Helping Internal Colocation Service Providers Manage Multi-Tenant Environments More Effectively

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Over my last few blogs I’ve been writing about the benefits which transparency can potentially bring to colocation service providers as well as the consumers of colocation services. I’ve tried to give a little insight from both perspectives, but so far I’ve not really touched upon a third group of service provider which we refer to internally at Schneider Electric as the “internal colo.”

To provide a little definition, these are data centers which can be operated by private enterprises or the public sector, and provide an external level of service to internal stakeholders. They do so using comparative SLAs to third party service providers, and must competitively ensure that the services they provide are as competitive, cost effective and reliable as their commercial rivals.

Of-course, like their commercial counterparts, for years these data centers have more or less existed on trust when it came to allocating costs to their users. Or in extreme cases they might have used manual calculations such as that suggested in Schneider Electric white paper 161: “Allocating Data Center Energy Costs and Carbon to IT Users.”

But today, we’re seeing an increasing number of internal service providers turn to DCIM solutions like our Tenant Portal and the Colocation module in StruxureWare Data Center Operation to manage their environments. Besides ensuring that costs are shared in an even handed manner, raising the bar on data center accountability also helps keep pricing more in line with customer expectations set by external cloud service providers. In both cases, bills are generated using data and not based on assumptions.

In addition to the chargeback feature, the software enables a deeper level of transparency of cloud-based resources coupled with more precise planning. From the data center “customer” perspective, it provides assurance about the capacity which is available, coupled with the opportunity to reduce costs by not paying for services not needed. For the operator, it means that resources can be balanced with a real time understanding of what’s going on at infrastructure level across the data center as a whole.

This is obviously useful because, as indicated above, the public sector is in a constant battle to control costs and ensure efficiency. While in the private sector, where over-engineering has been the hallmark of data centers since their inception, there is a drive to reduce the cost and in some cases, the environmental impact of computing services. It frees up cash which can be invested to expand IT resources or taken to the bottom line.

But there are also convenience factors which are not quite so obvious. A data center manager recently told me of a case where one of his customers kept getting storage array failures and had asked him to have his team investigate the temperature in the racks. Before doing so, he examined the temperature sensor data from the rack in question which revealed something “off the scale.” As a result, he provided an infrared image to his customer revealing that the supplier had installed the storage devices incorrectly, causing all the problems.

Far from creating a public outcry about waste, transparency is helping to foster increased co-operation and collaboration between service providers and service consumers. And whether this lies in the context of outsourced commercial deals or insourced provision, I’m excited by the role which the new Tenant Portal can play in creating a more inspired and innovative relationships in the colocation market.

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