Clouds (4)

The phenomenal growth in cloud based service delivery is changing essential data centre requirements. For any small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking for a data centre to support this critical new business model and meet 99.999% customer Service Level Agreements (SLA), issues such as the resilience of connectivity and power, as well as security are clearly critical. While every cloud clearly needs a home – it cannot be just any home.

Here are my top tips for what SMEs should be looking for when finding a home for their cloud services.

TechNavio reports that the amount of SMEs moving to the hybrid cloud will increase by 30%, by 2018 due to the use of applications and the need to store data wherever required.i

These cloud services require a physical infrastructure: a safe and secure environment from which the business critical servers and hard drives that contain the applications and data can operate. They require fast, uninterrupted data connections, a totally secure and reliable power supply and buildings that offer the highest possible levels of security.

Five keys to unlocking the right home for the cloud:

  1. Location - It’s not just about avoiding the flood plain or flight path. SMEs should also consider the time it takes engineers to travel to and from the data centre. From adding new customer equipment, to the need to ensure any issues are immediately addressed to meet customer Service Level Agreements (SLA) and avoid problems, the speed with which engineers can reach the data centre can be critical.
  1. Business Scalability - With many SMEs and start-ups looking to grow their business it is essential to look for a home that offers flexibility. For example, can the data centre run high density and low density racks side by side? Without row-based, rack level cooling, an organisation might struggle to adapt or add racks without the upheaval of moving, when the time comes to scale up its cloud based business.
  1. Connectivity - Cisco estimates by 2017 global cloud traffic will reach 5.3 zettabytes (one zettabyte of data is the equivalent to the information stored on around 250 billion DVDs). In this environment the issue is not only the reliability of the connectivity but also latency: the ability to offer transmission time in nanoseconds fundamentally transforms the quality and type of solutions and services that can be offered.
In terms of resilience, every data centre offers multiple Tier 2 carrier options. Few, however, are able to offer multiple Tier 1 carriers. As a result, this means that the connectivity is still reliant upon a single fibre provider – typically BT. Without diverse fibre connections, the back-up options are limited: any damage to the underlying cable network – for example, damage during road works - will take out every Tier 2 connection that is simply using the same last mile from BT. SMEs should look for a data centre with multiple Tier 1 carrier options and diverse entry points into the building as well as Tier 2 carrier services, in order to achieve full resilience.
  1. Power Supply - All data centres can be expected to have a dual power supply from the grid. How many in central London, however, can offer dedicated 33KV transformers? Most urban data centres are limited to 11KV tapped into one main grid substation – if that goes out, they will lose both A and B grid feeds. A data centre should take dual feeds from different substations to provide true resilience.
  1. Security - From a bomb proof building to multiple levels of access security to the building, the server rooms and even to the racks, a depth of security facilities is key to support the changing threat risk. Given concerns regarding the data security in the cloud, it is essential SMEs are highly confident in the procedures in place, from authorised and unauthorised access to fire and vandalism risks.
Moving to the cloud is a business critical decision, expectations should be rising and organisations should be continually looking for more from providers to support an evolving business model. Isn’t it time to unlock the right home for the cloud?

By Matthew Dent, CEO, Volta Data Centres