Are Data Centers Forgotten Among Digital Trends?
Today, many corporations have digital transformation, sustainability, and future of work as new and exciting strategic initiatives on top of their agendas. All the exciting buzz words such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), RPA (robotic process automation), agile, scrum, data analytics, and many other acronyms seem to catch the attention of many corporate executives and shareholders. These new technologies, when matched to enable a key business objective, really provide business transformation and many other benefits from productivity to quality, from traceability to foresight.
Even though cloud services are increasingly becoming more capable and more feasible, there are many reasons for a company to have its own data center. Whether it’s due to regulatory reasons, business and production continuity plans, or security concerns, maintaining data center operations is almost inevitable mainly in large enterprises. In order to enable most of the new digital technologies, there needs to be a core system foundation and infrastructure. These systems mostly comprise daily operational and transactional systems in addition to core network and security components. Advanced digital platforms such as advanced analytics, IoT, AI, and RPA usually rely on the operation of these systems, or the data extracted from these systems. Therefore, for an organization to achieve digital transformation initiatives, core infrastructure components and core operational systems must be in place, operational and secure. In many cases, managed data centers act as private cloud platforms or edge-points to access public clouds.
Running a data center with critical operations 24/7 is a major challenge for most IT leaders. Main challenges for data center operations are;
1. Maintaining availability and uptime (meeting the SLA’s, ensuring business continuity)
2. Optimizing capacity utilization (CPU, disk, memory, cooling, space capacity management)
3. Cost and performance reporting (itemized costing, detailed reports of operations)
4. Managing energy and operational costs (energy optimization for sustainability and cost savings)
5. Staff competency and productivity (keeping staff up-to-date and automating system administration)
Customer expectations from the managed data centers are increasing continuously. Just like a cloud platform which is more robust but standard by nature, customers expect similar on-demand capacity changes and flexible pricing from the managed data centers. In addition, new administration and cyber security technologies emerge every year. Managed data centers are expected to have these new technologies built in as part of the value offering. Keeping the technology infrastructure as well as the staff managing the data center up to date is a key part of operation. Otherwise, with constant updates on the technology, introduction of new solutions, the whole data center investment could very well be part of technology memorabilia.
The real value creation emerges when the managed data center provider acts as a technology partner rather than a mere service provider. Companies and IT leaders usually have very demanding and dynamic priorities. By creating customer intimacy, managed data center service providers can foresee the technology changes coming down the pipe and prepare their selves accordingly or even guide the customer in terms of the optimal solution.
For large enterprises, even though the focus seems to shift towards a more digital, cutting-edge technologies and cloud platforms in recent years, managed data centers will remain as an important part of core IT operations and enterprise architecture while fueling the digital transformation.