Is Tech Space Adequate for Your Needs?

August 25, 2015
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Q: I lease space in an office building for my day-to-day operations, but I’d like to move our computer equipment off-site to a data center that’s specifically set up to handle the needs of sensitive technology. What should I look for in such a property?

A: Data centers—commercial buildings that house banks of remote computer storage for businesses that are located elsewhere—have grown since the tech boom of the 1990s, when they first popped up to provide space where tenants could plug in their servers. Some large tenants that need data center services own their own facilities. But it sounds like your needs are smaller, so you’ll want to look for space in a data center that may also rent space to several other tenants.

Typically, a convenient, central location ranks high on the wish lists of tenants that are shopping for space. But because you’re a data center tenant, the location of your space should be only one of several items on the checklist of attributes and services the property must have. In fact, you might not want a centralized, traditionally “desirable” location. Out-of-the-way industrial buildings or those without windows are commonly used as data centers.

But buildings used as data centers are also very specialized. Data center leases aren’t fundamentally different from leases for office space; rather, it’s a question of finding a facility with the right availability of services and making sure that those services are provided for in the lease. When shopping for space for your remote computer storage, make sure that a prospective data center property has the following elements:

Electricity. Data center tenants have a high need for electricity, so clarify that the property will have enough electricity and that the price is affordable.

Weather- and casualty-proof. Ideally, a data center would be in an area that isn’t susceptible to weather events that would threaten to damage equipment, like flooding from hurricanes or earthquakes. Look for a property in a location where it’s less likely that there’ll be a weather event that will compromise the building. Many data center operators are national companies with locations in areas with mild weather. Ask about protection from other casualties unrelated to weather, including whether the property has a fire-suppression system.

Back-up generators. If there’s a power outage, you want to make sure that your data and equipment won’t be affected.

Air conditioning. You’ll also want to make sure that air conditioning will be available 24 hours a day and that there’s supplemental air conditioning in the building.

Advanced security. Not only is the computer equipment you plan to store at the data center expensive, it also may contain private information. Make sure that security goes above and beyond that for an ordinary office building. At the very least, the property should have security guards and cameras.