Is your business entering into the steepening phases of digital transformation? This is an exciting time, and one that you will ultimately reflect on as a condensed period of critical business management decisions. Key among them is selecting a data center, whether you will be remaining with your current provider or moving to one that offers greater adaptability, functionality and scalability.
If IT is not your organization’s core strength, consider a data center that is a Managed Service Provider (MSP). A strong MSP enables your team to focus on your core business rather than your data center. If allocating time and resources to maintain an IT infrastructure and work with a data center is an impediment to your core business, an MSP with the depth and breadth of personnel and experience to handle your business’ data needs is your ideal partner. It should have the right certifications, accreditations and certified engineer-to-customer ratios.
With “full service” capacity, an MSP can tailor its cloud infrastructure to the needs of your customers. Your business will be able to leverage stronger application delivery, data management and analysis tools to support fast, but controlled, expansion. A full-service MSP will offer other professional services including cloud architects who can help you build out new functionality and IT personnel who can assess and migrate workloads as necessary. They can do all of this in cost effective ways that otherwise may not be possible.
If your MSP is lacking in any of this functionality, you will need to work with multiple vendors at times and it will be difficult to keep them accountable when they are handing off incomplete projects. An MSP that is capable of running the full cloud-migration process, from workload assessment to daily optimization, is best equipped to handle a continuing business expansion.
If you have ever purchased expensive sporting goods, like skis or a road bike, you know that the best investment is one that can accommodate your improving skills. As you progress, you don’t want a piece of equipment that will limit you, so you choose a model that gives you room to grow. Owning Bode Miller’s skis has accelerated the development of countless weekend skiers at Ski Brule.
Similarly, in choosing a data center, you want to be able to count on at least four to five years of flexibility and scalability to accommodate your most optimistic business projections. Larger, more capable data centers will offer flexibility and scalability in the form of customized solutions, in addition to the standard “box solutions” that your business probably works with now.
Everything you have read until this point has been geared to long-term thinking. But don’t forget your transition from one provider to the next. How quickly will you need your infrastructure up and running? Can you survive three days without offering certain services to your customers? If you’re like most businesses, you will want to minimize the time to deployment. Talk to your potential vendors about the expected timelines to be sure they can accommodate your immediate, as well as long-term business needs. This ability is also an indication of the breadth and depth of personnel a data center has on staff — as these are the same people you will need to rely on in the long term.
Financial strength is one half of a data center’s stability. You don’t want to form a partnership with a data center that may close in a few years. Examine the data center’s history and longevity to establish an informed consensus about the financial viability of your contenders. But consider the data center’s location as a factor in stability as well. If other data centers have facilities in the same area, that is a good indication that it will have the network connectivity and local utility services it needs to survive.
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