The Wizard read an article in a major data center journal last week regarding data center selection. The contents of this article weren't really earth shattering, it just revisited what we all know and have heard for years: you need good power, avoid nature's worst threats, and steer clear of airports, refineries, munitions factories and zombies.
These requirements have not changed much in the last decade, but with all the new enterprises starting to outsource datacenters, it might be good that some are revisiting the subject of data center selection.
But there was one glaring omission, in my humble opinion. Connectivity. And even more specifically the physical confluence of data traffic within the datacenter, commonly known as the "meet-me-room" or MMR. Maybe it was an oversight, or maybe it's just so obvious that the author felt like it didn't need mentioning. (Or maybe the author was a "real estate guy" and not a technology guy...more on this later).
I began skimming back through the last few years of articles on this subject, and was frankly a bit surprised to find, that it's a very rare occurrence to have an expert mention the meet-me-room, so the Wizard feels like he must talk about them here.
So lets talk about:
1. What is a meet me room?
A meet-me-room can be anything from a room in which a wholesaler lets Telco terminate his fiber to a fully-managed, sophisticated cross-connect/interconnect system to access a myriad of services.
2. What makes a good meet-me-room?
First, who is in your meet-me-room? How many and what carriers are in the room? MMRs are definitely a case of "the more the merrier." I remember the first MTDC company the Wizard worked for. We proudly announced that we had THREE carriers in our MMR. Today we would get laughed at.
- Security - Meet-me-room security is often overlooked. We assume because a datacenter is physically secure, that the telecom and MMR are secure. Better check. NWhile they may be inside the facility, where are they? Who has access? Who controls the access? The Wizard has seen un-badged techs talk themselves into meet-me-rooms (which isn't always hard to do if you are in a datacenter in which the property manager is a 25 year-old that used to manage apartments).
- Redundancy - Just because the data center is Tier III/N+1 . . . whatever . . . it does not mean the meet-me-room is. Check the electrical one-lines. You might be surprised. Is the MMR on UPS and generator back-up? You might be surprised to find that in some data centers, Telco doesn't use A/B power but just has A-side and a rack-mount UPS system. Have you ever seen a wholesale data center operator take down MMR UPS for maintenance and not tell the tenants? The Wizard has, and it ended badly.
- Physical location - Distance matters. Where, physically, in the building, is the room? With some of these monster data centers that real estate developers are building, connectivity won't be just a simple copper run, but a fiber run, which, when done correctly, costs the end-user more money. Being a football field from connectivity is not unusual. When the MMR is on the second floor or in another building is the telecom conduit a continuous run? Or are there multiple splice/ connection points along the way? Remembering that each man-made stop along the way adds latency.
3. Does it matter?
Ask Equinix. Or Telx. Or Databank. Or Cyrus One if a meet-me-room matters. The largest, best, most well-respected data center providers in the world think that connectivity and MMRs are so important that they trademark/name them and make them a focal point of marketing. I think that if your provider doesn't tout connectivity and meet-me-room experiences, they are either overlooking or hiding something.
4. So how come the strength of the meet-me-room isn't a big deal anymore?
The Wizard notices that MMR conversations started disappearing with the emergence of the "real estate data center" versus the "technology data center". That is, as real-estate-centric data center builders and REITS began to proliferate, we started focusing on real estate value of a data center not the technology value of a data center. Real estate centric data centers don't focus on telecom . . . mostly because they don't understand it or have the in-house expertise.
The punch-line is this: the MMR is the chokepoint for all data in and out of your data center. Overlooking or ignoring its importance can be fatal. Without robust connectivity and a fully managed meet-me-room you could end up with nothing more than a box of cold air.
Twitter - @DataBankWizard