February 08, 2013, 1:02 PM — In my post last week, I covered basic choices you'll face when selecting a type of colocation facility to host mission-critical enterprise workloads. Only hours after that posted to the Web, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Eastern seaboard, leaving widespread flooding and wind damage in its wake. Particularly hard hit were northern New Jersey and New York City -- two of the most densely populated areas of the country as it relates to data center and colocation facilities.
Even as I write this, many of the largest data center facilities in Lower Manhattan are without commercial grid power, either due to extensive flooding or the spectacular ConEd substation explosion on the Lower East Side. In one case, a data center literally had to run a manual bucket brigade to lift diesel fuel to roof-mounted generators because the fuel pumps in the sub-basement were submerged in flood water -- an act that is nothing short of heroic. However, the fact that some data centers have emerged unscathed while others succumbed -- or had to fight tooth and nail to stay online -- provides an excellent object lesson in why it's so important to evaluate a prospective facility's preparedness for the unexpected.
Although a huge array of factors goes into making a good colocation center, including intangibles such as the quality of the people running the operation and the company's financial health, the most important qualities of any data center space are power, HVAC, staffing, and fire suppression. Read on for pointers on what to look for in each of these critical areas.