Sometimes the wizard gets confused. The high volume of marketing mumbo-jumbo in the data center world sometimes makes it hard to understand just what is really going on.
Therefore I have decided to simplify this for readers. But first we need to find a textbook definition of a data center.
Wikipedia tells us: "Data center or computer centre (also datacenter) is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections."
Dictionary.com says: "A facility equipped with or connected to one or more computers, used for processing or transmitting data."
The Wizard's personal favorite is way the federal government defines a data center in its FDCCI document: "A data center is a repository (closet, room, floor or building) for the storage, management, and dissemination of data and information. This repository houses computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (air conditioning, fire suppression, etc.), and special security devices housed in leased, owned, collocated, or stand-alone facilities."
Data centers come in a myriad of flavors . . . big telco hotels in downtown areas, sprawling campuses, containers, modules, and so many more. They come in many flavors of construction, tier ratings, and architecture, BUT the text book definitions tell us that ALL data centers should have one thing in common - telecom connectivity and lots of it. We might even deduce the following: if it doesn't have connectivity, it isn't much of a data center.
"Wizard, that sounds so obvious," you might say. "A data center is worthless unless we can transmit little 1's & 0's down some sort of transmission media right?" Well, of course that is correct, but do all outsourced data centers offer loads of redundant telecom? Redundant is a key phrase here. So what if you are 2N on power and cooling if the data stops flowing? All you have is cold servers.
The wizard says, "No." But before I go down that path, let's look at what the enterprise data center customer expects:
In an outsourced transaction (data centers are outsourcing) the enterprise expects access to multiple carriers. Real access. Like a 'simple' fiber jumper, and it's 'on' access, not "they have fiber in the manhole or meet-me-room" access. They expect the data center operator to offer 100% uptime IP products, you know, using technology to make sure green lights continue to blink. They would like to talk to someone on the phone that actually knows what BGP4, CLLI codes, and NPA NXX are. This is key - if the enterprise customer has to do all the work with the carriers, circuits, IP and networks, WHAT'S THE POINT OF OUTSOURCING?
The Wizard has five great questions you need to ask your "data center" provider:
1. Do you have LIT services from the carriers you advertise? Not fiber in a manhole or terminated in an FDC, but LIT?
2. When you tell me that a specific carrier is in your building, are they there for general service to all tenants? Or are they there for a specific client? Because if they are there for a specific client, you are wrong if you think it's "easy to get service."
3. Does your provider CONTROL and RUN the meet-me-room? Are they managing it? Here is a hint: if the building manager for a data center company is a 25 yr old that was managing apartments last month, you most likely do not have a managed meet-me-room.
4. Can your provider move your data around from each of their data centers without hitting the public internet? In the age of DR/BC and things like VMotion, private fibers rings connecting your sites are key.
5. Can you pick up the phone, 24x7, and get someone on the phone that understands what to do when a circuit is in alarm?
Ask these questions (then ask them to prove it). Tell them you want to see the blinky green lights, you want to meet their CCNA, you want to see their meet-me-room and follow the fiber paths.
If the zeros and ones don't move about the internet, you are paying for a box of cold air (more about this subject in the coming weeks) and not a data center.
Twitter - @DataBankWizard