The challenge of bringing IT Operations ‘on board’ with colocation.

It is often seen as an ‘issue’ that the provision of colocation (colo) services to enterprise clients creates distance between the IT department of those enterprises from their own services and infrastructure. The question is, how to bridge that divide?

Also, many of the efforts made by IT Operations get overlooked by management and service providers. For example, such teams often put great efforts to improve customer services by managing their own IT assets in specific ways to open up new services to end users. Will these efforts get lost in a more rigid infrastructure regimes, leading to less control and perhaps diminished services to customers?

Should colos embrace or marginalize the concerns of the so called ‘server huggers’ that exist in enterprise IT?

In-house IT operations are sometimes under-valued and dubbed so called ‘server huggers’. I would argue that their scrutiny of future infrastructure evolution remains very valuable and valid for providing better services to end customers. But how can the colo provider embrace these important aims and support these deep held and valid perspectives, when at the same time advocating the clear advantages of colocation? How can colos create an environment of ‘best of both worlds’?

It starts with how you hold your assets!!

Why? Because:

  • IT operations would like to retain decent levels of convenient visibility and control of their assets.
  • Colos can only offer suitable eco-systems to cater for such users if their infrastructure management allows them to. And ultimately that comes down to how assets are treated and then linked with users.

What tools are available today?

Well classic DCIM tools are typically focused on the internal goals of the datacenter facility (power, cooling, space) without paying too much attention on the needs of the IT or network teams of the colo’s customer. It can be quite a challenge for colos to give enough freedom and flexibility to their customers, when in the past the focus has been on tools primarily geared to more effective datacenter operations – not end user services.

What might be a better way for colos and clients to work together?

All of the assets within the datacenter – whether owned by the colo or client – come together to create a service to the client. These assets combine in unique ways for each client and the infrastructure management tool used at the colo is crucial to any service offered. This is because only when assets can be securely linked to specific users (colo and client) does such a service become both practical and affordable.

  • Practical means: secure, reliable, easy
  • Affordable means: automated, client self-service, integrated

Datacenter and cloud infrastructure tools have the potential to enable colos and other service providers to offer more stickiness of clients and their systems. And address directly the concerns of IT operations by bringing services directly linked to their assets straight to their desktops.

So, what is new?

FNT’s solutions offer the capability to open up assets through web services that were never envisaged as being needed in DCIM tools. These solutions make it possible for colos to provide tenants with much-needed access to what they want and need the most: customers, data and services. We call this trifecta Colo Connect³. It starts with the customer. Some colos have invested in portals for clients themselves, but there is often a significant cost to such developments and flexibility is often compromised because of concerns over security, access rights and data integrity.

FNT’s Colo Connect3 makes this capability ‘out of the box’ and enables the colo and enterprise client to devote more time to develop services that the clients care about.

What else is important?

Firstly, the same concept is also true for service providers that collocate equipment at a colo. So, linking assets to specific users transcends all layers of business model, not just enterprise to colo direct. Ultimately if colos want to expand their services through ever increasing layers of business complexity, they should fundamentally make a shift to enabling access all the assets in their care open for services used by their customers – end user, enterprise or service provider. And without creating huge service desks to manage it.

Secondly, colos and clients have to live in a world where data is mostly held in ’silos of information’ which continually need to be reconciled. These data objects all exist in different formats, mainly because the systems that use the data come from different worlds – for example enterprise IT, telecoms and datacenters themselves. They all had their own ways to handle assets, so it very tricky to bring them together in the datacenter or cloud services. FNT Colo Connect3 holds all data objects in the same integrated way. That is an incredibly powerful advantage when you are hoping to provide new services to customers in an affordable way. Furthermore, the capability of offering sophisticated analytics held within that data directly to those IT departments opens up new ways for services to be developed that will directly affect end user customers.

Thirdly, such capabilities open up new opportunities for colos and clients to work together to create new and flexible services to end users. If done collaboratively and well, the new infrastructure will support innovation in services as opposed to having to ‘manage’ the distance once feared.