Data centers – factors and criteria for choosing our partners
The quality of а web hosting service is fully dependent on the reliability of the partnering data center(s).
There is nothing more conductive to a web host’s peace of mind than the presence of a smooth, reliable and scalable data center service. After all, this is what a provider’s reputation in the eyes of clients depends on most.
In this post, we’ll highlight the main factors that cemented our choice of data centers.
How we chose our data center partners/locations
In the hosting industry, there is no ‘carved-in-stone’ set of criteria that a data center should be evaluated against.
However, there are certain factors that have proven to be crucial when it comes to choosing a data center.
Taking into account the experience of others, as well as our own experience over the years, we have selected our data center partners on the basis of the following factors:
Location is a generally agreed-upon factor in selecting a data center. Basically, we’ve tried our best to contract with partners whose facilities are located in stable areas – i.e. areas that are less prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes.
A few years ago, we were working with a prominent data center in California. The partner was loyal and the service was great.
However, we had omitted to take into account a tiny detail – the area was unstable in terms of natural conditions and the facility was often subject to floods, droughts and earthquakes.
Another environmental aspect to consider is temperature. For instance, the Texas-based data center we used to work with when we started our business was located in an area where the average summer temperature often reached peak levels.
This lead to a much higher cooling energy consumption, which, as our server base kept growing, had a negative effect in terms of cost-efficiency. We would have run an identical risk with a reputable facility in Las Vegas, which we were considering contracting with before settling on the Chicago data center.
Obviously, our contract with the Steadfast facility was preceded by a long journey through the complexities of colocation. However, what we had learned from experience predetermined our choice of data center location.
Although located in a comparably stable area, the Chicago data center avails of a reliable disaster recovery system, which makes it prepared for the unexpected. Remember last year’s outage in New York? Who would have imagined the Big Apple’s power grid going down for a whole week in the swirl of a snowy blizzard?
These are the disaster recovery measures taken by our US data center partner:
The Finnish data center, in turn, has put special emphasis on their underground location in a high-profile, environment-friendly area:
Apart from that, location is important for us as a partnering side. We picked only data centers that our admins would be able to access easily and frequently for on-site maintenance purposes.
This is another key factor we took into account when choosing our colocation partners around the world. Reliability is fully measurable – it depends on the network uptime ensured by the given data center.
A reliable data center provider should offer five 9s, i.e. a 99.999 percent uptime guarantee. In other words, the total yearly downtime- planned or unplanned -should not exceed 5.39 minutes.
This is another vital factor for the proper functioning of our hosting platform. All data centers we are working with are carrier-neural and offer a quality selection of peering partners, which gives us a good connectivity perspective on a worldwide scale.
The facilities sit atop multiple power grids and utilize major network providers such as Level(3), NTT, GTT, and many others.
Here are the connectivity options offered by our UK data center partner:
Here are the connectivity options provided by the Finnish data center:
Over the years, security requirements have become more complex so as to stimulate data center service providers to ensure a multi-level data protection. The data centers we are partnering with maintain high network security standards.
The physical security of the colocation space and the invulnerability of the data connections themselves are ensured by means of robust, industry-recognized security tools and techniques.
Here is, for example, the security hierarchy built by our data center partner in the UK:
These two factors are critical in establishing top-class performance levels. Each data center we are partnering with has been selected on the basis of its capacity to power and cool the facility at peak usage times.
Our UK partner, for example, uses ultra-efficient cold aisle containment pods. Each data hall avails of chilled-water Airedale CRAC units for cost-effective N+ cooling.
All data center facilities sit atop multiple power grids and avail of adequate backup generators for eventual outage emergencies.
For instance, our UK partner has N+1 PowerWave UPS systems for critical load times, which are protected by multiple spare AKSA diesel generators:
Before entering into a contract with a data center, we make sure to verify a few aspects such as certifications, references and financial stability. Also, we take into account staff qualifications, customer feedback and on-site support.
For example, a crucial factor in choosing our US data center over a ton of other options was the solid expertise of the facility’s management team, which is comprised of professionals who have decades of industry experience behind their backs:
Our UK partner, in turn, has shown compliance with a wide range of industry standards by listing its service accreditations on their site:
Last, but not least, our data center choice was also influenced by the extent to which the colocation space could be tailored to our specific needs.
We contracted only with facilities offering a colocation environment where we were able to build our own custom web hosting platform based on our own networking and server operation requirements.
For example, our UK data center partner has laid out their colocation benefits on their page and gladly welcomes the custom needs of businesses:
They clearly emphasize their flexible operating model where the customer can define the extent of collaboration.
Behind every successful web hosting provider there is a reliable data center partner. We learned this from our experience and it helped us settle on data center facilities that offer all the key conditions for maintaining a stable and cost-effective web hosting platform. Not all data centers are ”born equal”.
Some have a more beneficial location like an underground cave where the risk of a natural disaster is brought to a minimum, while others are located on more strategic Internet backbone routes.
However, when choosing our data center partners, we were looking for a good balance between all major data center selection factors in order to offer both you and your customers an equally stable and reliable web hosting service in all facilities.