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Opinions about moving server to a data center

Opinions about moving server to a data center

Opinions about moving server to a data center

(OP)
Opinions about moving server to a data center

Hi all,
I work in the IT Support department of a company in Toronto. We've had a server room from the beginning. Since we needed a server for our services, setting up a server on our own was the best option back then.
Now the company has grown a lot from when we set up the server room. We did upgrades on the servers along the way and now the room has become very noisy. Recently the company did a study on increasing productivity at the office and the noisy server room came up as an issue. The company was advised to move the server room to a different location. So the company has decided to move the server to a data center. But they have asked us for opinions before finalizing the decision.
I personally think data centers are a bad idea since we will have to travel to the data center locations if there any problems with hardware. I am looking for an opinion about colocation hosting services here in Canada. Please advise what should we do and also why.

RE: Opinions about moving server to a data center

I think the data center is bad for many for one very important reason: Internet access. If your Internet access goes down, then EVERYTHING goes down. Right now, where I work, if the Internet goes down, most of the work still gets done, b/c it's all local and server-based applications which are all housed here on site. We have an off-site location, but it's a very small portion of the business. If our Internet goes down here, then our off-site location is cut-off, but it's better than the whole business being down.

What about instead of moving the server off-site, you instead into sound dampening materials to deaden the server room sounds, assuming you're talking about people outside the server room with issues. If it's a problem for someone working all day in the server room, I'd suggest they have a normal desk away from the server room, and only go to the server room as needed.

Where I work now, we only have a few servers and just over 60 end users. Where I worked before, we had as many as 600 or near 700 users at one point, and they still kept most things in-house.

Data security is another thing that comes to mind. If you have to connect to another location, there is more opportunity for someone to breach your data security than if the server is in house. Not only that, but then if someone causes havoc at the data center, your stuff goes with it.

I'd suggest: Servers on-site, and cloud usage would be good for backup, but not for "production".

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57

RE: Opinions about moving server to a data center

There are ways to set up connectivity between a data center and an office that won't go down if the Internet becomes unavailable. In fact, if you are accessing your servers via the Internet, then you are adding multiple risks to the mix (speed, security, bandwidth, etc). Your phone company should have information on dedicated site to site WAN connectivity (T1/T3/DS1/Etc). Most carriers charge per mile. That can get pretty expensive though.

You mention not easily being able to go to the server. Where I work, we have multiple data centers. Whenever one of "my" servers has an issue that needs a human to go check it, I have a phone number I can call and get someone on site that can go and find my server and I can ask him about which lights are on or off and have him do things like toggle power switches if needed. I don't think I have ever actually needed to go visit a server.

One recommendation I do have is that before making any concrete decision that commits the company, install a single server and do a live proof of concept. You will find that the way your applications perform when running remotely may be very different from what you're used to, or are expecting. You need to make sure you are getting the performance and responsiveness you need. It's best to dip a toe before jumping in.

I do like kjv1611's suggestion of trying to sound-proof the room. It should have a closed and locked door anyway, for air conditioning and security. I would also look to see if maybe there is another room farther from the workers that could be turned into a server room. Keep it on campus, just move it to quiet it down. That could save a lot of money as opposed to moving to a data center and setting up fast and secure connections to it.

RE: Opinions about moving server to a data center

(OP)

Quote (sambones)

Thanks for the reply. You have cleared most of my doubts but I have few more. About the WAN between the data center and the office does the telephone companies promise that it will never go down, or can we be sure about that? Also is there a chance of a big decrease in performance and responsiveness?

RE: Opinions about moving server to a data center

Nobody can guarantee that something absolutely won't go down. You can't even guarantee that with your servers sitting in the "server room" in your offices. A rat could chew a cable and your users can't reach the servers. Or worst case, your whole building goes up in flames. With a WAN, a lightening strike, a car crash, an earthquake, a city-wide blackout, or a whole bunch of other possibilities could take it down. Hopefully those things are rare, but they are possibilities. Anyone that claims a connection will NEVER go down is either ignorant or lying.

What you can do is make sure you have a communication technology that is robust and has enough bandwidth for what you need. There are a lot of options for point-to-point connectivity that don't go across the Internet. The Internet is something you should keep out of the mix if you can. It's too much of an uncontrollable variable.

If you have found a candidate data center, I would talk to them about how other customers in the area connect to them. Also contact your phone company and see what they have to offer. They should have a whole department dedicated to business services.

Before you start "shopping", you really do need to do a traffic study. Try to determine how much network traffic goes to and from your servers in a normal work day. Also try to determine how much traffic there is during peak times. I don't know your business, but there usually are times where usage is heavier. Things like month end, year end, Christmas shopping season, and so forth. I used to work for a candy company and Valentines day, Mother's day, and Christmas accounted for well over 90% of the entire company's business for the year. Also just during the course of a regular work day there can be spikes. You need to know what they are and how much traffic is moving so the connectivity you set up doesn't become a bottleneck that throttles your company's work. Again, I don't know details of your business, but slowing the connection to critical business applications can potentially have a hard dollar hit to the bottom line.

Keep in mind that your budget will have a huge impact on what you can do. Sometimes you have to get what you can afford, not what you want. I work for a VERY large company (>100k employees) and I'm probably thinking at a very different scale than you. Our pockets are pretty deep. When we connect an office site to a data center, it's very often via more than one path using more than one technology. Of course we've usually built that data center in the first place, but you get my point.

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