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Choosing A Northern Virginia Data Center – What You Need To Know

Choosing A Northern Virginia Data Center – What You Need To Know


Northern Virginia is known as “Data Center Alley” and very much lives up to this name. Many global enterprises have data centers there and nearly three-quarters of the USA’s domestic internet traffic passes through the region (especially Loudoun County). If you’re interested in implementing a Northern Virginia data center here is a quick guide to what you need to know.

Why choose a Northern Virginia data center?

Probably the main appeal of choosing a Northern Virginia data center is that it offers relatively low-cost access to Washington DC and the surrounding areas. This makes it an ideal choice for many businesses involved in government contracting.

Additionally, Northern Virginia offers some of the best physical and digital infrastructure in the world today. In particular, it has a dense network infrastructure with numerous fiber paths and interconnection points. This means it can reliably deliver the high-speed, low-latency connections that increasing numbers of organizations rely on.

The region is also home to many skilled workers. It’s therefore relatively straightforward to find staff and/or vendors to implement and maintain data centers. It has a benign climate with a low risk of extreme weather and, overall, is a safe environment in which to operate.

What to look for in a Northern Virginia data center

Northern Virginia is practically synonymous with data centers. This means that there is almost guaranteed to be a Northern Virginia data center that’s perfect for your organization. Your challenge is to find it. The key to succeeding in that challenge is to make sure that you are paying for what you need but not what you don’t need. With that in mind, here are the main points you should usually check.

Security and compliance

All organizations need to ensure that any data center they use has robust physical and digital security. Most organizations need to ensure that any data center they use complies with relevant data security standards. They may strongly prefer to use data centers that support recognized data security frameworks (e.g. ISO 27001).

For some businesses, one of the major benefits of using a Northern Virginia data center is that Northern Virginia data centers are highly likely to support niche compliance programs. These would typically be government-oriented programs such as FedRAMP, StateRAMP, and CMMC 2.0.

The more compliance programs a Northern Virginia data center supports, however, the more it has to spend on achieving and maintaining compliance. These additional costs are passed on to the customer. Some organizations may, therefore, want to look specifically for a vendor that only supports mainstream compliance programs such as PCI/DSS.

Reliability

Much the same reliability considerations apply to a Northern Virginia data center as to any other data center. Uptime guarantees in the high nineties are standard. Guarantees of 100% uptime are not unusual. Even if a guarantee is contractually enforceable, you should still check the vendor’s historical performance data and the facility’s tier rating.

You should also check the vendor’s protocols for incident management, business continuity, and disaster recovery. Essentially, these indicate the vendor’s level of preparedness for unplanned disruptions.

Infrastructure

The better you define your infrastructure requirements, the easier it will be for you to check if a Northern Virginia data center vendor can meet them. Once you’ve confirmed that they can, you should take a closer look at just what that means in practice.

For example, you can expect any Northern Virginia data center to offer high-speed, low-latency network connections. You should, however, check if those connections are carrier-neutral. In other words, do you have the option to choose your own carriers in line with your own business goals?

You should also check if a data center vendor supports interconnectivity and multicloud architecture. In a Northern Virginia data center, this is highly likely but it’s still important to be sure.

Location

In most data centers, there is a strong connection between the location and the quality of the infrastructure. With a Northern Virginia data center, the regional infrastructure is so high-quality that this is much less likely to be the case. That said, proximity to customers and/or physical access may still be considerations for some organizations.

Vendor quality

At the end of the day, any Northern Virginia data center is a business and any business is only as good as the people involved with it. Data centers are highly complex operations. As such they need very effective management. They also need committed, skilled workers.

It’s therefore vital to check that any potential Northern Virginia data center vendor is staffed by people with the necessary skills and experience. It’s also important to confirm that they make customer satisfaction a top priority.

 

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