The Importance of Selecting a Host with On-Site Datacentre Staff
Having been a provider of dedicated servers since 2004 in the early days of our business many areas of service supply were outsourced, we used exclusively third party datacentres to host our hardware, other company’s networks and all of our servers were built by external suppliers. As we have grown we have tried to bring as many of these aspects in house giving us far greater control and reducing reliance on external companies to provide our services. One of the most important aspects we think is having our own staff onsite in the datacentre, there are very few providers offering this and it is one of the key factors that we think sets us apart from the competition.
What are the advantages of onsite support?
Aswell as monitoring the physical security of the datacentre having an onsite team handling your requests limits the number of people your data is potentially exposed to and gives you full oversight of who can access your data.
Onsite engineers are always going to be able to react faster to any issues that arise than those working remotely and having to pass requests through a chain of people to reach an onsite team.
Whilst monitoring systems are often comprehensive carrying out onsite visual checks of hardware can help identify issues monitoring systems may not pickup until it is too late.
We use exclusively Supermicro servers in our datacentre with most of our technicians having worked on these for many years. In a multi vendor datacentre enviroment it would be unlikely to have technicians with such a degree of familiarity to your vendor.
As onsite engineers have full visibility of customers support requests and outstanding work jobs can be prioritised for example hardware upgrades for exsisting customers carried out before the setup of new customer machines etc.
All of our onsite staff are background checked, whilst this is fairly standard across the datacentre industry by having our own staff onsite we can carry out our own checks and aren’t reliant on datacentre providers carrying out their own checks. In addition to this as we operate our own facilities we have full control over the CCTV systems, access control etc and should any issues arise we can review these recordings and logs immediately in house.
When our customers submit a support ticket or use our freephone support they come straight through to our datacentre team, meaning they are talking to an engineer normally sitting within 100 meters of their server. The benefit of this is that the engineer the customer is talking to is also likely to be the engineer that is going to be hands on resolving any problems that the customer might have. Whilst many providers may offer a 24/7/365 manned NOC or Network Operations Centre often this can be in a different town or city to where your server is located and sometimes even in another country! With remote support staff any requests for hardware upgrades are then passed on to a different team often resulting in delays and also opening up the possibility of
As a dedicated server provider we use exclusively Supermicro servers, our engineers will happily talk to (or bore) you about the latest BIOS releases for the systems that we use and developments with their latest IPMI firmware. In the event of any issues with the hardware you are using because our engineers work solely with Supermicro machines we know the systems inside out and work that might take a technician who works on other brands of equipment 30 minutes can be done in 5 by someone who has done it hundreds of times before.
When server providers are using datacentres that are often many miles from their office location it is common for components, servers and even entire racks to be shipped to the site for the onsite engineers to install, the onsite engineers will then be tasked to install components or rack servers as per the hosting providers request. By having our own site staff carry out such work we can prioritise work according to the needs of the customers, should any urgent tasks come in for customer upgrades we can easily stop working on one task and start carrying out another task if we deem it more urgent.
But is it really needed?
There is an argument to be made that modern server hardware is so reliable and with the advent of remote management systems like IPMI and IDRAC there is less of a need for onsite staff than there may have been 10 years ago.
Many of our customer’s applications and SaaS offerings also allow for failover to be built in at application level reducing the reliance on a single server and likewise many of our customer’s servers will run for years without requiring any intervention.
However for those customers with services that rely on a single server having the piece of mind that an engineer can be at your server within a few minutes is invaluable and it is for that reason we offer an industry leading one hour hardware replacement gurantee to all customers that take out dedicated servers with us.
How to tell if a provider has 24/7 onsite support?
We recently saw a provider offering a “24/7/365 Datacentre Staffing” and to an untrained eye you would think that this host had their own staff onsite. A quick lookup of the Company on the UK’s Companies House register showed in the previous year’s account the company had only reported 3 staff members. Obviously with just three staff maintaining an onsite prescense all day everday is not possible and one would assume they were claiming their 3rd party datacentre staff as their own.
Dedicated server providers are all to aware of the benefits of having their own staff onsite 24/7/365 however this is a costly exercise and not something that can be undertaken easily. As a result of this some providers will often misrepresent the levels of support and staffing that they have in order to make it look like they have onsite 24/7/365 support.