The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable features insights from industry executives with lengthy experience in the data center industry. Here’s a look at the insights from Chris Sharp of Digital Realty.
Chris Sharp is the Chief Technology Officer of Digital Realty. Chris has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, with an extensive background in developing technology strategies in global markets. He has a deep knowledge of the data center sector and is well positioned to expand technical innovation at Digital Realty. Most recently, he was responsible for cloud innovation at Equinix, where he led the development of innovative cloud services solutions and developed new capabilities enabling next-generation, high-performance exchange and interconnection solutions, facilitating broad commercial adoption of cloud computing on a global basis. Previously, Mr. Sharp held leadership positions at top network and colocation providers, including Qwest Communications, MCI/Verizon Business and Reliance Globalcom.
Here’s the full text of Chris Sharp’s insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: The rise of cloud computing continues to boost business for data center providers. What are the trends you are seeing in cloud adoption, and how are they shaping the role of the data center service provider?
Chris Sharp: Interconnection and the ability to expand quickly are the two biggest customer requests we’re hearing today, validating that the data center is no longer just a white floor where organizations keep their servers. The data center, which houses the cloud, is quickly emerging as a hub for cloud connectivity, allowing an organization’s community – made up of customers, partners and employees – to efficiently and quickly exchange information.
Interconnecting key ecosystems in a seamless, dynamic manner is critical, especially when paired with the need to support varying customer demands from a single cabinet to multiple megawatts globally. This need is driving a sharp demand for connected data center campuses, which are unique ecosystems of open solutions that allow customers to easily access the cloud services they rely on and to quickly scale without breaking the budget. By liberating information collected on servers, organizations can leverage and monetize that data to fuel corporate strategy and customer growth.[clickToTweet tweet=”Chris Sharp: The future of the enterprise lies in how to leverage and monetize data.” quote=”Chris Sharp: The future of the enterprise lies in how to leverage and monetize data.”]
Data Center Frontier: The hybrid cloud deployment model appears to be gaining traction with enterprises. How is the emergence of hybrid cloud impacting data center providers’ ability to attract enterprise business, which has historically focused on the need to shift IT workloads out of on-premise facilities?
Chris Sharp: The future of the enterprise lies in how to leverage and monetize data, putting increasing pressure on companies to share data easily between all necessary parties. This can prove complex, given most companies today require a mix of dedicated physical data centers, private cloud deployments and public cloud deployments. In order to move data in and out of data centers quickly and securely, companies are beginning to rely on elastic, hybrid clouds made possible by data center and colocation providers like Digital Realty.
Currently, a lot of the onus from network architecture is put on the customer. However, by leveraging the cloud deployments located in their metros (e.g., SoftLayer, AWS) and by allowing customers to stand up their own infrastructure close to the cloud deployments, data center providers can remove architectural complexities for customers. This allows customers to focus solely on their core competencies, which generally don’t include data center management.
Given higher value now relies on access to network connectivity, cloud connectivity and advanced service providers, the forward-thinking data centers of today have evolved into agile and scalable ecosystems made up of connectivity-rich service providers. For example, our clients in Silicon Valley have access to more than 100 network service providers. This network ecosystem allows companies to future-proof their business, meaning they can reside in a secure environment operated by a data center provider and utilize the partners’ advanced network solutions. This level of connectivity allows businesses to build faster with less risk, scale globally, access managed services in a reliable way and easily connect to cloud providers as well as a range of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions.
Data Center Frontier: It’s been an active period in the market for data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software. What’s your take on the state of the DCIM market, and pace of adoption of these tools by end users?
Chris Sharp: The DCIM market is evolving to enable greater visibility and control to meet growing demands for simpler, more automated approaches to operating infrastructure – everything from switches to racks. To adapt, data center providers need to offer greater transparency into how they operate their infrastructure.
More importantly, they need to empower customers to self-serve by becoming a seamless component of their customers’ overall solutions. To accomplish this level of connectivity and availability, dynamic APIs will be key for the industry.
Data Center Frontier: There’s been lots of mergers and acquisitions in the data center industry. Is this likely to continue? If so, how might M&A activity impact the competitive landscape in the data center and cloud hosting industry in 2016 and beyond?
Chris Sharp: M&A activity in the data center and cloud hosting industry is heating up. It absolutely will continue to do so. The main reason is the increasing demand and growth for public and private clouds that no single company can meet all the requirements. Not to mention, customers want to buy from a consistent vendor globally and once a relationship is established, they expect their products to naturally enter every market. That’s where it impacts the competitive landscape.
The competitive landscape in the data center and cloud hosting industry in 2016 and beyond will witness niche regional players start to sell some of their unviable data center assets and large data center providers like Digital Realty expand into new markets where customers are pushing.