There are numerous choices when selecting a hosting facility with a wide variety of products and services and not all are equal. Therefore the right questions have to be asked.

First and foremost to me is the facility’s internet connectivity. In particular:

  • Which provider provides the connectivity?

  • What is the bandwidth capacity?

  • How much of the capacity is currently being used?

  • Are there multiple providers, including automatic failover?

  • Are there multiple entry points into the building?

The big points here are that the facility has direct internet connectivity to more than one of the Tier 1 providers (UUnet, Sprint Corp, AT&T Corp, Genuity Inc., Cable & Wireless, Broadwing and several others, including Qwest,  Level3 , William Communications and Hurricane Electric) and that there are multiple entrances into the building. Having been in New York I’ve seen the results of what seemed like incessant digging in the street.

Next up for me is backup power.

  • What is the facility’s backup power infrastructure?

  • What is their backup power capacity? Is it enough to power the facility?

  • Do they have redundant sources of backup power?

  • How long can they power the facility with the fuel supply they have on hand?

  • Do they test the backup power failover? How often? What are the results?

Again, having been in New York during 9/11 and a major blackout, I’ve learned that these issues are important. While both of my facilities didn’t have any issues during these events I was certainly well aware of some that did.

Now we get to some of the second level, but still extremely important areas including:

  • Reputation

    • What is their reputation? Who else do they host?

  • Security

    • How secure is the building?

    • How do they screen employees?

  • Geographic and physical location
    • Is the area prone to any type of natural disaster that could affect the building and/or power?

    • Is proximity to you important?

  • Facility monitoring

    • How are potential issues monitored and addressed? Connectivity, physical plant issues, etc.

    • What is the training of the staff?

  • Fire prevention

    • What are the fire/smoke detection systems?

    • What is the fire suppression system?

  • Financial stability

    • How long has the company been around?

    • Are they financially stable?

  • Contracts and SLAs

    • Can you lock in pricing?

    • Are there huge price increases for exceeding bandwidth usage?

    • When and how can you increase your bandwidth?

    • Are the SLAs reasonable and compensate you fairly for outages?

  • Wattage requirements

    • Are there restrictions on how much wattage you use per rack or cage?

  • Growth potential

    • Does the facility have room for growth?

    • Will the facility have room for your growth?

  • General conditions

    • How does the facility look? New and well-maintained or shabby?

    • Are policies enforced?

  • Costs

    • How do the costs compare with other facilities?

  • IP addresses

    • What is the facility’s policy on IP address allocation?

    • Can you readily and easily obtain additional addresses when needed?

  • Special requirements

    • Do you have PCI, CISP, ISO, HIPAA and SARBANES-OXLEY compliance requirements?

  • Managed Hosting and Remote Hands support

    • Is the facility staffed to provide responsive and quality technical support when needed?

So, there are many factors to consider when selecting a hosting/co-location provider. Since every situation is different, the weighting of these factors will be different and therefore must be carefully considered in every situation.