I met this gentleman, lets call him Y, a couple of years ago and we as a group of twenty people had just completed a tour of a data center which is part of the programme of a data center conference. We are having a cocktail reception sponsored by the data center service provider that we had just visited. This data center company that hosted us is about two years in operations.
We are talking in groups of threes and fours. Y suddenly said in our small group this host’s data center is not good, his well known and decade old company’s data center has unbelievable this much of documentation and they are updated so regularly. I am no doubt that his company people works very hard and put in lots of effort, but what does it have to do with three-month-into-the-new-job him. But I digress.
The host wanted our honest to good opinion for them to improve their company’s data center operations and grow into a solid member of the data center industry we are all in. Putting more paper to a documentation is an incremental process and we should focus on what is important to a young data center company or even to an old data center company.
We can always learn something new when we visit a data center. In fact, the data center industry is itself very young. I can only praise this data center service provider that is willing to host visit from the same industry so that we can all share and learn together.
We are only proud of our past, and it is because no fault came to pass
We can have the most documentation in the data center industry, but outage will happen and it can be human error, battery problem, equipment degrading to below the designed load/capacity, hacking from outside the data center, and forces of nature beyond the data center control.
Most people (clients and data center service providers alike) will have the following list:
- Expansion i.e. scalability (of power and/or space)
- Availability of power
- History of reliability
- Resiliency of the data center infrastructure design
- Telco carrier availability
- Financial stability
- Fault Response and Recovery
and the list goes on and on.
No data center, after a long enough time, is able to stay free of fault. It should plan and practice how it will react and recover from the fault.
Those factors are important, but they are attributes that comes from meeting the customer needs and reducing the amount of worrying by the customer.
We should always focus on the client
What is the essence of Data Center colocation and hosting business?
Let’s go back one step. A data center colocation service provider’s main business is to serve client that put its mission critical IT gear in the colo data hall.
From a enterprise client or the vantage point of any client of a data center, what makes the client key personnel like CIO less worrisome about their mission critical IT system sitting in a third party’s space?
From the words colocation and hosting, it means we are host and our client are our paying guest. We have to earn the trust of the client, and client staying with us (like good comment on tripadvisor or booking.com does for a hotel) whether its incident free period or during incident event itself whether we come clean and react in a professional and effective manner bringing all our resources (including our support vendors) to rectify the fault (like hotel replying professionally on tripadvisor or a hotel booking website).
Where all big guys came from, stay young
Small young data center is where large data center company comes from. We can be big, but we are still attentive to details and respect someone trying very hard to do a good job.
Let us not forget we are once small and we are all in a business to be a good host. Let us share and learn from each other, and provide better service to our clients.
And it is good to think young. The client is demanding and IT keeps evolving, or we should approach and ask the client, for more knowledge about their IT side of things. More on this area in future post.
Share, learn, altogether
We as an industry is young. I am surprised to find that the data center players in most countries are not organized into an open group to share and learn. Engineers, doctors, hotels (4/5 stars, boutique), all have their associations and they do share updated development of technology and new service capability.
I for one will like to see a open data center group for all the data center service providers within Singapore get together and learn and grow together. Perhaps Singapore IT Federation should have a data center chapter? Or how about South East Asia? or Asia? I mean even the telecommunications carriers have Asia Pacific Carriers’ Coalition.
This is a good article about hosting sales. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2010/02/24/selling-hosting-in-a-sophisticated-market/