Are Data Centers The Future Shopping Malls Of The Tech World?
More and more frequently, multi-tenant data centers are becoming completely service neutral in order to boost their performance and their attractiveness to potential customers. This may seem counter intuitive because it’s assumed that a data center that can offer its own managed services or cloud platforms has turned itself into a convenient one-stop shop, but this model actually hurts both the customer and the data center, and customers are becoming wise to this fact.
Nowadays, when a company shops around for data center services, service neutrality has jumped to the top of their list of requirements. Why? The larger the pool of managed service providers (MSP) and carriers they have to choose from, the more these providers compete for their business, the better the product, and the lower the price. Cloud service providers (CSP), MSPs, and value added resellers (VAR) in particular choose data center partners that don’t offer anything besides colocation to avoid putting themselves in direct competition with any services offered by the house and to maximize their sales opportunities. In this new model, data centers turn into eco-centers for CSPs, MSPs, and VARs that mutually benefit all parties involved. And the data centers themselves can focus on what they do best: colocation.
CAN’T COLOCATION DATA CENTERS DO IT ALL?
To successfully run a reliable data center, it takes an enormous amount of time, resources, effort and, above all, focus. Well-run colocation data centers are hard enough to find and spread thin enough as it is. When additional tasks are piled on top of the operations and service delivery functions, attention will split, mistakes will become more likely, and service delivery suffers. In a study on multitasking by the National Institutes of Health, it was found that for every additional cognitive task a person attempts to juggle, his or her performance in each task will degrade. In a data center, this manifests in reduced efficiency and an increased failure rate, neither of which outcomes are favorable for an enterprise that is responsible for millions of dollars of their customers’ assets. Trying to be all things to everyone rarely works over the long term.
COMPETING WITH THE HOUSE
Unplanned outages aren’t the only detriment to the old multi-service data center model. For any MSP, VAR, or CSP, imagine colocating at a data center that offers the same services. In that model, who gets preference? The answer is the house. The data center’s sales staff will be promoting their own company and services, and it will be all but impossible to toss your name in the ring. As for the rest of the data center customers, they’re offered one or two white-labeled services sold to them at a premium, without any actual value added. This echoes back to the old days before network carrier neutrality became commonplace in the data center industry. When data centers only offered one network carrier, they pigeon-holed their customers, leaving them vulnerable to higher costs, latency problems, and unplanned outages if the carrier happens to go down unexpectedly. It is now widely accepted that the more telecom options provided, the better, and now managed services and cloud services are being thought of in the same light.
AN OPEN MARKETPLACE
Imagine for a moment that you are in the food court of a shopping mall with your family. You’re watching your cholesterol, your wife is determined to eat something new and exciting, your son is vegan, and your daughter never deviates from plain cheese pizza. One size never fits all, and luckily in this situation, there are a multitude of convenient choices. Everyone can get exactly what they want and need, and they can virtually pick their price. Data centers should emulate the shopping mall. They provide the space and utilities for their tenants to function, and even facilitate business transactions. Just as the mall doesn’t have to concern itself with flipping burger patties and can focus on facilitating a smooth customer experience, the data center can hone their attention on maintaining uptime for its clients, allowing them to pick the MSPs, VARs, and CSPs according to their specific needs. The ability for customers to craft a tailored IT solution for themselves becomes easier, enabling their efficiency to skyrocket.
THE FUTURE OF CONVENIENCE AND CHOICES
As millennials enter the marketplace and snowball into a driving force, the “Amazon model” of convenience and choices will be favored. Baby Boomers might drive around for two hours to every shop in their area to get the best deal on a limited selection and only save a dollar (meanwhile spending five dollars on gas), whereas millenials see something they want, use an app to comparison shop from wherever, on whatever device, click, and buy within minutes.
Data centers are not immune to this new push for convenience, and frankly, this trend introduces a smarter, better way to colocate. In this new model, colocated customers benefit from a wider selection, a lower price, and convenient access to whatever services they might need. MSPs, CSPs, and VARs benefit from increased exposure to new leads, access to other service providers to enhance their offerings, and unhindered cross connections to their fellow data center tenants. And the data centers themselves benefit from refocusing on their mission to provide continuous uptime, which, if done right, deserves their full attention.
This new model of multi-tenant data center manages to provide colocation customers with a true one-stop-shop, not by doing more, but by re-orienting itself around their foundational core competency and letting the drive for convenience and choice take care of the rest.