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Choosing the right CSP – how important are multiple sites?

Pulsant

By Russel Ridgley, Head of Cloud Services at Pulsant

Selecting the right cloud service provider or colocation partner is a complex task that can have long-term consequences on different aspects of your business. Two of the most important considerations are security and availability. You need assurances that your provider has the expertise, experience and resource to cope with these demands, as well as any number of other issues that relate to your business’ data and applications.

To some extent evaluating a vendor’s credentials – ISO 271001, ISO 9001, CSA STAR– can allay fears and inspire confidence that they are capable of doing what they say they can. However, there are other factors to consider and while price always plays a role in decision-making, it shouldn’t be the sole element.

Selecting the right cloud service provider … can have long-term consequences on different aspects of your business.

Being assured that your data and / or systems are always safe from cyber criminals and always available, your provider should also be offering a comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) and back up service. And this is where the differentiation between single site operators and multiple site operators becomes apparent.

Fact: data centres do fail, whether it’s a glitch in a single server to a complete fall over, and therefore your data needs to be protected. So if you’ve chosen a small or start-up data centre provider due to favourable pricing and even if it meets security and availability requirements, you should be asking questions about DR and back up.

…your provider should be offering a comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) and back up service …this is where the differentiation between single site operators and multiple site operators becomes apparent.

Trusting a provider with multiple data centre sites ensures that your data will always be safe – whether it is backed up to a site across the country or one within commutable distance, if one data centre in the network experiences issues, there are seamless plans in place to deal with them. That’s not to say that single site operators cannot cater for DR and back up. It simply means that the options for these services are limited and while data may be backed up and a DR site is available, it is outsourced and therefore possibly open to other issues surrounding security and the type and effectiveness of the DR itself.

Single data centre site operators also may struggle to offer you and your business the opportunity to scale. The worst case scenario is that you will have to migrate your entire IT infrastructure across to a new provider who can properly deal with your growing needs. This, however, is time and cost intensive and essentially means that you have go through the process of selecting a cloud service provider all over again.

[If] it is outsourced [it is] possibly open to other issues surrounding security and the type and effectiveness of the DR itself.

Ultimately the business model of the single site operator may not be sustainable. It has neither the resources nor benefit of economies of scale when it comes to purchasing power, investment in infrastructure, etc., which means that the cost savings normally associated with these things cannot be passed back onto the customer. While costs may initially be low on sign up, they will need to sharply increase in order for the operator to maintain its profitability. And if it can’t… the result could be a move to a new provider anyway as unprofitable data centres, as with any business, do not last long.