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Colocation Implementation Best Practices


Have you been in the middle of a colocation project, flown to the new data center, only to realize you didn't bring the necessary tools needed to complete your work? Have you ever been stuck waiting for hours because you forgot to reserve an elevator and you need to get some large hardware moved up a few floors from the loading dock? How about waiting for hours in the lobby because the access List was not updated correctly? GCN has a well established PMO which handles colocation implementations all over the world on a daily basis. I hope some of our past experiences help you avoid some of these issues which can certainly impact budgets and timelines.

You've picked your preferred data center, negotiated the terms of the agreements and the order has been turned in with countersigned documents in hand. Now, you need to start your project. Here are a few deliverables that should be on any check list before you come up with a project plan. Some of these may sound obvious, but the key is to account for every deliverable no matter how trivial, so you can have a truly successful implementation.

Who is supplying the racks/cabinets, make sure that the data center is given the make and model (confirm dimensions).
If you have oversized cabinets, make sure the data center accounted for the extra space in their cage space design.
Make sure you have an overhead Visio or diagram of your environment laid out in detail with the following:
Detailed layout with measurements of cage space and cabinets
Cage Door location
Specified power per cabinet
Network cabinet labeled (this is where you will deliver the cross connects)
Ladder Racking
Fiber Ducts
Hot aisle/Cold aisle
Who is supplying the PDU's (if AC power is being used)
If you are leasing cage space
Did you order a fully protected 6 sided cage or standard 4 sided cage?
Who is providing the cage materials? If the Data center, do they contract that work out?
Time frame to have the cage installed. (you may need this space for storage before racking equipment)
Are you in an earthquake prone region? Do you need Earthquake bracing? Has the cost been accounted for in your proposal?
How much secure storage does the data center have? (If you need to ship 75 pallets of cabinets and equipment the data center may not have that secure space available and other arrangements will need to be made)
How are you going to handle waste? You may have several pallets of equipment and large cardboard refuse that you need to dispose of. Who will do this? Has this cost been accounted for?
There is much more to take into consideration. Below is a link to a partial check list.

You can download the check list here.

Once you have an understanding of where everything is going to be placed and who is responsible for each deliverable, you are ready for your kick off call. The kick off call is the hand-off from the Sales team to the Implementation team. On the call you must have all the check list items we discussed above and a copy of your contract for review. From your side you should invite the below representatives. There may be individuals that have a different take on the environment and you need to ensure all parties are in agreement with what you believed you ordered. The kick off call is an important call to make sure everyone has the same understanding of the project.

Make sure you give the carrier this information on your team:

Primary Account Contact
Primary technical contact(s)
Local technical contact (if you have one)
Project Manager

Make sure you receive the following carrier contact information (as well as their back-up):

Sales Executive
Sales Engineer
Project Manager
On-site Facilities Manager
NOC organizational chart
During your call or meeting, you will need to review the contract and the business goal/purpose for turning up the environment. Review and assign deliverables, assign action items, review the rules for Access to the Data Center, understand process for deliveries, establish time frames, have each individuals contact information AS WELL AS the contact information of their back-up during an absence and an escalation list. You should also coordinate a weekly sync up call with the implementation team until the project is complete.

From this meeting you will have enough information to develop a Project Plan, you should send this out no later than 24 hours after your kick off call along with the detailed Minutes of the call. Don't ever think that the carrier remembered what you thought was important. If you want to ensure you have a successful implementation, make sure you assign a certified Project Manager from your end to make sure all parties are on track. You can find a generalized sample of a Project Plan and a kick off call minutes template here.

Have you developed a plan to get your equipment to the data center. Will you be shipping the equipment yourself? Will you be shipping standard parcel delivery or will you be using a trucking/freight service? Trucking/freight delivery will require reserving time at the loading dock, reserving the elevator and a gurney so you can get the equipment moved quickly and efficiently. If you are shipping equipment overseas this will add additional complexity to your project especially when you have to work with customs. Some countries may take longer than others and this will need to be accounted for in your implementation timeline. We highly recommend putting researching the logistics around international shipping, so you can plan accordingly.

We would love to hear about some of your implementation experiences, good and bad so we can all make sure that we can add these to our lists. Leave a comment below or feel free to contact us directly.

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Subhi Elmughrabi

Through our PMO (Project Management Office), GCN provides world-class project design and management services for businesses of all sizes, including some of the world's largest companies. We handle projects of various size and scope, from small regional installations to worldwide complex deployments.

Our PMO has established time-tested processes to ensure that your project is delivered on time and to your specifications. Our Project Managers are PMP (Project Management Professional) certified by PMI (Project Management Institute) and are required by GCN to maintain their membership and certification in good standing, ensuring they remain up-to-date on the latest PM techniques and methodologies.

In addition to the above, our P.M.P. Certified Project Managers have a minimum of 10 years of experience in telecommunications, specializing in colocation implementations and migrations, as well as disaster recovery and business continuity planning. They also manage complex voice, video, and data projects anywhere in the world, utilizing GCN's vast array of agreements and solid relationships with many colocation facilities around the world to be proactive in identifying issues and mitigating risks.

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