NGD’s Commercial Director, Simon Bearne, offers some practical guidance
NGD is constantly engaged in conversations with CIOs who have chosen a facility based primarily on cost, only to find mid-way in their project or tenure, they experience where the corners have been cut. A good way of looking at things is to see the data centre cost in the context of the total IT project cost and in the context of the value of data – here it is often a minor component in overall cost, and yet can have a catastrophic influence on business when things go wrong.
Procuring to a rigid specification is another issue. Let the operator show you for themselves how they’ve set it up and how they run it as there are huge variations. Procuring to technical agendas, not business agendas, is important – it should not be about engineers wanting the closest facility for convenience. So be clear on what the facility has to do for you and be clear on the investment required to do it properly.
Avoid getting trapped with a provider offering limited forwards flexibility and available space and power. Ask to see and touch the space, plant and operations behind the scenes and judge for yourself when you go and see it.
Not establishing the service record and capacity at site is common. Thoroughly investigate any historical failures for yourself….this won’t be in the operator’s marketing material or sales puff. Ask for a straight written response as to long term history of service continuity and SLA conformance at the location.
But don’t rely on an SLA alone to deliver sound forwards service. Look instead at how the critical plant has been invested, architected and operated…..it’s usually clear to spot an operator offering big number SLA’s without the excellence under the bonnet to deliver it. Meet the people and decide for yourself if they have the right attitude and will be good to work with…because you’ll be working closely with them.
Critically important is to investigate the service history at each location and where it’s excellent, to understand why. Where there have been problems understand why and see that the operator understands why. Also, for the critical metrics in any SLA, walk through and evaluate each operator’s level of focus, preparedness, experience and compliance on making sure that metric never fails.
Don’t expect the operator to be able to do it all. It’s often more important that a data centre sits in an ecosystem of expert suppliers and industry experts, leaving customers to work with other third parties at site to deliver their projects. These types of data centres often have scale and excellent site facilities to conduct projects and attract technology integrators & comms/networking providers, meaning all the bases are covered.
And finally, don’t forget the service wrap when it comes to the management reporting on service, capacity, utilisation, and compliance in a transparent fashion. A good third party operator should give you more control and insights to manage the service than doing it yourself. A responsive ‘can do’, transparent attitude with lots of contacts to talk to goes a long way. Beware those that don’t do this at all.