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Also posted on: IT Infrastructure
Data centre operators repeatedly tell me that the era of “build it and they will come” has gone. Their offers are more nuanced now: pay-as-you use power, more flexibility around rack density, direct connectivity to the major public cloud providers, smart hands services, low latency network connectivity, low PUE rating and cross-connects. I could go on. This is all good and has worked well in pulling in the network operators, content distribution networks and cloud providers for whom data centres are a critical component of their customer offer.
Now attention is switching to the Enterprise. At a macro level Globalisation, Consumerisation, Cloud, Big Data, IoT and DevOps all point to massive changes in Enterprise IT environments and the growing realisation that existing IT infrastructure, including the in-house data centre, is no longer fit for purpose. That should be good news for third party data centre operators. Indeed the market is growing and investment in data centre new builds carries on apace. But that good news should be tempered with the reality that there will be a few winners and a lot of others scrabbling for a living.
An Enterprise CIO does not wake up on Monday morning and say “I need some co-lo, some hosting or maybe a new data centre”. Ultimately, decisions the CIO takes will almost certainly lead to different data centre requirements. But, if you haven’t been involved helping the CIO make those decisions, it’s too late. You’ll be entering into a beauty parade with most, or all of those flexible offers you have spent months and years refining, seen as little more than table stakes. In effect you have still built on the basis they will come. Only this time you are standing alongside a line of other operators all offering something very similar.
Most CIOs face a series of challenges in working out what existing applications can be moved to the cloud, what new ones need to be developed, what can be ditched and what legacy apps need to maintained. This is made more complex by the questions around providing a consistent experience for customers globally and by the need to take account of data governance rules and regulations. As a data centre operator you may think you can’t help with these decisions. The truth is, one way or another, you have to!
Call it channels, partners, alliances, networks or eco-systems…you have to make it easy for the CIO to get access to the best advice and the best resources. You also have to make it easy for those key providers helping CIOs to do business with you. It sounds like an eco-system or marketplace to me. One or two data centre operators developed these a few years ago on the basis of “build it and they will come”. That didn’t work, but they are finding that a carefully thought out and nurtured channel strategy is beginning to deliver big rewards.
This post first appeared on the old Cassini Reviews website.