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What Is a Data Center?

In the modern world, the importance of data cannot be underestimated. All businesses – big and small – rely on data one way or another to execute their daily operations.

“Today, every company is a data company. Whether they know it or not.” – Forbes

Therefore, data storage is important, whether you know it or not.

The majority of businesses choose to house their data in an off-site data center. In this article, we’ll breakdown what a data center actually is, what its functions are, and how it can help SMBs thrive in the contemporary business landscape.

What is a data center?

Put simply, a data center is a facility that businesses and organizations use to store their networks, applications, and data.

Modern data centers look quite different from those that dominated the market just a few years ago. Today, traditional on-site infrastructure and physical servers have given way to virtualized, cloud-based infrastructure.

These cutting-edge centers support applications and networks across a whole selection of geographically distinct infrastructure. They stretch through public and private clouds via computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. They are in a continual state of flux, offering users an unprecedented level of flexibility and scalability.

Why do data centers matter to businesses?

Data centers are essential to businesses of all sizes and scopes, operating across countless industries and sectors. Why? Because they support business-critical operations, applications, and activities, such as:

  • File Sharing and collaboration services for enhanced workplace productivity
  • Email
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Communication services, such as VoIP
  • Productivity applications
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Big data

Data center components

A whole lot rides on a data center’s ability to deliver its service quickly, efficiently, and reliably. To achieve this, data center design typically includes the following components:

  • Routers
  • Firewalls
  • Storage systems
  • Servers
  • Switches
  • Application delivery controllers

Vitally, these components must be protected with state-of-the-art security defenses. Six out of every ten businesses have experienced a data breach in the last three years – with so much at stake, data storage providers are continually updating their software, technology, and even physical practices (locks, surveillance, and even security guards) to minimize risk.

What supports the components of a data center?

The hardware and software components of a data center demand significant resources and infrastructure. To ensure they continue functioning at peak performance – even during power outages, severe weather events, and other interruptions – data centers usually include:

  • Power subsystems
  • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)
  • Fire suppressions systems
  • Advanced cooling systems
  • Ample ventilations
  • Backup generators
  • Connections to external networks and other centers

Are data centers subject to industry standards?

Yes. Businesses, organizations, and even governments rely on data centers in order to undertake their daily operations. What’s more, data centers are often tasked with housing private or sensitive information; information that, if it found its way into malicious hands, could be used for nefarious purposes.

The most common standard for data center design is ANSI/TIA-942. This ensures compliance with one of four categories:

  • Tier 1 – Basic site infrastructure. Tier 1 data centers provide limited protection against physical threats, such as in-person security breaches and natural disasters.
  • Tier 2 – Redundant-capacity component site infrastructure. Tier 2 data centers safeguard data against most physical events.
  • Tier 3 – Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure. Tier 3 data centers protect data against almost all physical events. What’s more, most components used in the center can be replaced without causing downtime.
  • Tier 4 – Fault-tolerant site infrastructure. Tier 4 data centers offer the highest level of protection against physical events. All components used in the center can be removed, replaced, upgraded, or repaired without causing disruption to the end user’s experience.

Considering a data center for your business? GroupOne can answer any questions you might have – reach out today.

5 Qualities That Make a Good IT Consultant

Are you considering hiring an IT consultant for your business? You’re in the right place.

As IT consultants ourselves, this is something we know a lot about. And, in today’s blog, we’re going to be talking about the five key qualities that make a good IT consultant — and why they matter. 

Here they are:

1. The ability to ask the right questions — and then listen to the answers

When an IT consultant begins a new project, they need to figure out several things before they can get started.

Each business is unique. Each has different needs and priorities. What matters to one business might not matter to the next.

It’s important for an IT consultant to avoid making any assumptions. This can affect the success of a project before it’s even begun.

Instead, the consultant needs to know the right questions to ask. They need to be able to extract just the right amount of information from project stakeholders.

But there’s something else too: A good IT consultant will listen to the answers.

An article in the Harvard Business Review highlighted this recently, claiming an inability to focus on the client’s needs is one of the biggest reasons consultants fail:

“It’s the most basic principle of entrepreneurship: you can only successfully sell what your client wants to buy.”

2. Excellent communication skills

Following on from the above, IT consultants need to be skilled communicators. This includes figuring out how much technical information the stakeholders can understand.  They need to be able to deliver the right amount of technicality to each stakeholder.

This isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

The consultant must simplify information to the appropriate level. If they deliver technical information to non-technical stakeholders, it’s likely important things will be lost in translation.

Similarly, delivering simple information to technical stakeholders can result in frustration and a lack of confidence.

3. Expertise and experience

This should go without saying, but with the rise of “IT gurus” online, it’s easy for people with little experience to market themselves as experts.

If you’re considering hiring a consultant for your business, it’s important you to verify their expertise and experience before you commit.

How long have they been working as a consultant? What was their experience before that? Where have they studied? How do they keep up to date with current trends?

These are all questions you should be asking before you engage with an IT consultant.

4. Trustworthiness

A good IT consultant is trustworthy. Not only that, but they should be able to demonstrate their trustworthiness with past results and testimonials from happy clients.

When this information is lacking, it should act like a big, red flag that the IT consultants don’t have the skills and expertise you’re looking for.

5. Flexibility

Finally, a good IT consultant is flexible. They are able to adapt to any business, quickly picking up on the unique aspects and nuances that make the organization different from the rest.

As Jon Younger said in a recent Forbes article: “Naturally, over time skill requirements for independent consultants change as project themes change.”

Good IT consultants keep learning. They adapt as the industry changes and learn new skills as they’re required.

They’re not rigid in their approach. They start by learning more about how your business works. And then they tailor their tried and tested approach to work for your organization.

They prioritize connection — ensuring your needs come above all else.

If you’re looking for an IT consultant that can help you scale your business, these qualities are essential. 

They will ensure the consultant forms a solid understanding — starting from where you are now and taking you to where you need to be (and beyond).
Do you need to know more about this? Get in touch using our contact page — we’d love to hear your thoughts.