Today, computing needs amongst enterprises have evolved with them digitizing their businesses and adopting technologies such as SMAC, machine learning, and open source. This evolution, coupled with the new IT buying customers within the enterprise is driving vast changes in how modern data centers (DCs) are designed, located and consumed. While cost continues to be important, overall there is willingness amongst enterprises to pay a premium of only 8 - 10% for differentiated services.
So, what are the key parameters against which an enterprise should evaluate its DC service provider on?
- Flexible Approach: Today's changing technology and business environments demand a more elastic approach from their service providers. A provider should have an industrialized, easy-to-consume catalogue of services that simplify life for an enterprise. Also, service model must be flexible to allow for unplanned requirements and for the deployment of new technologies to meet business needs. Simultaneously, contracts must be responsive to business needs, permitting non-linear consumption largely driven by business owners rather than IT.
- Innovative offerings: Enterprises have bi-modal needs - one to run the business and the other to keep it on the constant path of transformation. DCs that operate on traditional generation n-2/n-3 architecture are able to support the "run" requirements but fall short in terms of the agility that's critical to support continuous "transformation". Does the provider offer next generation DC architecture with a focus beyond IT infrastructure centered for supporting traditional workloads? Does the DC take a business and solution centric view? Are the workloads and underlying infrastructure designed for hyper scalability, required business performance, resiliency and service continuity? By implication, the DCs must have innovation hubs that create standard and purpose-built service components supported by enterprise architects and business analysts who are conversant with the needs of the enterprise.
- Multiplier Effect: Partners across geos, access to cross functional specialists, platform professionals and domain experts allow a DC provider to tailor solutions specifically for the enterprise and draw the capabilities of the emerging niche players. This permits the enterprise to leverage a cost-effective open-standards based brokerage approach to services while the DC provides management tools that stitch the various systems and services to deliver more value from the investment.
- New Age Expertise: Enterprises have varying needs. These include leveraging cloud environments, wireless solutions, software defined data centers and support for DevOps in provisioning IT services to - drive service agility and reduce time to market while introducing new products or services, or while extending existing portfolio into new markets. Much of this calls for expertise beyond the traditional data center skills, including networking, application management and storage that DCs have refined over the years. And elements such as API integration, Micro Services, Programmable IT, Policy definitions and orchestration are becoming relevant skills for tomorrow.
With enterprises having to run the business and focus on continuous "transformation", the ideal way is for the DC provider is to work hand-in-hand with IT as well as business owners while maintaining a flexible approach to contracts.