By Tom Jacob
IT infrastructure operations and data centres were on the agenda at the Gartner Summit in Sydney this year. The two-day event was centred on maximising value and managing change in a cloud-driven world.
During the summit, Gartner provided its perspective on the data centre and infrastructure utility providers, where Datacom is seen to be ranked by size and category amongst the top five providers across ANZ. This chart, organised alphabetically, is based on Gartner’s estimate of the providers IT outsourcing – data centre and infrastructure outsourcing – revenues in 2013 in $US.
Competition is fierce, but the data centre market is fragmented with many organisations providing a variety of infrastructure services.
Gartner analyst Rolf Jester, VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, explains.
“The Asia-Pacific data centre market is more complex and difficult to compete in due to a number of market pressures, ranging from inconsistent offerings and pricing terms to the increased hyper competition from cloud, Telco, hosting and Indian/Japanese providers.”
Here are some key questions asked and takeaways from the summit.
The theme for this year’s summit was on maximising value in a cloud driven market. What are your views, and key takeaways?
In the past when I have attended data centre conferences the content has primarily focused on the facility services side of the data centre: power, cooling, design concepts and management practices. This year’s summit was very different as the time spent on the physical facility was less than five percent and the remainder was heavily focused on cloud, networking and global data centre connectivity.
It was interesting to note that Gartner’s definition of a data centre has evolved to be considered more as a network of places where IT services are delivered from, rather than a purpose-built facility providing power, cooling and facilities management to support customer IT workloads. Gartner regularly referred to a data centre as being a place where cloud based services are delivered from by either known or unknown locations.
The relationship between the customer and the data centre will now more than ever be managed by contracts, rather than the customer having a say in how the facility is run and managed which is something that has occurred in the past.
What do you see as the main considerations or constraints for organisations reviewing their data centre strategies?
In the past typical constraints were mainly capacity constraints for power, cooling, space, specialist data centre/server room management skills and ongoing funding. We have observed a change in the last 18 months where these issues are diminishing mainly due to consolidation with the aid of improved IT infrastructure and virtualisation technologies. Cloud Services (IaaS and SaaS) are also maturing and customers are seriously considering how these services will fit inside their organisations. Early adopters are already consuming services such as email, digital image storage and test and development services. We only need to look at the success of our own Datacom Cloud Services (DCS) and Datacom Cloud Services Government (DCSG), along with the global success of AWS, Azure and Office 365.
We see customers’ own facility constraints becoming less and less of an issue and we are already observing customers repurposing their old server rooms back to productive office space. And when organisations relocate premises it’s clear that moving the IT equipment to a data centre makes more sense than reconstructing a server room.
How do you see the future of the data centre market evolving in ANZ market, considering the analyst view on market pressures, consolidation, competition and partnerships?
The future is uncertain and depends on where customers are comfortable having their services and data stored and delivered from. There are current customer concerns about data sovereignty, network access and the high availability and locality of these facilities. But we don’t expect to see many more new data centres being built and we’re certain we’ll see a number of the older data centres empty out and close down. We’re confident that if customers choose New Zealand-based cloud service providers then there’ll be a healthy local market and, in time, additional Tier 3 data centres may be commissioned. Datacom is well-placed for this growth as both of our Tier 3 Data Centres (Orbit in Auckland and Kapua in Hamilton) have plenty of capacity. Datacom also actively promotes the use of these data centres to competing cloud and service providers with the aim of giving customers plenty of choice and retaining them.
What criteria do you think we have that places us in that class of providers as mentioned by Gartner?
Firstly it’s because Datacom covers all the bases. It has high-quality, innovative data centres, and the right policies to encourage service providers and customers to host there. And Datacom has a wide range of cloud offerings that give customers convenient access to services.
The design choices Datacom made in the initial design 6-7 years ago have proven to be winners. The use of outdoor air to cool the IT equipment has been a consistent factor in the energy efficiency of the data centre improving, making a significant contribution to customers’ sustainability goals. And the flexibility of Datacom’s solutions means we can always find a way to make it work for a customer—it’s not one size fits all.
Tom Jacob is Datacom’s General Manager of Data Centres.