Over the past couple of years, we have conducted regular roundtable discussions with colocation service providers to collect first-hand insights into the way that their market is changing and evolving. One of the most prevalent trends from these discussions has been the changing way that customers are selecting and purchasing colo services and the type of value they are looking for when evaluating these relationships.
Until recently, the colo selection decision fell to procurement or facilities professionals; however, today a broader spectrum of titles is likely to be involved in the decision-making process. The important role that colos are now playing in businesses means that one or more of the following titles will likely be involved in the decision: IT manager, CIO, COO, CFO or the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) – a new organizational role overseeing the digital strategies driving transformation of the business.
The change in buying persona is transforming the nature of the customer/supplier relationship, requiring a better understanding of business goals as well as a greater level of transparency. The significant advantage of this change is that the relationship between colo and customer can become more strategic and valuable, therefore reducing the risk of customers opportunistically swapping colo providers.
Of course, the challenge with this more strategic relationship is continually demonstrating business value from the relationship. Transparency between supplier and customer is an essential step towards building a relationship of trust and answering questions like am I getting value? Am I paying too much? These are key concerns that Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software is helping to answer. But in addition to wanting to understand exactly what resources are available for use at any time, there is also increasing customer expectation that they will be able to manage all facilities at their disposal including outsourced and on-premise data centers.
In developing Tenant Portal as part of StruxureWare Data Center Operation v8.0, we worked with colocation service providers who were looking to operate in a more open and collaborative way with their customers.
Using the Tenant Portal, colos can enable their customers to have a clear view into the IT load, with the capability to search and drill down into rooms, cages and racks, reserved capacity, measured power and rack temperature. It is possible to allocate usage to individuals, projects, departments or applications for tracking and billing. With no direct access to the service providers’ local network, embedded security measures ensure customers that no one else can see into their inventory, and neither can they see anyone else’s.
DCIM helps elevate the value that colos bring to their customers while at the same time creating a rich vein of additional revenue streams and managed service opportunities for colocation service providers. These opportunities can extend from the provision of KPI dashboards and trend analysis, to managing access and permissions, or providing active hands as a virtual extension to customer in-house IT capability for moves, additions and upgrades.
As the market develops, DCIM is helping colos to respond in new ways that go well beyond the simple provision of space, power and cooling. Technologies including DCIM and the Tenant Portal are strong drivers of innovation in service development and innovation. For more information about the challenges facing colos, download a free copy of “Opportunities and threats for colocation providers around the globe” – a Schneider Electric report from our most recent peer-to-peer roundtable.