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Judgment Call: Is Your IT Strategic?

We’ve all had those moments: A time when we take a hard look at ourselves and we suddenly see ourselves in a new light – as others see us – and it doesn’t match up with our ideal vision.

Have you taken a hard look at your IT department? From an outsider’s perspective?  Maybe from your CIO’s eyes? When we talk to our customers, we are starting to hear more complaints from the forward-looking CIOs. They go something like this: “I need my IT staff to stop thinking about keeping the lights on and computers running and instead figuring out how they can help advance our top line goals….or impact bottom-line.”

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Considering Going to the Dark Side? The Hidden Costs of Dark Fiber

Remember “dark fiber?” Well it’s back.

Quick history lesson for those not familiar with this telecom buzz word. Dark fiber was a hot topic during the dot-com days of the late 1990’s. Telecoms, railroads and other large utilities planned for growth and increased demand of their optical fiber networks by laying down extra, unlit fiber cables. When the bubble burst and advancements such as Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) allowed carriers to get more out of their existing lit cables, network owners began selling off their unused optical networks – thus the term “dark” fiber.

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Beyond Viruses and Bots: Real Risks You Might Be Missing

We are all aware of the slew of network security issues facing organizations today. It seems like every other day there’s a new security breach in the news – take the recent hackers breaking into Sony’s PlayStation site and the Epsilon phishing campaign.

But while things like bots, viruses and hackers are well-known, we are starting to see less obvious risks come up that have a significant impact on an enterprise’s or a school’s information systems.

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CenturyLink Acquires Savvis

You may recall back in April we announced that CenturyLink would be acquiring Savvis. Today, we are pleased to announce the acquisition is official and represents a strong strategic combination for our business customers.

Savvis is a well-respected name in the enterprise space and this move makes sense in a lot of ways. Because we have minimal customer overlap, this marriage has many benefits for businesses including:

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Looking Ahead: Cloud

If you are a regular ThinkGig reader, you know we love to talk cloud. Since there is so much discussion around the players in the cloud market and how service providers like us will fit in, we thought it might be interesting to share where we see ourselves headed.

Andrew Higginbotham is the chief architect of our plans for cloud services. He recently sat down with Lisa Pierce of Strategic Networks Group for an interview that appeared in No Jitter.

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How to Select a Colocation Provider: Comparing Wholesale, Carrier-Owned and Managed Service Options

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a data center and colocation?

While a data center is a physical building with the power infrastructure, cooling resources, security measures, colocation is a service based on the standards, policies, procedures, people and data center infrastructure. The quality of each of these components drives the overall end-user experience, as does the type of provider you choose.

Colocation is defined by three components: space, power and cooling. Space, measured by square foot or meter, is delivered in either cages or racks. Power is critical, because without it, there is no colocation offering. It is a robust combination of utility, generators, uninterruptible power supply and distribution at the circuit level to customer equipment. Cooling helps drive efficiencies and deliver greater data center densities, which translates into potential savings to the end-users. Combined, these three elements are a very sellable commodity.

In colocation, core competencies such as security, facility management and carrier access should be table stakes. These required items can make or break the experience. Clients benefit from these offerings and can focus their efforts and resources on managing and growing their business.

The client’s core business is at the pinnacle of its priority list and all aspects of the colocation experience must adequately support that. A colocation provider should deliver the stable foundation on which the client can execute on its IT strategy or e-commerce platform.

But how do you select a colocation provider? Which one should you choose? Let’s look at the three primary types of colocation providers:

Real estate investment trust (REIT) or wholesale colocation providers These providers want only to build data centers to their or your design, then lease you the whole site, floor or large powered suite. They deliver a building with the cooling and power distribution to the floor, but the client must distribute and manage delivery to the racks, as well as manage the entire space. This type of colocation is sold at commodity prices because you, the client, do everything! The client in this case bears a good amount of the time and costs to operate the data center.

Carrier-owned providers – Here, colocation can be viewed as the loss leader that the carrier uses to also sell its core service (network access). These providers offer a greater array of services that are directly enjoyed by the client, but limited carrier diversity can hamper choice and network growth.

Retailers/managed service providers – These providers, such as Savvis, have refined the commodity, distribute and manage the power and cooling to the racks, provide the racks and cages, and offer cabling, remote hands and support services. Levels of competency, ability and delivery of the end-user experience are the differentiators. As a refined product, this type of colocation carries higher prices than the wholesale proposition, so it’s important to carefully examine how the providers differentiate themselves and show value-add over and above the other players.

With a commodity, price is almost everything. With colocation, a greater importance is placed on value adds like capacity, connectivity, location and the human factor, all well before pricing. In fact, as Tim Anker from Colocation Exchange notes, pricing is fifth on the list of key decision factors.

In the end, your level of expectation and need for levels of service should dictate your decision on which type of provider you choose – not the price. 

A wholesale colocation provider likely will not offer power and capacity planning to accommodate for future needs. Security – not just a video of the halls and access ways, but complete security to the cage or rack level, etc. – also will be lacking. You will want to ask about network connectivity and proximity, onsite 24/7 support and flexible contract terms (typically one to three years with a managed service provider compared to about five to 15 years with a REIT).

Using a wholesaler may come with hidden costs as well. These may include:

  • Client costs for data center design, capacity, power, security and space management
  • Third party resources or internal staff who are required to travel to provide routine maintenance or upgrades
  • Network connectivity to multiple carriers – local loops as opposed to cross connects from within the suite
  • Staffing and training
  • Managed hosting and cloud services

I hope you now have a clearer understanding of the differences between full-service and other colocation providers, and know what to look for when selecting a colocation provider.

Colocation is a service. That service is based on the standards, policies, procedures, people and the data center infrastructure. The quality of each of these components drives the overall end-user experience.

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Five Tips for Moving to IPv6

Here at ThinkGig, we’ve been covering IPv6 and why businesses should be thinking about it. In addition to traditional businesses, this is a critical issue for state and local governments and public education, because the fear is that some people will have trouble signing onto public websites and getting access to critical information.

So what should you do to make sure that you are prepared? Here are five tips we think are a good place to start:

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World IPv6 Day

As you may know, today is World IPv6 Day and we are excited to participate in this “test flight” to promote the transition to IPv6.

If you are not familiar, World IPv6 Day is organized by The Internet Society (ISOC). It is a 24-hour trial to motivate Internet service providers, network operators, operating system vendors and web companies to prepare their services for IPv6 and ensure a successful transition as the world’s supply of IPv4 address space runs out.

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