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The ways that businesses manage and consume IT is changing rapidly as is IT itself. There is a new order of data center services, and this is creating a wave of disruption for colocation service providers – and also a flood of opportunity for those that can adapt.
In terms of buyer behavior, hybrid IT is becoming the new norm, with most organizations now running workloads across a mix of public and privately owned data centers, according to 451 Research data. Public cloud services are increasingly part of the mix, with public cloud providers continuing to expand the breadth and depth of their offerings, at increasingly competitive prices. This puts increased pressure on colocation providers, but also opens up new opportunities to connect to and integrate public cloud with private cloud and non-cloud services.
At the same time, IT workloads are changing. Applications themselves are also becoming more reliant on the cloud and, increasingly, on trusted network connections. Containerization and microservices, for example, means that more applications are becoming distributed and dynamic. They are being built with subsystems designed to run across different data centers. They may need a certain, optimized type of data center, or at least, part of a data center. In addition to requiring best-execution venues, they also need reliable, dynamic connectivity.
There is also greater replication of data and more constellations of active-active data centers working to provide resiliency. For some organizations, this can effectively eliminate the need for separate disaster recovery capacity – which, again, means the role of the network becomes absolutely critical. It also has some major implications in terms of trust; while the network may always be up, if the replication has not kept up then the data might not be fully trusted.
What we’re seeing is that data center capacity is rapidly shifting from its historic position as the centralized and prime foundation for a business, to becoming a node, a critical component, in a distributed fabric of storage, processing and networking.
For forward-thinking colocation providers, the confluence of these (and other) factors means new opportunities. Successful providers will be those that can best optimize their data center capacity and positioning, and exploit new technologies for competitive gain.
The best-positioned colos are those that are being proactive; they are doubling down on efficiency, connectivity and compliance. They are efficient, agile and transparent. Among many options, they are a trusted source of capacity and, increasingly, services.
They are adopting, and in some cases driving, the new generations of modular, flexible data center designs. They are investing in tools to better understand the dynamics of their own business, assets, capacity and growth, as well as the changing requirements of their customers. At the same time, they are also investing to meet the demands of new markets, such as the Internet of Things, open data center architectures and other emerging forces.
The providers that can assess and anticipate the patterns of demand, and adapt accordingly, that will be best placed to carve out a profitable role in the future.
Rhonda Ascierto, a leading industry analyst, is Research Director for Data Center Technology and Eco Efficient IT at 451 Research. Rhonda will be presenting her keynote “Colocation in transition: New realities, new opportunities” at the 2016 International Colocation Club event, October 3-4, 2016 in Paris, France hosted by Schneider Electric.