Data centre 101

Summary:Secrecy seems to shroud the data centre arena -- all well and good for security's sake, but not so great when trying to pick a provider. RMIT IT Test Labs' Kire Terzievski pulls back the curtains to find what data centre options exist.


Contents
Introduction
Security
Building management
Cabling
Managed services
Second data centre
Data centre checklist
Sidebar: HP develops smart rack
About RMIT

Second data centre

Without a doubt data centres will have a second data centre used for disaster recovery, backup and for testing purposes. You have a few options here into how you want to handle disaster recovery.

Make sure the backup site you choose is far enough from the primary site so that the same disaster that affects the primary location cannot affect your secondary data centre. There are a couple of different types of backup sites you can have, including cold sites, hot sites, and warm sites.

Cold sites are typically large warehouses or empty office buildings that have no computing facilities preinstalled. They do have standby telecommunications links that can be activated with short notice.

The advantage is cold sites are inexpensive as you don't have to maintain any computers and you don't have telecommunications bills every month. The disadvantage is you have to bring all your equipment over to the new site then configure it, and enable communications links.

A hot site is a fully operational site with all hardware and communications links ready to take over from the primary site in case of disaster.

The data on the primary site is also continuously replicated to the hot site. This will give you unsurpassed disaster recovery but you can imagine the cost of doing this is extremely high -- you virtually have to double your budget for hardware, software and services.

A warm site is somewhere in between hot and cold and contains the equipment and communications links so you can quickly continue with operations. These sites have equipment that is already preconfigured but they don't replicate any data from the primary site. Hence, the only thing you would need to do is move the data from the hot site to the warm site.

We don't have any scenario winners or an editors' choice award this time. To see whether data centres are adhering to the best practices would take a very long time so for that reason we didn't go to the lengths of visiting and doing spot checks on how some of these data centres are run but rather we decided to let readers know what can be found inside these data centres and what generally denotes good practice.

However, we have created a best practices checklist which you might want to use to tick off when looking for a data centre to host your equipment. A lot more can be added to the list but we decided to include the main points so that you can at least get a short list together much quicker. We also asked the following data centre companies to fill out the checklist: CSC, Datacom, Equinix, Fujitsu, Global Switch, Hostway, Hostworks, IBM, InfrastruXure, Macquarie Corporate, Optus, Raritan, Telstra, Unisys, Virtual.Offis, and Web Central. However many were reluctant to fill it out, either for security reasons, or because they didn't trust their counterparts in the industry to fill it out honestly. We have included those that did respond, but advise you to take it as a guide only. Reference: CISSO (Tittel, Stewart, Chapple).

Topics: Security, Big Data, Hewlett-Packard, Networking

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