Experience matters – how data centre providers must be ready to cope with any situation

08 December 2021

Darren Watkins, managing director for Virtus Data Centres

Darren Watkins, managing director for Virtus Data Centres

Over the last 18 months, organisations all over the world have realised that they can’t take any risks with their data centre strategies – they are at the heart of e-commerce and remote working, and have kept businesses operating during lockdown. Finding data centre partners that can be trusted to deliver robust, efficient, scalable facilities and cope with any situation, has never been more important.

When it comes to the explosion of ecommerce and widespread hybrid working, some in the business world aren’t in a hurry to revert to office life. And when it comes to e-commerce, the “Amazon generation”, who are used to getting goods and services quickly and easily, are unlikely to return to relying solely on in-store shopping.

This extra online traffic puts intense pressure on the infrastructure - security, servers, storage and network - of any organisation. IT departments need to deploy more forward-looking capacity management if they are to proactively meet their current and future needs. This means selecting a data centre partner that can provide enough capacity for the digital world and its demands, and adapt and flex to their customers’ continually changing requirements.

Whilst the pandemic thrust a spotlight on the data centre industry, the power demands of the sector are being increasingly scrutinised. But the good news is that the industry is already leading the charge to a more energy efficient world.

Many forward-looking providers are moving away from fossil fuels and harnessing renewable energy. And some are committing to using 100 per cent zero carbon power – benefiting from increased sustainability, reliability and cost effectiveness. Power hungry elements like cooling are fast evolving too.

However, in assessing providers’ sustainability promises, experience is once again crucial. The most experienced providers are committed to delivering a “cradle to grave” sustainability strategy, where environmental ambitions are built into every step of data centre construction and operational management.

Traditionally, physical security has been one of the primary reasons that some large risk-averse organisations have preferred to build and manage their own data centres. But today, because on-premise solutions are both financially unviable and difficult to manage, this isn’t always an option. As more remote and flexible working styles are embraced by organisations, many businesses are reviewing their existing office spaces. Some may decide to downsize from expensive inner-city locations as these large premises no longer support employee working patterns. This could also impact their in-house data centre, which may well be within these premises, and IT managers will need to consider where to place this critical infrastructure. For organisations who may have once chosen to build and manage their servers and network themselves, rather than outsource data centre space and remote operational expertise, significant reassurance that their provider has excellent security, amongst a host of other operational proficiencies, will be essential.

This is where a proven track record and solid experience really matters. Experienced colocation providers offer a full suite of benefits, including service level guarantees that offer 100 per cent availability of power and cooling, 24/7 physical security and compliance with all the latest ISO certifications for managing critical infrastructure.

When looking to the future, the data centre industry is fast evolving. Data centre providers are looking at areas like the ongoing innovations with adiabatic cooling, the growing use of renewables and alternative sources of back-up power to help them keep up with our insatiable demand for information. But, again, it is only the most experienced data centre providers, many of which were pioneers and early adopters of these technologies, that are now in a position to take the learnings of every design, build and operations project they have undertaken and develop best practice and new strategies.

Finally, experience really shows its value when things go wrong. When disaster strikes, it will be the monitoring, reacting and operating procedures - evolved over years - that ensure customer experience isn’t negatively impacted. Only with experience and longevity can providers build robust processes, tried and tested in live scenarios, to ensure the best possible levels of service.

If there is one certainty in today’s uncertain world, it is that our increasing reliance on data will continue to grow. And this reliance means that selecting the right data centre partner with experience and a proven track record is key to success. Get it right and you’ll be ready for the future and able to respond to market challenges, deliver on customer demands, scale and grow.