The Next Evolution of IT Space Management for Colocation Providers and CIOs of Hybrid IT Data Centers

By Humayun Akhlaq, Country President at Schneider Electric Pakistan

IT physical infrastructure management is transforming amid mounting demands for cyber security and physical security, sustainability data, and reporting transparency. These trends are here to stay whether you own and operate a colocation facility or are the CIO of an increasingly distributed, hybrid IT infrastructure.

We believe these trends will lead to a significant change in the relationship between colocation providers and their customers.

It’s not enough to have a Service Level Agreement

In this new environment, we believe it will no longer be enough for a colocation provider to only provide an SLA – their customers will demand insight and ‘proof’ that the colo provider has the systems and tools in place to meet that SLA.

Perhaps a fitting analogy is ISO 9000. This standard was released in 1987 and addresses whether a company has the quality management systems in place to meet the standard. In other words, it wasn’t enough to have good quality. ISO 9000 required companies to demonstrate whether they had the systems, processes, and tools in place to meet the standard.

We found evidence that this desire for greater transparency started to emerge as a trend in 2017, when colocation customers began to request more visibility into their IT infrastructure in the colocation environment. Providers must prove they are equipped with the tools and processes to meet the requirements of the SLA, and we think that is a big change compared to how the industry has operated in the past.

A more complex conversation for all involved

The need for more details on sustainability reporting and scope emissions will reinforce this trend. Customers want to know where their power is being sourced, what percentage is from renewable sources, and much more. Given where the market is headed, if a colocation facility is not embracing this trend to provide more insight for their customers, we think they will fall behind their competitors.

For CIOs managing highly distributed data centers with more than half of their infrastructure outside the public cloud, the scope and level of granularity in reporting is changing.

Just a decade ago, I think we could argue that colocation providers were focused solely on one thing: resiliency. It didn’t really matter how they got there and just signing a service level agreement was enough.

While resiliency, of course, remains essential, what we are experiencing now is a more complex conversation for all involved. What are the cyber processes for the colocation provider? How do I know a new tenant won’t impact my availability? What is the energy carbon footprint? How do I know you are enforcing your physical security processes? These are just a few of the questions being asked and I believe they will become more granular over time.

The five pressing requirements are:

  1. Maximize utilization of resources
  2. Model and simulate changes to understand implications before changes are made
  3. Ensure infrastructure is healthy and secure from threats
  4. Respond to the needs of tenants to understand energy consumption and carbon footprint
  5. Provide tenants with transparency and insights