I'm trying to build a simple checklist to determine the quality of a datacenter... where and what should I look for and how can I determine if what the owners say (e.g. "our UPS keep the data center up for 100 days without power") is true or not? What are typical signs or good or bad data centers?
locked by Mark Henderson♦ Mar 6 '12 at 9:53
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Here is a list of questions I made for myself last time I went datacenter shopping:
If you visit several and ask these questions between the price, your visit impressions, and their answers it will probably be clear which one you want. Make sure you always visit them and visit a good amount of them.
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Kyle covered it pretty well, but here are a couple points:
Physical Security is huge. It should take nearly an act of Congress (Parliament, insert slow-moving bureaucratic institution here) to get inside.
It should have Halon fire suppression, not sprinklers; Servers should not be damp. (Local fire-suppression regulations may override...)
Find out what their preferred server vendors are. Unless it's for a very specific reason (like running a Google-like datacenter), it should be name-brand servers. (Dell, HP, IBM, Sun, Apple, etc.) If they say "white-box" or a brand that you don't recognize, run. Note that there are some reputable lower-tier server vendors that are reputable (System76, for example), but "custom-built" means that they're putting things together themselves. Great for your home, but bad for your datacenter. (This doesn't include buying a HP Proliant DL580 and installing things like the memory option kits or drive cages.)
What ownership options are available? Buy through them? Buy direct and drop-ship there? Leasing? VMs?
I work in a small data center in Silicon Valley. I'm the sysadmin on the managed-server side of the business.
Good signs: - Onsite diesel generator with automatic failover - Backup chillers and air handlers with automatic failover - Plenty of bandwidth on major carrier backbones (AT&T, XO Comm) - Redundant network providers - Redundant core routers, firewalls, load balancers and switches - Running memory check and hardware diagnostics before deploying servers
Name brand servers are fine, but if they're old and have been around the block a bunch of times, you'd better make sure they're passing hardware diagnostics before using them.
A good data center should provide its customers with a website where they can monitor their bandwidth consumption and uptime. They should also answer any questions. Ask them the make and model of their UPS. Ask them to see the current load on the UPS. With this information you can verify how long it can go without power.
But honestly, the UPS should not be your concern. A UPS only provides a brief uptime (30 minutes or so). A much better concern is if the DC has a backup generator. It's also worthwhile to ask which grid the DC is on. In terms of brownouts and blackouts, different priorities are assigned to different grids. Guess what? Hospitals and fire stations are high priority (power is never cut). If the Data Center is on the same grid, its guaranteed reliable power.
Ask them how much power available per rack. Where I work we provide each rack with 3x 25amp circuits. A typical 1u server consumes 1-3 amp.
But even more importantly: Do they have the space you need? One place we almost went into, within 2 years we were using more space than they had available.
Excellent as always Kyle, A couple of things I've learned from experience:
Funny stories that weren't funny at the time:
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