Sean Brady, Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield
1. What are the current market trends you see shaping the Data Center (DC) Technology space? What is your take on incorporating those trends and make them effective through your solutions?
Outsourcing to third-party providers and to the cloud are the biggest trends, with new services and outsourcing models being created every month.
There are five main third-party and cloud options. They can be used singly or in combination:
1. Big wholesale/modular wholesale/outsourcing of an owned data center to a third-party operator
2. Container solution/prebuilt/modular system solution using power on demand
3. Public colocation/private colocation/colocation on demand
4. Managed services provided by national or local third-party providers
5. Public/private/hybrid and community cloud
This is a complex list of services, and it can be difficult to determine the best solution or combination of solutions. Moreover, electrical costs, incentives, and state taxes can significantly affect costs within particular states.
Data Center Real Estate advisors understand the overall process–and can assemble the right team to evaluate all options and points the client in the right direction. Because these projects are costly and involve several senior-level department heads, it is typically hard to change direction midstream.
Team members should include Data Center Real Estate Advisor, IT and network consultants, an engineer, a migration consultant, a DC general contractor, a project manager, a decommissioning agent, and a DC attorney. They will together develop a road map, price out options, and properly execute the assignment.
2. What are the common businesses challenges Data Center services organizations face at this point in time? As a technology enthusiast, please opine your views on the steps organizations should take in combating those.
The service industry is consolidating to create one-stop platforms to reduce the number of vendors needed on-site. Minimizing workforce size reduces the odds of human error, the most common reason for data center or system failure.
Providers must offer frequent training so technicians can stay on top of rapid equipment changes. They must closely involve themselves in problem solving. Technicians will need to collect, analyze, synthesize and provide new ideas arising from the data being collected - and devise cost-saving ideas to minimize risk.
Service companies are creating remote DC alert monitoring devices, diagnostic and sensor equipment, and mobile apps to provide quicker solutions. Service companies must become an extension of the IT department and be included in problem-solving meetings.
3. Rapidly changing workforce demands and the demand for on-site technology silver bullets have pushed technology executives towards performing a balancing act. What are your views on how these can be timed to execution?
Companies with multiple data centers should proceed in three phases:
First, the CIO/CTO should create an internal team to review data system quality and review the importance of the apps, software, and information in use. The client should assign a 1-through-4 grade to each center, and the software and applications running in the data center. The team must determine if all critical information is in the Tier 3 or 4 center, and the less-important information is in the Tier 1 or 2 center. If necessary, conduct studies to determine the cost of upgrading the data center to add important information, or to migrate lower-level applications to a lower-quality center.
In phase two, IT creates a plan for all stakeholders to annually evaluate all data centers, beginning with the primary ones. Evaluation teams would include representatives from IT infrastructure, software/apps and network, risk, compliance, real estate and the main stakeholder. This team would annually evaluate center performance, power, space and equipment capacity, resiliency and general capabilities, and certify that all needs will be met in the coming year.
During the final phase, we recommend hiring IT consultants who know your industry’s applications and software–who know the solutions and upgrades that will keep clients ahead of the competition–and who can step in at any time to solve any major problem. The IT consultant should prepare annual technology updates to keep the enterprise operator on top of the market.
4. Nowadays, a lot of hype is forming around Data Center technology and both growing and big-fishes in the market are ideating its benefits. What are the advantages of using Data Center for an enterprise, any thoughts this?
Outsourcing to a third party or cloud is challenging because of all the changing options, which makes it hard to find an ideal expert to advise your company. Still, a qualified, experienced, data center real estate advisor can help choose the right vendors and guide clients toward the best solution. Outsourcing cuts costs and reduces staffing. It also boosts resiliency, flexibility, connectivity, and security.
It makes most sense to outsource to a Third Party Provider with a range of in-house managed and cloud cervices, especially since one cloud company will not fill all needs.
An experienced data center provider will save time and money, better support company employees, and better serve customers. The IT department will be able to outsource projects when staff is short or when increased capacity is required.
Some third-party providers can arrange for rental of a server or a cabinet of servers on a daily, weekly or annual basis, all operated and maintained by the user.
5. What is your take on ensuring data availability?
Data is king, data is money, and its availability is imperative. Anyone controlling, disseminating or monitoring data should do their best to secure it. Remember that improved access to data benefits society. It helps us cure diseases, reduce risk, and understand the future better.
Improved cyber-security helps ensure that systems stay free, flow faster, stay resilient, and help future generations learn from today’s mistakes. Cyber-security is a fragmented industry, however, because technology is changing so quickly. There are simply too many systems and devices to protect.
New security solutions are being devised daily, but new applications and software are also emerging at the same rapid pace. While it will be almost impossible to create an all-purpose cyber-security firewall, some specialty products are showing real promise.
One new company, for example, has created a cloaked firewall/application that goes in front of the IBM Z Series and identifies the user or hacker before they enter the equipment/software. When a signal is sent to the computer and the person is not identified, the user will be detected, stopped, identified, and sent away.
6. What is your advice for budding technologists in the field service space? How do you see the evolution few years from now with regards to disruptions and transformations within Data Center Infrastructure field services?
Technology software, applications and services today are steadily getting faster, smarter and more accessible to users. Providers thus must stay close to clients and stay on top of technological changes. They need to know how to replace, upgrade and modify equipment -- and to provide ideas on how to change maintenance schedules to lower costs, even if this reduces the service provider’s fee. The provider must be a partner who is always protecting the customer’s best interests.
We have seen more changes in data center technologies over the past five years than over the past twenty. And the use of big data and analytics will be one of the fastest-growing areas over the next decade. Big data is being used to lower costs, run equipment more efficiently, identify maintenance problems, and improve future design.
One example is a company Cushman & Wakefield just purchased called Ensite Solutions. It offers a national service for maintaining HVAC, generators, UPS and fire suppression equipment. Ensite’s certified maintenance operators service, maintain and collect equipment maintenance data, and analyze it to help clients lower costs, improve operations all while working through a single account executive.