2013 has definitely been a great year for all of us at Data Cave, and we are all looking forward to exciting new things in 2014, but I wanted to take some time to look back on where our data center industry has moved this year, and look at some of the biggest trends of 2013.
In addition to the changes and trends that we have seen this year at Data Cave, I wanted to get an idea of what other data centers were seeing as well. For that, I turned to the Uptime Institute, an independent data center research organization. Each year they survey over 1000 data center owners and operators around the world on a wide range of topics. The aim of this annual survey is to answer these questions:
The results of this year’s survey (which can be viewed in full here) reveal several key trends that have really started to take shape over the course of 2013. Now before I get into these numbers, it will help to make the following distinction between enterprise and 3rd party data centers, since they get referenced and compared quite a bit:
An enterprise data center is one that is managed by the IT department of a particular company, and is typically considered “in-house”. For example, if you own a company that builds widgets, and you have an in-house data center at your physical location, then you are considered an “enterprise” data center.
On the other hand, a 3rd party data center is one that houses equipment for more than just one specific company. Facilities like Data Cave are considered to be “3rd party” data centers.
Here are the key findings of the survey:
1) Data center budgets are going up (or down, depending on how you look at it)
The survey found that budgeting for 3rd party data centers went up significantly in 2013, but at the same time enterprise data centers saw budget cuts (roughly 23%). This is a strong indicator that many companies are placing more emphasis on putting their money and equipment into a reliable 3rd party data center, rather than managing their equipment internally.
A likely reason for this shift is also something that we hear often from our clients at Data Cave, is that many companies would now rather leave their data center needs to the professionals, and get out of the data center business themselves. By shifting to a 3rd party data center, a company’s IT department can focus more on their core needs, without having to manage a data center as well. In addition, 3rd party data centers are much more capable of meeting a company’s uptime needs, since it is literally what they do for a living (we’ll get more into that below).
2) 3rd party data centers deliver in a big way on both reporting and energy consumption
Another finding of the survey relates to the level of reporting that data center operators communicate to their upper management (or for 3rd party data centers, the level of reporting to their clients). The types of reporting can include metrics like power usage, level of uptime, data usage, among others. The survey found that, while some level of reporting is taking place overall, it happens far more consistently among 3rd party data centers than it does with enterprise data centers (roughly 23% of enterprise data centers report to their upper management only when requested). Roughly 48% of 3rd party data centers report to their clients on a monthly basis, with others reporting at different intervals.
A similar comparison can be made between the 2 types of data centers on how they approach their level of energy consumption. While the majority of those surveyed ranked reducing their energy consumption as “very important,” few enterprise data centers have seen much incentive or ability to actually do this. A few reasons for this include:
- More often than not (80% of the time to be exact), the budget for the data center’s power bill is allotted to a company’s Facilities budget, rather than to its IT department. This results in IT Managers having less motivation to take measures to reduce the data center’s energy consumption, because the tangible financial incentive just isn’t there.
- As we already saw earlier in the survey, enterprise data center operators are seeing decreasing overall budgets , which reduces their financial means as well.
Third party data centers like Data Cave tend to excel over enterprise data centers, because running a data center is their full-time job.
On the other end of the spectrum, many 3rd party data centers as well as some larger data centers have taken measures this year to reduce their carbon footprint. This is largely thanks to them having the following:
- The financial incentive as well as the financial means.
- A good amount of knowledgeable data center staff in place.
- An infrastructure that allows for more scaleability, since they are not typically hindered by power or space constraints.
What do these trends all point to?
I think that more than anything, these trends collectively point to one overall truth that we are seeing more and more at Data Cave: companies are realizing the benefits of making the shift from an internal enterprise data center, to a separate data center managed by a 3rd party. By getting out of the data center business themselves, companies are able to reap many benefits including lower IT costs, higher security and scaleability, and above all, more peace of mind. This shifting mindset is a huge trend that we have seen over the past several years, and a big one that we believe will continue in the future.
If you are a data center operator, what are some other trends you have seen this year? We would love to know! We encourage you to leave a comment, or Contact us to continue the conversation!
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When an organization is evaluating colocation and disaster recovery services offered by a data center, one of the key things that they most often consider is the location of that data center. Just like real estate, the location of a data center is everything. After all, if a severe storm hits your town and puts your business at risk, would you want your data center provider right across the street, or would you want it located further away and out of reach of the storm? Further away and out of reach is definitely the way to go; the most often recommended distance for your disaster recovery location is at least 50 miles from your business location.
So what does this mean if you are a business in Evansville?
Thanks to its location, Evansville has seen a surge of growth in the healthcare and finance industries over the last several years. While a disaster recovery plan would be a good move for any industry, it is especially important in industries such as healthcare and finance, due to the high sensitivity of the data being worked with, as well as federal regulations that are in place for these sectors (for more details on these regulations, check out our whitepapers on HIPAA and Financial Services Regulations).
