Though the CAPS’ data center in Shelton employs a highly redundant design and advanced automated monitoring technology, our skilled human resources are essential to our extraordinary service delivery record. Let us look at the role people play in powering our facility.

Proper levels of power, temperature, humidity, security, and fire protection are all key to data center operations. Of these factors, a constant source of sufficient electrical power is the most critical requirement for successful operations. If there is an interruption in the flow of adequate electrical power, data centers immediately stop functioning.

Data center design includes several critical infrastructure components to deliver the power needed to assure operations. These include automatic transfer switches, redundant Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, and redundant generator systems.

In addition to these critical infrastructure systems, skilled human resources are vitally important. On-site professionals monitor infrastructure systems, oversee ongoing maintenance, and plan and implement new client installations.

At our data center in Shelton, we are fortunate that Charley (not his real name) is a key part of our team. An electrical contractor whose company did the electrical work for major hospitals and office buildings around the state, he is a licensed E1 Master electrician who applies his extensive experience to make sure our data center is always up and running.

People Provide Additional Protection

Let us look at the kinds of things Charley does. Most days he gets to the data center early to inspect the various systems. A variety of automated tools monitor all critical infrastructure systems continuously, sending real-time alerts issued whenever a threshold has been exceeded. Still, it is important for human oversight to provide an additional level of protection.

On a given day Charley may check the Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) systems for alerts or signs of a leak. He may inspect the Voice and Data (VDR) Room, the UPS room, or check the Diesel Generator systems. He also walks through the data center and checks Power Distribution Units (PDUs) in client cabinets to gauge current flows and determine if any equipment is reporting an alarm.

On a regular basis Charley uses a voltmeter, a thermal sensor, and other tools to inspect the electric panels and PDUs in the data center. Elevated temperatures detected at the various connection points may indicate an electrical component is degrading and a technician should replace it.

If an infrastructure system requires maintenance, Charley would oversee the work performed by any of the skilled technicians that support our systems. His experience is often an immense help when dealing with subcontractors. In many cases he has known these people for a long time and can help get a particular problem resolved quickly and cost-effectively.

When a new colocation client is about to move in, Charley once again has a role to play. Each client has unique power requirements. Do they require 20-amp or 30-amp service? Would they like A/B power or is a single power circuit sufficient? Is a special connector required for a client’s systems? Having a licensed electrician who can provide professional guidance and complete any required wiring is invaluable.

Decades Without a Power Outage

Connecticut is known as “The Land of Steady Habits.” This may be due to the traits associated with our Puritan forebearers. People in our state are known for being industrious and doing things the right way. Though some might say that ongoing surveillance of our data center by humans is overkill, given all the automated monitoring tools we deploy, there is no dispute about the results achieved by Charley and the rest of our team. Our data center in Shelton has not experienced an unscheduled power outage in over 20 years.

 

There are more than 100 Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in Connecticut. The state also has 17 colocation data centers. Let us consider the changing ways MSPs and colocation providers collaborate to deliver critical IT infrastructure services to Connecticut businesses.

MSPs provide a variety of information technology consulting services to clients. Some MSPs specialize in specific technologies such as virtualization, cloud migration, or cyber security. Others are experts in applications such as Salesforce CRM software or Workday ERP solutions.

Most MSPs in Connecticut serve small and mid-sized businesses. This is not surprising since there are more than 360,000 small businesses in Connecticut. This represents over 99% of all companies in the state.

Frequently MSPs fulfill the role of the Chief Technology Officer at organizations that do not have a senior IT leader on staff. In these cases, the MSP handles everything from setting up user accounts, to configuring servers, to managing firewalls, to overseeing software updates.

MSP Services Track Technology

Over the years the services provided by MSPs have evolved as technologies have changed. For example, years ago small businesses needed help setting up their email systems. This often meant the MSP had to be knowledgeable about Microsoft Exchange and how to use this on-premises application to set up and manage mailboxes for corporate accounts.

Today, as companies have moved to a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model for office applications, MSPs have pivoted to provide the support their clients now need. Though Microsoft 365 simplifies initial email configuration and relieves end-users of the on-going need to update software, MSPs are now kept busy with cloud connectivity, security, and data backup projects.

The relationship between MSPs and colocation data centers has also changed with new generations of technology. Before the cloud, MSPs counseled clients to move onsite IT systems to a colocation data center to improve performance, strengthen security, and increase flexibility. They may have procured the colocation services for resale to their clients, or they may have directed clients to a colocation provider they endorsed.

Recently, as cloud adoption has grown dramatically, MSPs have devoted increasing amounts of their attention to helping clients move to the cloud. Initially, most MSPs promoted one of the big three cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google). As experience with the cloud grew, leading MSPs developed expertise configuring hybrid cloud solutions that incorporated services from more than one public cloud provider as well as private cloud and onsite infrastructure.

MSPs Have Renewed Interest in Colocation

As cloud use has become more widespread, MSPs and their clients have learned that there are workloads that are not well-suited for the cloud. They may not perform efficiently, or they may be much more expensive in the cloud than at a colocation data center or on premises. With this change, MSPs have once again adapted to serve their clients’ needs.

Recently, CAPS has seen a marked increase in the number of MSPs who are looking for colocation services, for themselves or their clients, for those workloads that are not well suited to the cloud.