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Also posted on: IT Infrastructure
There are only so many ways you can describe a data centre, and even fewer ways of describing it differently from any other. Unless you bury it in a nuclear bunker for security, place it near to the Arctic Circle and natural energy sources to reduce power costs, or make it a hub for inter-connectivity, anything you say to describe it will be very much of a muchness…not to you maybe, after all it is your baby, but to the people who ultimately matter…your customers.
Customers don’t wake up one morning and say “I need a data centre” and they certainly don’t say they need one with free air cooling, n+n redundant power supplies and a choice of 8 different carriers. Their issues and concerns are far more likely to be framed around a particular business problem. It will be about spotting and taking advantage of new business opportunities, or streamling their business in the face of global competition. It might be about reacting to changing legislation or entering a new geography.
Many of these business issues will have implications for IT. Can I develop and deploy new applications fast enough to take advantage of new market trends? How can I share information with my partners to help streamline my operations? How can I assure the regulators that my customer data is secure? How can I reduce the cost of my IT operation and still deliver the applications and information my business demands?
The IT industry promotes a bewildering array of options for businesses trying to rise to the challenges they face. Public, private and hybrid clouds are just the headlines below which sit technical and architectural considerations to which there are many potential answers. While some large enterprises may have the skills and knowledge to work through the options and move forward many are struggling with the age-old “how do I get there from here”. Therein lies the opportunity for data centre operators to help answer that question.
I have often heard sales teams say they can’t connect what they see as a commoditised technology offering to customers’ business issues. What they fail to see is the opportunity to help the customer make the connection and translate what you provide into something tangible they understand. Along the way you will see who you need to partner with, and what new skills and features you need to deploy to address the actual business need. It is no coincidence that data centre operators are looking to buy consultancies who can help customers make the move to the cloud, or get into a wider array of cloud and managed services.
Even if your strategy is to remain firmly a co-location provider you still need to frame your offering in terms of the customer’s business issue or find people to help you do it. Otherwise you will be the last thing they look at. Often they will be looking at very glossy selfies. Pictures of data centres that all look the same, offering features that are very similar and once the customer has ticked the essential to have box it may well just come down to a price fight.
Image credit: Merlijn Hoek
This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.