In addition to the need for Evansville’s primary industries to have a data center provider that they can rely on, Evansville also has a unique geographic situation. Being located in southwestern Indiana, Evansville is geographically separated from many larger cities; this likely contributes to the fact that there are very few data centers located around Evansville, apart from a few within the city itself. However, using a data center located directly in Evansville doesn’t really meet the “further away and out of reach” goal I mentioned earlier, since you want the data center to be further away geographically from your location.
Why colocate with Data Cave then?
Data Cave is in an ideal location to provide disaster recovery to Evansville!
The Data Cave facility is located in Columbus, Indiana, which is roughly 187 miles away from Evansville (it comes in at just under a 3-hour drive). For Evansville businesses who choose Data Cave, this provides more than enough distance for effective disaster recovery, and at the same time is still within driving distance. It’s even in the same state too!
With Data Cave, organizations in Evansville can be confident in knowing that:
- Their IT equipment is housed in a world-class facility that ensures maximum security and 100% uptime.
- The data center is “further away and out of reach”, located far enough away from Evansville for disaster recovery, but still within a reasonable driving distance.
- They are working with an Indiana data center that has a proven track record in disaster recovery and colocation.
In addition, Data Cave recently added fiber connectivity from Windstream, one of the largest internet providers in Evansville, to its facility. What this means for Evansville businesses who utilize Windstream for connectivity is a smooth transition to the Data Cave data center, since you won’t need to go through the process of changing connectivity providers.
But don’t take our word for it.
Data Cave recently formed a partnership with Traylor Bros. Inc. of Evansville, as their data center provider. Here are a few things that they had to say about working with us:
“We looked into a few data centers in Louisville and Indianapolis, but Data Cave was by far the best choice, in terms of its location, cost, and above all, its level of customer service. These factors made Data Cave the best overall value for our company.
In addition to their technical knowledge, they have been the most open and honest data center I have worked with, and they haven’t hesitated to provide after hours support to us anytime we may need it. They really do go above and beyond what I would have expected from a data center provider. And to make it even better, since colocating with Data Cave we have had no connectivity issues or downtime whatsoever with our equipment, which is simply unheard of in most other data centers.”
-Chad Lamb, Network Administrator at Traylor Bros. Inc.
Below are a few additional resources that should help with your decision process in choosing a data center:
We encourage you to check out these additional resources we have prepared, and if you have any questions or wish to begin your disaster recovery conversation, Contact us today!
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All of us here at Data Cave are happy to welcome Greg Rhoades to the team! Greg has joined Data Cave as our new Information Technology Architect. He has more than 20 years of Information Technology experience focused on large scale infrastructure, and spanning a variety of different industries.
Greg has had a passion for computers since childhood, when he spent a summer mowing many lawns to fund his first computer, the Commodore VIC-20 (yes he’s been in IT that long). Teaching himself to program, accessorizing the computer and quickly discovering that networked computers are far more useful than stand-alone systems, he wrote a Bulletin Board System (BBS) for his high school as a first foray into “social networks”. At Purdue where he studied Computer Science, Greg was exposed to UNIX. He very quickly developed a preference for “open systems,” and has never looked back.
Greg has applied his IT knowledge to different industries, including process control (where he once had to perform a SYSGEN of an RSX11M-PLUS system to incorporate a TCP/IP stack), scientific research (building HPC clusters), education, financial services (focusing on e-commerce and Internet infrastructure for wealth management & market data systems) and transportation management systems.
He is an Indiana native, but he has lived in the Northeast and Southeast regions of the country as well. Greg is currently a resident of Southport with his wife Susanne. In addition to his interest in technology, he enjoys travel, spending time with family, and is on a quest to hike every National Park in the US.
Greg is a very welcomed addition, and he will play an integral role in growing Data Cave’s IT infrastructure, as well as our product and service development. Please join us in welcoming Greg to the Data Cave family!
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With Halloween coming up in just a few days, this week will most likely be dominated by trick-or-treaters, candy, and cheesy costumes. While I won’t get into things like the best decorations or most unique Halloween costumes this year (we don’t get many trick-or-treaters at Data Cave), I do have a few scary stories to share.
For Data Cave as well as any other data center, our number one enemy is downtime. All of our equipment, security policies, and infrastructure we have in place is centered around ensuring a level of 100% uptime, all the time. Any level of downtime is unacceptable, but when a data center experiences a significant level of downtime from an outage, it’s downright scary.
With that, I give you the scariest data center “horror stories” of 2013:
1) Vampires suck all power from Sears data center
Shortly after the 2012 holiday season, Sears experienced not one, but two major outages at its primary data center in Michigan. It began when all 4 of their UPS (uninterruptable power supply) units failed nearly simultaneously. In addition, several hours passed before they could start up their backup generators to restore power. This led to their e-commerce website and all of their internal systems to go down for several hours (not good for their online sales efforts).
Later in the month, they experienced virtually the same outage at their data center, only this time one of their backup generators failed in addition to their UPS units. This led to several more hours of downtime, and required them to rent a generator from an outside vendor (to the tune of $13,500 per week). Sears has since filed lawsuits against several of its equipment maintenance providers for lost sales as well as the cost to restore service at the data center.
