Building a strategic data advantage

Digital Realty

By Matt Miszewski, SVP of Sales and Marketing, Digital Realty
Friday, 17 October, 2014

Building a strategic data advantage

What is the purpose of a data centre? Is it simply a place for you to plug in your servers, or can it address a higher business purpose?

According to Gartner, while IT spend in Australia was forecast to grow by 2.5% to $76.5 billion this year, this figure is well below the global rate of 3.2%. With IT spending being monitored so closely by all organisations, it is very important to make informed decisions about your next data centre. By making better decisions about your data centre, it becomes a driver of top-line growth, and not just a line item on an organisation’s P&L.

Considering that an organisation’s next data centre could very possibly be its biggest single IT investment decision, it is paramount that the right data centre strategic partner is being selected, so that investment delivers a better return on capital spent and operational dollars.

However, what if your data centre investment could also contribute to delivering on business goals, thereby driving top-line growth? Having a sound data centre strategy in place can be a key driver of business growth.

Developing your data centre strategy

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs, a theory of self-actualisation, which argues that human needs are met in a certain order. First come basic needs (such as food and water), then the ‘higher’ needs, such as problem solving and creativity. When modified, these can actually apply to a data centre.

Step 1: Basic needs - uptime and availability
This is the most basic need of every data centre client and comprises space, power, cooling and connectivity. While many providers do provision these basic needs, they are far from equal. In Maslow’s world, there is a difference between basic food for survival and a healthy diet.

Step 2: Need for safety - disaster preparedness
Natural disasters do happen, and they can be more serious than anticipated. A data centre provider should offer geographic diversity, low-risk locations and redundant systems for power, cooling and connectivity. However, nothing makes a difference like operational experience; a data centre provider should have been through the drill before, on a number of occasions.

Step 3: Need for support - access to a partner/connectivity ecosystem
An organisation needs easy access to an ecosystem of cloud/SaaS providers and connectivity partners, enabling it to connect with best-of-breed services, providing flexibility and purchasing power, and allowing easy connection with its own partners. There are few data centre providers with many of these partners inside their own network. Select one that offers support.

Step 4: Need for vision - additional footprint where and when it is needed
A data centre needs to be able to grow with the business, in the locations where the business wants to be. Beyond regional growth, organisations’ workloads are changing. They need forward deployment of resources, edge solutions, retail operations and disaster recovery.

A data centre provider needs to help its customers see beyond the cloud and contemplate the fog. Further, it must have the scope to enable its customers the flexibility depending on where the data will need to be and go tomorrow.

Step 5: Need for a data advantage - data centre strategy
Working through the first four stages of the hierarchy of needs, organisations are now at the fifth level. At this highest level, a data centre gives a business a competitive edge, and enables new revenue opportunities.

How? Data centres will deliver a faster time to market to deliver new services and products more quickly. Moreover, when new global markets open up to an organisation, they need to enter those markets in weeks not months.

With the right data centre provider, access to partners will deliver the performance and service levels needed. They will also connect an organisation to network providers that understand its business and spur on its growth.

When a data centre provider understands your industry well enough to decrease the latency of your app, you win - and grow.

Not all data centres are created equal. To turn your data centre into a strategic asset, you should not only look to satisfy basic data centre needs, but also look to build a data advantage.

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