Today we continue our Data Center Executive Roundtable, a quarterly feature showcasing the insights of thought leaders on the state of the data center industry, and where it is headed. In today’s discussion, our panel of experienced data center executives will examine how enterprise IT customers are responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our panelists include Phillip Marangella of EdgeConneX, CoreSite’s Steve Smith, Scott Walker from NTT Global Data Centers Americas, John Sasser of Sabey Data Centers, and Nancy Novak from Compass Datacenters and Infrastructure Masons.
The conversation is moderated by Rich Miller, the founder and editor of Data Center Frontier.
Data Center Frontier: How are enterprises sorting out their data center and cloud options in the shadow of the pandemic? What are the key questions and issues you are hearing in conversations with enterprise customers?
Steve Smith: In many cases, businesses will need to adjust to thrive, and many will need data and compute capacity above what is used today. Enter hybrid, multi-cloud computing at the edge, allowing high burstable storage adjustments quickly. As needs evolve, enterprises are looking for flexibility to spin up, or down the storage they have available.
Enterprises are reviewing, and in some cases, rethinking their business continuity plans to ensure their infrastructure, platform and systems can be accessed from anywhere and offer self-service solutions. Therefore, the cloud is critical but not the complete answer; those looking for cost optimization have realized that it’s prohibitive to put everything in the cloud.
For many enterprises, they prefer to be able to have their staff on-site as needed; however, some are now not able to travel to the physical space. We’ve been asked often about our Remote Hands service. Our data centers are currently open in a limited capacity to vendors and people outside of CoreSite. With Remote Hands access, our customers can request a variety of services to be performed by our staff on their behalf.
“In many cases, businesses will need to adjust to thrive, and many will need data and compute capacity above what is used today.”
Steve Smith, CoreSite
No one knows how long this new normal will last, or what the next normal will include. For instance, we recently spoke with a pharmaceutical company, and they emphasized the importance of focusing their resources on research for a COVID-19 drug, not managing a data center. They prefer to outsource to a colocation facility to ensure their critical systems are available when needed.
Phillip Marangella: As a wholesale data center operator, we do not directly focus on enterprises. However, our customers who are the world’s leading network, cloud and managed service providers do. Together, we are collaborating to help bring the cloud to the enterprise with a more localized and proximate cloud that solves for many of the latency, performance, security and economic impediments to adoption.
With the rapidly accelerating demand for cloud solutions and service resulting from the pandemic, we are seeing significant need to quickly scale capacity in both existing markets and new markets around the world. Our ability to quickly scale and build capacity on a just-in-time basis is key to meeting our customers’ needs globally.
Meanwhile, enterprises want choice and flexibility to connect to multiple cloud providers. EdgeConneX provides cloud on-ramp solutions directly from AWS, Microsoft and Oracle, as well as multi-cloud access solutions from Megaport, PacketFabric, Telia Carrier and NetFoundry. Then, by partnering with leading Managed Service Providers like Rackspace, Zenlayer, Ori Industries, Lume and others, they can help enterprises with their migration to the cloud and the right cloud for the right application in the right location.
In short, it’s about bringing together an integrated cloud supply chain together locally at the edge, where the customer wants it. EdgeConneX and its customers/partners are solving for all of those enterprise cloud migration challenges.
Scott Walker: Enterprises are continuing to focus on hybrid cloud architectures, but have accelerated their consumption of cloud-based communication and collaboration services (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, RingCentral) to handle the work-at-home trend.
When making decisions about infrastructure, key questions continue to center around cost, security, and performance. Cost and security are the topics most cited, as public cloud infrastructure is quite expensive as compared to private infrastructure at scale.
We are starting to see enterprises mimic hyperscale techniques by leveraging expertise from the OEMs and Intel to achieve cost savings. Public cloud performance is becoming a hot topic as well. We’ve heard our customers tell us they have experienced performance problems with their public cloud, thus fueling the trend to proliferate hybrid architectures.
John Sasser: Each enterprise continues to take a personalized approach to their data center requirement, depending on what they believe the short- or long-term impact of the pandemic will be on their business. The move to optimize IT environments using colocation and cloud continues, and the pandemic in some ways is helping to accelerate it. Customers going through a selection process and who are unable to visit or have concerns about how they might staff a facility, now are putting a premium on long-term operational success and the operator’s ability to flex and support evolving remote hands requirements.
To help make this easier we have virtualized our tour experience and spend as much time as necessary thoroughly addressing any concerns a customer might have, not taking for granted that they could be covered in a physical tour.
Nancy Novak: Certainly, we are seeing a heightened level of concern directed towards operations and that makes sense. If I’m a company like ZOOM, for example, and I know my volume of users is only going to increase I want to be sure that the people who operate the data centers I’m housed in can ensure uninterrupted operation.
The bigger “issue”, and I mean that in a good way, that we’re already seeing is customers and prospects wanting to know more about our plans for campus development and our speed of delivering capacity. The social, economic and work-related changes arising in a post-COVID world have made it obvious to any cloud or SaaS provider that they are going to need a lot more capacity and require it’s delivery much faster than they may have previously expected.
NEXT: The work-from-home trend and its impact on demand for edge computing.
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