It is impossible to declare a list of “top” data centers that will satisfy everyone’s criteria. In terms of sq
uare footage or availability of computing resources, most of the “top” data centers in the world today are dedicated to the internal operations of major corporations and government entities; they are not available to the public for colocation. The ideal data center selection will vary considerably, depending upon the unique requirements of different customers at different stages of growth.
Very small organizations are best suited to hosted cloud infrastructures with no physical hardware owned by the customer; very large organizations may need dedicated data centers that are entirely owned and operated by the company. Some data centers claim to be a “top” choice because they offer the latest technologies such as hydrogen backup power or greener thermal management systems, but what really matters is that your servers stay online.
For this list, we deem a data center worthy of our “top” rating when it is a recommended choice for an “average” customer, seeking between 1 and 42 units of rack space and 1 to 10 megabits of available bandwidth. The data center must offer unescorted 24/7 access, network latency of less than 30ms, on-site support staff and a reliability rating of at least TIA-942 tier 3 (meaning the customer can tolerate up to 1.6 hours of downtime annually). This suits an internet-driven company who needs a secure, reliable, high-bandwidth home for their most critical servers. These are data centers with a proven track record of delivering quality services at acceptable price points.
The main factors a company should consider when sourcing a data center are :
• cost / value
• network reliability and performance
• security, including disaster recovery solutions
• environment conditioning (thermal control, air contamination, power quality)
• availability of special services such as monitoring, network engineering, support etc.
Cost is of course the single most important factor; a company must select a solution that makes budgetary sense. As we are looking at colocation service, the location must be accessible to technical staff while being close to major internet peering points; in Canada, the primary locations are Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (in the USA, network fabric and data center locations are much more widely distributed). Network performance must be on par with other major data centers, with a good record of reliability. Scalability ensures the customer can grow (or shrink) according to it’s realworld needs over time. Effective security is vital to prevent unauthorized access to company resources, and environmental conditioning ensures colocated equipment operates normally.
#1 : Peer 1 – http://www.peer1.net
Peer1 is our favorite data center overall. They have facilities in Toronto, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Jose and Seattle. The technical and support staff are generally excellent, and the pipe is fast and reliable. Peer1 offers an almost unheard-of zero-downtime Service Level Agreement (SLA). Peer1 is a great vendor for quality bandwidth at low cost for organizations requiring 1-100 megabits of unmetered internet access. They have recently been concentrating on managed hosting and cloud services, but we think their best offering is “plain old” colocation. Some Peer1 data centers can be a little messy, with occasional environmental issues and often no 24/7 on-site support staff — but overall Peer1 offers excellent value.
#2 : InterLink – http://www.iplink.net
This small data center is located at 44 Victoria in Toronto. If you’re in Toronto and you don’t need to be at 151 Front Street, InterLink might be a cost-effective alternative. The data center is by no means state-of-the-art, and you’ll be 1-2 hops away from most of the major peers — but the cost savings might make this alternative worthwhile for you, especially if your technical staff are located in the downtown core.
#3 : Equinix (Switch & Data) – http://www.equinix.com
Equinix offers a huge choice of peering providers, for those customers who consume a lot of bandwidth or seek the multi-homed connectivity options provided by being located in a major peering data center. Data centers are located in Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Seattle and Toronto. For smaller organizations, it’s generally best to find a reseller located in your facility of choice.
#4 : YesUp – http://www.yesuphost.com
YesUp can offer some good colocation deals for a mid-sized internet-driven business in Toronto. Facilities are nothing special, but the pricing is very attractive.
#5 : iWeb – http://www.iweb.com
iWeb offers some budget-friendly deals on colocation and dedicated servers; they are quite popular for low-end colocation needs, starting from a single unit of rack space – however their four data center locations are in Montreal.
#6 : Verizon (formerly MCI) – http://www.verizonbusiness.com
MCI historically has had some of the best pipe, and their SAS-70 compliant data centers are robust and well-managed. The network has an excellent uptime record with some of the best latencies around. However, their burstable plans are on the expensive side; contracts generally “lock in” the customer at a commited bandwidth rate plus an additional rate for bursting. With MCI, this rate generally increases with the amount of bandwidth used, which means a growing company (or an unplanned anomaly on the network) can result in a huge bandwidth overage bill. Make sure your network is restricted (by contract and/or hardware/software bandwidth rate limiting solutions) from consuming excessive bandwidth.
#7 : Softlayer – http://www.softlayer.com
SoftLayer focuses on commodity dedicated servers. Initial pricing is attractive, but extras such as bandwidth and high-end storage/processor components can quickly inflate the monthly bill. Data centers are located in several US states; they now provide offshore locations as well.
# 8 : capPOP – http://www.calpop.com
CalPOP has good pricing on basic dedicated servers and location in it’s Los Angeles data center. Watch out for expensive additional fees. If you use their hardware, be sure to run consistency checks on the memory and hard discs.
#9 : RackSpace – http://www.rackspace.com
RackSpace offers managed servers only, and has rather absurd pricing — buttheir support is somewhat above-average. Perhaps a choice for those who aren’t comfortable maintaining their own server infrastructure. You’ll pay a premium for hosting here, but you’ll get an answer to your technical support in under 15 minutes by someone who understands English.
#10 : Layered Tech – http://www.layeredtech.com
Layered Tech is an option for customers who need assistance with compliance management, such as PCI and HIPAA. Of course, you’ll pay a premium for this service.
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