The fact that so many different pieces of their equipment failed at virtually the same time (and at separate times in January) seems to indicate that the equipment either wasn’t tested regularly, or wasn’t tested adequately. Since a data center’s goal is to ensure a maximum level of uptime, regularly testing the backup power equipment such as the UPS units and backup generators is crucial.
2) Double Danger: Multiple switch failures slash connectivity to websites
In August of this year, a data center in Utah that houses web servers for several of the country’s largest web hosting companies experienced simultaneous failures on two of their facility’s core network switches. This led to several hours of downtime, and rendered the websites hosted with each provider (thousands of them) completely inaccessible. By the time service was completely restored, thousands of hosting customers complained that they definitely lost money due to their websites being down.
While the data center staff worked to restore service as quickly as they could, this huge outage reinforces the need for data center providers to take every measure necessary to not only test all of their equipment regularly, but to also create contingency plans that will ensure uptime, even in the event of a hardware failure.
3) Power outage drops data center into darkness
In early September, the state of New Jersey suffered an outage at its primary data center. Unlike the others though, this outage was not related to any physical equipment failure, but rather a power outage to the building itself. The power provider, Public Service Electric and Gas Company, had a temporary outage of power to the data center, and this resulted in several hours of downtime for state-run services, including all of its websites, and BMV services at each state license branch.
The real issue with this outage is that it appears the data center was completely dependent on power from the outside, with very little (if any) backup power in place. When there was an outage of power to the data center, the facility itself lost all power completely. Since the goal for any data center is ensuring 100% uptime, this is a HUGE issue that makes that goal virtually impossible to achieve, since the data center can’t control the company providing it with power. What the data center can control though, is working to ensure that there is an efficient level of backup power in place, should an outage occur. This should include redundancies like UPS power supplies, and backup generators (ideally not the same equipment that Sears was using though).
Any amount of downtime is scary!
While these horror stories may not be scary in a Freddy Krueger kind of way, they embody the one thing that can be horrifying to data center operators and customers: downtime. Unlike most things that go bump in the night though, downtime is a risk that can either be avoided completely or mitigated, with the right measures, equipment, and policies in place.
Do you have your own technology “horror story” that you’d like to share? If so, post a comment below or Contact Us, we’d love to hear it!
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Data Cave recently completed an annual audit for its SSAE-16 certification, the highest internationally-accepted standard for service organizations. Having this certification is an assurance that an organization meets a wide range of compliance controls and standards, especially where factors like security and uptime are concerned.
While most companies will make it a point to advertise that they are SSAE-16 certified (even we do it, just look at our website header!), I want to go a step further and provide some details for you on what measures go into these audits, and why they are so important for both Data Cave, and for you.
It’s all about TRUST
While the different types of reporting that go into a SSAE16 audit are very complex, they all revolve around trust, since this certification is essentially a measure of how trustworthy an organization is, and how well equipped it is to keep its promises. SSAE-16 certification centers around the 5 following “Trust Service Principles”:
- Security: The system is protected against unauthorized access (both physical and logical).
- Availability: The system is available for operation and use as committed or agreed.
- Processing integrity: System processing is complete, accurate, timely, and authorized.
- Confidentiality: Information designated as confidential is protected as committed or agreed.
- Privacy: Personal information is collected, used, retained, disclosed, and destroyed in conformity with the commitments in the entity’s privacy notice and with criteria set forth in generally accepted privacy principles issued by the AICPA and CICA.
(Official definitions of the trust service principles courtesy of the American Institute of CPA’s)
The audit process
The process involved with becoming SSAE-16 certified (and keeping up with that certification) is a lengthy one, taking several months to complete each year. The reason for this lies in the level of detail that the audit goes through. Rather than just going through a high-level review of the business’ internal processes, the audit delves much deeper to answer the following questions:
- What specific physical and digital measures does the business have in place to ensure maximum security of their internal systems, as well as client-owned systems?
- What specific measures does the business have to ensure the highest level of availability possible?
- What does the business have in place to ensure that its system processing is timely and accurate?
- What specific measures does the business take to ensure that any client data or equipment is kept completely confidential and private?
You may notice that I used the word “specific” several times. That is because the audit process itself is very specific, looking at things such as documented business processes (and then seeing them in action), a technical review of the facility and internal infrastructure, a review of security policies, among many other measures. It is as thorough a review as you can really get for a service provider.
What it means
At the end of the day, being SSAE-16 certified means more than just a piece of paper or a logo we can put up on our website. What it signifies is that we have done our homework and put the right measures and policies in place that ensure the highest levels of availability and security possible for our clients. Most importantly though, having this certification shows that we are a trusted data center service provider. This trust is something we take very seriously, and we are proud to be SSAE-16 certified.
If you would like to learn more about what goes in to becoming SSAE-16 certified, or wish to discuss your colocation/disaster recovery options, Contact us today! We will be happy to begin the conversation with you.
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