What is the purpose of a data center? Is your data center simply a place for you to plug in your servers, or can your data center address a higher business purpose?
We at Digital Realty would argue that your data center can serve a higher business purpose. We believe that working with an experienced data center partner can help you make better decisions about your next data center. And we believe that when you make better decisions about your data center, the data center becomes a driver of topline growth, and not just a line item on your P&L.
Considering that your next data center could very possibly be your biggest single IT investment decision, wouldn’t you want to ensure that you’re selecting the right data center strategic partner, so that investment delivers a better return on your capital and operational dollars? But, what if your data center investment could also contribute to delivering on your business goals, thereby driving top line growth?
It may be somewhat heretical, but we think your data center strategy could be a driver of business growth.
To make our case, we turn to Abraham Maslow. Yes, that guy. The psychologist.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of self-actualization that argues that human needs are met in a certain order. First come basic human needs (such as food and water), then the “higher” needs, such as problem-solving and creativity.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Let’s take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, modified for how they might apply to your data center.
- Step 1: Basic needs – uptime and availability
This is the most basic need of every data center client and consists of space, power, cooling and connectivity. And a lot goes into each of these. Downtime is expensive. While many providers do provision these basic needs, they are far from equal. In Maslow’s world, there is a difference between basic food for survival and a healthy diet.
- Step 2: Need for safety – disaster preparedness
Remember Hurricane Sandy? Natural disasters happen, and they can be more serious than anticipated. Your data center provider should offer geographic diversity, low risk locations, and redundant systems for power, cooling and connectivity. But nothing makes a difference like operational experience. Your provider should have been through the drill before. Many times. You wouldn’t select a heart surgeon who has performed heart surgery only once or twice.
Digital Realty has had better than 99.999% uptime for the past seven years in a row for its Turn-Key Flex® facilities. And considering that we have more than 130 properties, that statistic includes a LOT more uptime than a provider with only 10 or 11 properties. And that is through multiple natural and manmade disasters. We did not lose customer load throughout Hurricane Sandy.
- Step 3: Need for support – access to a partner/connectivity ecosystem
You need easy access to an ecosystem of cloud / SaaS providers and connectivity partners, enabling you to connect with best-of-breed services, giving you flexibility, purchasing power, and allowing you to easily connect with your own partners. There are few datacenter providers with many of these partners inside their own network. Select one that offers support.
- Step 4: Need for vision – additional footprint where and when you need it
Your data center needs to be able to grow with you, in the locations where you want to be. Beyond regional growth, your workloads are changing. You need forward deployment of resources, edge solutions, retail operations, disaster recovery. You need to see beyond the cloud and contemplate the fog. Where will your data need to be and go tomorrow? You need a datacenter provider that can get you there.
- Step 5: Need for a data advantage – data center strategy
You’ve worked through the first four stages of the hierarchy of needs. You are now at the fifth level. At the highest level, your data center gives you a competitive edge, and enables new revenue opportunities. How? Your datacenter will deliver a faster time to market to deliver new services and products more quickly. And when new global markets open up to you, you need to enter those markets in weeks not months. With the right datacenter provider, your access to partners will deliver the performance and service levels you need as soon as you need them. And they will connect you to YOUR network providers that understand your business and how to spur your growth. And when your datacenter provider understands your industry well enough to decrease the latency of your app, you win – and grow.
Not all data centers are created equal. To turn your data center into a strategic asset, you should not only look to satisfy basic data center needs. You should look to build a data advantage.
Maslow would want no less for you.
~ Matt Miszewski, SVP of Sales and Marketing