Data Center Support Services
For the last five years, real estate-centric data center developers and REITS have been taking the market by storm and rapidly eating into the market-share of the traditional colocation and data center services provider. It would seem that the reason for this is real estate entities delivered a cookie-cutter product built out at a scale which allows them to drive price down to levels below what the colocation provider could handle.
Colocation providers are a savvy bunch and have spent this time revising business plans that allow them to compete on a per KW basis. Wholesalers sell cabinets, colocation providers sell mega-watts, and in the end the consumer can now get any flavor for pretty much the same price.
So what now? What becomes the differentiators? Prices are just about as low as they can go right now. Designs are nearing parity. How many different variations of N+1 or Tier III data centers can there actually be? Colocation providers will always tell you they are way more flexible than developers.
The Wizard believes we are about to make a full cycle right back to focusing on the services. The advent of virtualization and cloud computing actually drives the need for a higher level of managed data center services than one would expect.
MANAGED DATA CENTER SERVICES
I regularly search the web for interesting white papers about the industry, keeping an eye out for interesting and new thoughts (or the resurrection of some solid 'old' thoughts).
In this 2013 IDC (sponsored by Dell) whitepaper, "Supporting the Complex Data Center," it appears that we might be approaching that point in which services begin to carry the day.
This paper outlines "the importance of support services in data center environments," commenting that data center environments are getting extremely complex, and a higher level of services will be required. The document also highlights and discusses "the increasingly critical role of vendor-supplied support services in addressing these emerging complex data center environments." Good stuff.
While the goal of this paper is obviously to tout Dell data center products and their service offerings, the observations about the data center environment really apply to ALL data centers and data center services in the MTDC.
High-frequency trading, critical apps in the cloud, and global access requirements all lead to the need for more sophisticated services from the data center. Part of the point of architecting applications in the cloud is to allow for higher levels of availability so critical apps won't go down.
Enterprises are going to want to 100% SLAs on carrier services, the ability to have access to dozens of carriers without having to contract with each individually, turn connectivity on and off with just a simple phone call, the use of VMotion to move data around on their private fiber networks, and to speak to someone at the data center that knows what exactly a hypervisor is.
So let's face it, the data center is on its way to delivering more of the IT stack than it ever has. And as IDC points out, this is the punch line, "Vendors must provide the platforms, associated services, and highly trained engineers that customers rely on for new consolidated virtualized data centers as well as for legacy systems that have to be maintained and eventually migrated. Providing this level of support ensures that the performance needs of end users who rely on these data centers are met. Managing operations in these new environments will continue to present significant challenges for resource-strapped IT departments. In addition, talent shortages in areas such as analytics, big data, and cloud computing are already apparent. IDC believes that as a result of all of these factors, CIOs and IT managers will increasingly look to external support providers for help in building and maintaining the enterprise IT infrastructure of the future."
Case in point, who would have ever guessed that colocation/managed data center services provider like DataBank would offer security log management and SIEM services to its colocation customers...
Twitter - @DataBankWizard