. 

The move can be executed in three ways, depending on the importance of IT within the organization. The options are as follows:

  1. No downtime. One strategy for migration is to perform the entire IT-infrastructure twice. This means that the on-premise hardware will only go offline when the equipment in the data center is fully installed and tested.
  2. Step-by-step downtime with minimal impact. Another strategy is to realize the migration step by step. This often happens at times when the load on the infrastructure is minimal. For example in the evenings and during the weekend. This depends on the purpose of the applications.
  3. Short, one-time downtime. Lastly, it is possible to accept a short downtime and migrate to the data center in one go.

 

Logically, the first strategy that implies no downtime, is the most expensive option. A lot of new hardware will have to be purchased and the old hardware will probably be written off. On the positive side, this is a good opportunity to purchase more energy-efficient and more powerful hardware. This type of migration requires a substantial budget, so it is most fit for companies in which uptime is critical for business operations. All other companies may be better off choosing one of the other two strategies. 

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