Where To Colocate Your Server or How to Choose a Data-center?

In this article, we would like to answer a range of important questions to help you decide on which Data-center to choose for server hosting.

On the Reliability of Data-centers

With servers, there is such a thing as 'up-time': the period in which the server operates after it has started up. A server's up-time can also be measured in relative units — percentages. How is a server's up-time measured in percentages? We deduct the server's downtime from 100% and divide it by the time the server is in operation. A server's downtime is caused by:

  1. server software failures (log overflow, memory leaks, hard drive overflow);
  2. server hardware failures (If you are hosting your server, then it is up to you to repair it. If you are leasing one of ours, then we will either repair it quickly or replace it with a new one);
  3. interruption in operating of the Data-center:
    • failures or breakdown in the cooling system;
    • breakdown of the electricity supply;
    • breakdown with the routers or communication channels;

There is no such thing as 100% reliability. This is something you just have to realise. But many rely on chance. Our experience (based on working with three large Data-centers and two of our own) can confirm this. There have been breakdowns, they still happen, and they always will, everywhere. It is possible to minimise such incidents, somehow reduce the time taken to rectify them, but to avoid them completely is not possible. It is possible to minimise the human element but impossible to avoid outages in the terminal equipment. To increase reliability we can advise you to have two power units for the server, and to power them with different sources. To connect both network cards from different switches. And the best thing to do is to have a backup server hosted in another Data-center.

Google, for example, proceed from the premise that any server can fail. As they assert, they don't use raid-arrays, flashy, expensive servers. They use many average servers. Their ideology is that there should be backup servers.

As for our Data-centers, in our experience of operating them, up-time constitutes no less than 99.8% over the first two years.

On Technical Support and Access to Equipment

Find out if there is 24-hour support, and if it is possible to gain access to the equipment at any time. At many Data-centers access to equipment is limited on public holidays and at night.

Support at the Fili Data-center is round-the-clock.

On the Data-center's Geographical Location

With server colocation, we recommend that it is hosted in the same area in which it is going to operate. If your server is going to service customers in Moscow, then it also has to be placed in Moscow. That way you will have the best possible connection quality. If the server which clients in Moscow or Russia are going to work with is located in the US, then many clients, even those in Moscow, will experience great difficulties because channels to the US are narrow and there will be many times more transfers (interconnection nodes) to the server than to a server in Moscow.

Data-center Channels

Once you have decided upon the area, you need to choose the Data-center itself. To do this, first of all it is worth thinking about which providers your clients use to get onto the internet. If it is Stream or Akado, then it is best to put your servers in Kitay-gorod or Fili DC as there are direct links to those operators there. This is especially important for game servers like CS (Counter Strike), BattleFiled, LineAge and others.

There should be a minimum of two fibre-optic cables to the Data-center from various providers and via various routers.

Which Uniterruptible Power Supplies?

The most reliable uninterruptible power supplies are made by APC. Data-centers need the industrial version. Industrial UPSs work in a different way from the normal ones and are much more reliable.

Who is the Manufacturer of the Electrical Equipment?

The Data-center's power supply should be set up with reliable components from leading global manufacturers like, for example, Schneider Electric.

What Kind of Premises Should or Should Not a Data-center be Located in?

A Data-center should not be located in a cellar because there is a danger of flooding!
A Data-center should not be located in an air-raid shelter because it could be ordered to be vacated in 24 hours!
A Data-center should not be located in an office building because the annoying hum from the servers spreads throughout the whole building!
If putting a Data-center on the first floor, bear in mind the stress it will put on the floor.
A good place would be a single-storey industrial structure.

Do They Allow Clients into the Data-center?

If they've let you into the server room, then it is something of a revolving door. It means that they let anybody in. It means that there is no guarantee that someone won't whip out a lead or a flash drive.

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