The morphing of DC operators in the era of SLAs


15 September 2015
Ricky Cooper of Digital Realty

With service level agreements (SLAs) now a big part of data centre (DC) discussions, DC operators need to have a better understanding of their customers’ global portfolio and help them align their data centre requirements with their IT strategy and goals.

Speaking at at the opening of Singapore Data Centre Week 2015, Ricky Cooper, vice president of EMEA and APAC, Digital Realty, noted that just three years ago, the industry was at a stage where a lot of organisations were building their own “Tier 4 gold plated data centres” at huge cost.  Then came a change in focus. “Now we have a choice, and cloud is the enabler – the private cloud, the public cloud, hybrid cloud and network connectivity.”

Since then, there have also been other changes in the data centre and cloud computing landscape. In the early days, it was the large US banks looking to expand into EMEA and APAC that were leading the charge on innovation, said Cooper. Back then, they made up some 60 per cent of Digital Realty’s portfolio. Today, large web scale customers have come into the picture and as the cloud revolution progressed, it is no longer just the US influence spreading into Asia - companies in this region are also starting their own data initiatives and looking to move into Europe and the US.

Customers are also changing the way they purchase data centre services. Where they used to simply send their servers and storage to the data centre, now they are starting to leverage the economies of scale that some data centre operators can provide. “Now some new companies want to give you their Hadoop cluster, and you buy the IT equipment for them because you have scale in purchasing. They want to have the management and the after-care service,” said Cooper.

With this shift, data centre conversations are starting to be focused around service level agreements (SLAs). “SLAs are a big part of the discussion now,” he said.

Another thing that has changed, or is set to change, is the cost of migration, which has always been a sticking point, said Cooper. Going forward, the software defined data centre will allow applications to be moved from one data centre to another, across the country, and even across the globe. This will revolutionise the migration business, he said.

As these developments reshape the data centre landscape, the new opportunity for data centre operators lies is getting closer to the customer, understanding their global portfolio and acting as advisors these customers embark on their journey to the cloud. Data centre operators will have to be agile enough to offer customers solutions and help them align their data centre requirements with their IT strategy and goals, said Cooper.