When a company entrusts their data and systems to a data center hosting provider, they need to be sure that the engineering and operational support teams have excellent knowledge and execution skills in specific responsibility deliverables. Within each deliverable area, the execution of tactical and strategic responsibilities need to meet the company’s business plan, audit standards and application design. Support teams should have extensive knowledge and experience in the following:
Rule # 1: Data Backup and Restore Capabilities
The most basic requirement of a hosting provider is to retain a company’s data. The support teams must understand data structures and file system architectures which enable it to deliver excellent Backup and Restore Capabilities for your data. There are many data design architectures; for example, flat file systems, indexed file systems, relational databases, object oriented database, etc. Each of these require specific types of backup techniques. When executed properly, these techniques will allow your provider to restore consistent and usable data when the need arises.
Rule # 2: Physical and Logical Security
Any data center must maintain Physical and Logical Security of your data and systems. Audit standards and business plans require various levels of security. System designs need to be built appropriately using tools and techniques that overlay the audit and business plans. Designs and tools such as, Tiered DMZs, Intrusion Prevention systems ( both network and operating system based ), Web layer security, etc., need to be implemented and integrated appropriately within each Company’s application architecture.
Rule # 3: Problem Determination
No matter how much money and thought is poured into your application and system architectures/plans, items will break or go awry. That is when you need a knowledgeable, committed engineering and support staff to do problem determination resolving the issue as quickly as possible. Engineers must have deep knowledge and skills in hardware, operating systems, network engineering, database engineering, messaging systems, disk storage systems, etc. These skills will allow your provider to operate under pressure during priority 1 problem situations. A 24/7 network operations center (NOC) should only be a phone call away to ensure quick escalation as needed.
Rule # 4: Problem Escalation
Engineers and Operational technicians need to “know when to say when” while doing problem determination. They also must ensure proper problem escalation procedures have been executed. These procedures are both internal within the data center organization, as well as, external to the Customer.
Rule # 5: Change Management
Wrap all of the above into a well-defined, documented and approved change management process. These procedures will meet internal data center guidelines and may also follow customer process definition.