Tips to Protect Your Data Center

By Corinne Bernstein Print this article Print

Security and business continuity are critical issues to consider.

Companies that are either buying or building data center capability should not take business-continuity and risk-assessment planning for granted. In recent discussions with Baseline, four data center experts made the following recommendations and observations:

1. Maintenance procedures should incorporate best practices. Physical security should be a big part of the site management program, says Julian Kudritzki, vice president of development and operations at Uptime Institute Professional Services, a provider of educational and consulting services for IT shops. He recommends checking on the data center’s history of outages, as well as making sure the staff is well-trained and the environment is clean.

2. Locating a data center—or choosing a co-location provider—that is close to your operations has pluses and minuses. “Though choosing a co-location provider that’s nearby saves time for tasks, such as racking up a server, it prevents you from taking advantage of lower-cost facilities that may exist elsewhere,” Galen Schreck, an analyst at Forrester Research, wrote in a recent report. “Depending on the provider you select, you may be able to use some basic remote services to handle physical configuration tasks, while running your operations remotely.”

There’s another reason for not having your data center and co-location center too close. “Events that are likely to knock out power are often regional,” says Tom Deaderick, director of OnePartner Advanced Technology & Applications Center, a co-location site.

3. Don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to rating a data center. The Uptime Institute’s Tier Classification System, which rates data center availability, doesn’t use a design manual or checklist to reach a specific tier level.

It allows for multiple solutions to reach a given standard, Kudritzki says. Tier III and Tier IV data centers (the institute’s top classifications) must have uninterruptible power supplies, backup power generation, redundant and diverse connections to the power grid, a standalone building, concurrently maintainable infrastructure (redundant systems and distribution paths), and on-site staff to monitor and correct any facility issues, the Forrester report states.

Although many data center users realize the need for greater resiliency and are raising their data center requirements, only a small number of private companies pay for certification, says Richard Jones, vice president and service director for data center strategy at the Burton Group. Nearly all hosted companies offering data center services to businesses do get certified, he adds.

4. Test the recovery side of your backup. Determine the resiliency of your data center, how long its uninterruptible power supplies will run and whether staff can reach the data center in the event of disasters, Jones advises. “Even something simple like having a contact list of IT employees is not something companies think about beforehand,” he says. “Companies often fail to look at the whole picture. Having a full business continuity process in place will help them identify these needs.”

This article was originally published on 2009-06-05
Corinne Bernstein is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
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