As the 365 Data Centers’ channel program expands, master agents are weighing in on what the future holds for them and how they will need to adapt in an evolving market.
Bob West, Vice President of Marketing at Global Consulting Group (GCG) Technology Master Agency, discusses how channel growth is vital to keeping enterprises and technology connected.
Q: As a master agent, what do you look for when deciding on a channel partner like 365 Data Centers?
A: When it comes to deciding on channel partners, we look for partners that are truly committed to the channel. They have to be responsive and provide the highest levels of support to our consultants. They also have to have professionals within their organization that can sell the benefits of their solution offerings. We also look at their footprint – the location of the data center facilities, the facilities themselves and pricing for solutions are also important considerations.
Q: What is the market demanding when it comes to data center and cloud services?
A: When it comes to colocation customers, we’ve found that it’s all about the geographic location first. Customers want to collocate their IT infrastructure (application servers, storage, network hardware) in data centers that are strategically important to them. For example, an IT Director may want a data center presence that is in close proximity to their headquarters as they are moving from an on-premise server room or telecom closet to an off-premise, fully redundant data center. They want it close enough where IT staff can travel to the data center to perform maintenance and updates. In addition, customers may want to collocate their IT infrastructure to be closer to their customers or satellite offices. They may also want to collocate in multiple cities as a part of their disaster recovery strategy.
In terms of cloud services, customers are primarily looking for access to the big three – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform. The majority of customers will spin up servers themselves at these provider websites. However, the opportunity is centered on the cloud strategy, migration and building hybrid environments. Multi-cloud is a huge area of focus along with cloud optimization to create better efficiencies, performance gains and cost efficiencies.
Q: Why do your sub-agents enjoy partnering with you?
A: Our sub-agents partner with us because we take a different approach than other master agencies. In fact, we don’t consider ourselves to be an agency. We view ourselves as technology consultants and not master or sub-agents. We believe that a shift is occurring in the industry from being order takers and competing on price to a true client-centric, consultative approach.
Our technology consultants carry our brand name and reputation, have access to office space and leverage our client support resources for sales engineering, quotes, orders and customer service. In addition, we offer niche technologies outside the traditional realm of telecommunications and data centers through Datacenters.com. We’re focused on innovative solutions like Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, virtual reality and other transformative technologies.
Q: How do you see this industry changing over the next 10 years?
A: In 2008, the data center and colocation industry focused on customers moving their on-premise servers, storage and networking hardware to an offsite colocation data center facility that offered greater reliability, economies of scale and expansion. A decade later the industry is focused on what comes next for the data center and how to incorporate the demand for compute and data across networks. We’re not there yet. There’s no doubt that customers are moving from physical to virtual infrastructure (cloud computing). However, there are large opportunities in next-generation technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI). All of these technologies will have to be processed through a data center.
The big trends for the next 10 years will be hyperscale data centers, Internet of Things (IoT), high-density colocation, immersion cooling, artificial intelligence (AI), business intelligence (BI) and big data, edge computing leveraging 5G wireless, containerized/modular data centers, data centers in rural areas and green data centers.
The customers for colocation will be larger businesses, enterprises and startups – with cash – that want to create their own colocation environment for private cloud and bare metal servers. Most small and medium businesses will purchase cloud solutions as they take less to deploy and manage.
Green data centers that leverage alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal will be a big focus as a result of increasing scrutinization of carbon emissions from data center activity.
Distributed compute may also disrupt the data center industry in the next ten years. The concept of distributed compute is to leverage a network of idle compute resources for on-demand compute power. For example, an office may close from 5:00PM to 8:00AM every night. No one is using the compute power from hundreds of idle desktop and laptop computers. This could be used by workers on the other side of the world to perform on-demand tasks such as 3D rendering, AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, business intelligence and other intensive functions. In addition, it could become a business model where new businesses are created to provide on-demand compute power and sell it to customers to compete with AWS and other cloud providers. It could also be used to store data across hundreds of thousands or millions of connected devices.
I also see new pricing models and a commoditization of data centers coming in the future.