By James Carlini
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about being disappointed by not being
able to visit a PEAK 10 data center in Tampa to get a first-hand view of
their services after an executive scheduled a meeting with me. This
article brought in more feedback than I ever thought I would get.
Several calls came in within 15 minutes of publication, including one
from an IBM executive. People had a lot to say about watching claims
made within the data center services arena.
The prior article was about being frustrated for not being able to walk
through a facility that I first had a positive impression of. Some
respondents said that most companies will have some type of data center
brag-path that you can walk through just to get an overview of services.
PEAK 10 did not offer that.
From others involved in data center services, I got the impression that
you better make sure you do some due diligence before selecting a
third-party and turning over your mission critical applications. There
is a lot of hype out there with claims of reliability and redundancy
without real resources.
As more corporate organizations look for outsourced facilities, they
better make sure they are getting what they are paying for.
Here is a portion of a long letter from a local reader that really
highlighted what I thought were some of the issues:
"Your instincts were right on - there is most definitely a wide
variation in the caliber of the data center from one company to
another, and often in between data centers of the same company
It is a highly recommended best practice to go and see your specific
data center as part of contracting due diligence. You learn a lot
within the first five minutes you are there about how well they run
their shop and how secure/safe your assets really are.
Different data centers have different regulations regarding visitors.
The better (more secure) ones are often legitimately quite strict about
who has access to the facility. For example, I had to be approved by my
client contact and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to gaining
access to the data center and I was never allowed out on the floor
without an Exodus employee being with me at all times. They were very
sensitive about cameras (none were allowed). That being said
Most data centers have a "brag path" through the facility that allows
visitors (once they have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement) to get a
feel for the size and caliber of the operation without getting too
close to anything. Typically, you are not on the floor but rather get a
chance to see things from hallways through windows and such. This is
SOP if someone has a nice data center and has nothing to hide. That
they didn't do this for you should indeed raise red flags."
A Colorado reader, who has several decades of IT experience, wrote:
"That will be the last time they string you along without giving it
I agree with you, most companies are always trying to parade their
facilities to people it makes for free advertising.
Trite phrases like "customer privacy" are put-offs. The data center,
by its very nature, ensures privacy unless you are showing up with a
laptop and planning to do some major downloads and hacking in their
presence. So what are they hiding? Hmmm?
Would be real surprised if you don't get something from them,
conciliatory or nasty. Either way, PEAK may be more NADIR; they
certainly are in their primal business and customer services skills."
Another industry veteran, who has decades of facilities planning for
mission critical infrastructure, including several major hospitals and
airports in the United States and abroad, simply wrote:
"Impressive ink and unfortunately deserved. Too bad for them."
I'm not Rain Man
Without belaboring the points raised by the readers, I did not get a
good impression of what PEAK 10 claimed they had in terms of facilities,
and I would be very suspect of what they list in their marketing
materials and what is actually out on the floor. As another industry
veteran put it, "Give me a better answer. I didn't fall down in
With the need to really understand what you are getting in data centers,
if you cannot walk through it, walk past it.
CARLINI-ISM: If you can't walk through it, walk past it.
James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, and is
president of Carlini & Associates. He can be reached at james.carlini
(at) sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at
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