Future-proofing Colocation Data Center Growth with Intelligent Management Tools

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Originally published on Datacenter Dynamics.

According to a recent Zion Market Research report, the global data center colocation market, which was valued at $31 billion USD in 2017, is expected to reach $105 billion USD by 2026. Colocation providers poised to benefit the most from this growth will need to differentiate themselves from competitors by offering their clients superior reliability, service, and convenience.

One challenge is the fast-changing nature of the colocation marketplace where customers are implementing their digital strategy with a combination of public cloud, colocation, and edge data centers. To adjust to these changes, colocation providers are adding services like cloud, infrastructure as a service, and IT device management to simplify the lives of their tenants. These extra services provide tenants with the flexibility of doing everything themselves or paying a bit more to have their colo provider take care of it for them.

451 Research Colocation Report

Regardless of where tenants fall on this continuum, colocation providers can use DCIM tools, like a tenant portal, to inform their tenants of their operational status. Operational status may mean the amount of power a tenant is using any given day, or the maximum temperature their IT equipment gets at the front of the rack, or even the optimal location to install their next server, based on availability of network ports, power, cooling, and rack space. This transparency goes a long way in building trust and good will with their colocation partner.

These same management platforms give colocation providers insight into all the physical infrastructure equipment used by a specific tenant, discover through simulation which tenants will be impacted by certain power or cooling equipment failures, and understand their resource capacities (i.e. power, space, and cooling). More and more colocation firms are turning to a new generation of intelligent cloud-based data center infrastructure management tools that provide these and other valuable insights.

DCIM tools enable future-proofing colocation sites

Today’s colocation providers can also use these cloud-based data center management tools to future-proof their data centers. These tools enhance their ability to measure and predict data center infrastructure power and cooling capacities. In many cases, colocation operators don’t have the information they need to deploy new equipment at the optimal time and capacity, such as PDUs and rack PDUs. Tenants ask questions like “How will my new IT equipment impact my redundancy and backup runtime?”, and “When will I reach the limits of my current power and cooling infrastructure and require additional capacity?” While finding the answers to these questions may appear simple, it can actually be a complex and time-consuming task without the proper tools. Most colocation operators remember the days when this work was performed using clipboards and spreadsheets.

Determining the answers to such questions is critical. For example, as more IT equipment is installed in the colocation facility, the actual rack density of the data center or room can exceed the design limits. The resulting stresses on the power and cooling systems can cause downtime from overloads, overheating, and loss of redundancy. Furthermore, the power and cooling requirements of the IT devices themselves are not constant, but vary as a result of virtualization and power management features implemented by IT equipment vendors. Colocation providers need better information regarding how and where to reliably deploy equipment to ensure predictable performance and optimize the use of the physical infrastructure resource. A new generation of cloud-based data center management tools, such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT, now provide these capabilities for colocation providers.

The benefits of deploying such solutions include:

  • Vendor agnostic – Regardless of the brand of infrastructure device, these solutions can provide proactive insights on critical assets that impact the health and availability of the IT environment. Additionally, these systems provide real-time recommendations to optimize infrastructure performance and mitigate risk.
  • Predictable equipment behavior – By correlating power, cooling, and space resources to individual servers, these cloud-based data center management tools, through simulation and prediction, can inform colocation operators of potential physical infrastructure problems and before they occur. This helps to reduce downtime and shorten meantime-to-repair when a fault does occur.
  • Improved customer service and cost control – In virtualized and dynamic cloud environments, the real-time awareness of changing power and cooling capacities is important for safe server placement. These more intelligent tools allow colocation providers to inform tenants of the consequences of their actions before server provisioning decisions are made. Chargebacks for energy consumption are also possible with these new tools and can alter the way decisions are made by aligning energy usage to business outcomes.

Collaboration and education opportunities for DCIM tools

Understand what other growth strategies colocation providers can deploy in this 451 Research report, Customer Insight: Future-proofing your colocation business. Also, hear from Greg Jones, VP Strategy and Offer Management from Schneider Electric speak to this topic and the influence IT software has on the colocation facility in an upcoming video interview with Data Center Dynamics. Lastly, this July we’re holding our annual Innovation Day: International Colocation Club in San Francisco, California. At this event, colocation providers from around the globe assemble to discuss industry trends, strategies, challenges, and efficiencies to deploy within their data centers. Stay tuned for the insights gleaned from these conversations!

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