Post-pandemic business planning: Choosing the right datacentre partner

In this guest post, Darren Watkins, managing director of colocation provider Virtus Data Centres shares his top tips on what enterprises should be looking for in a datacentre partner.

Those of us working in technology have long understood that datacentres are the backbone of the digital economy. However, the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic thrust the industry into the public eye far more than ever before.

Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, datacentres were recognised for their crucial service provision in maintaining communication and knowledge in the face of an unforeseen and particularly challenging period.

This universal reliance on digital technology has catapulted datacentres to the top of many boardroom agendas. Organisations have realised that they cannot take any risks with their datacentre strategies and have set about the task of finding the best-in-class operators with whom they should entrust this critical requirement.

But, with so much choice on the market, together with plenty of eye-catching new builds, this can make the selection process tricky. So how do companies go about selecting a reliable datacentre partner? And how can they make sure that the provider is able to serve their needs not just now, but for the long-term?

The growing demand for datacentre capacity

Since the pandemic started, remote working, increased use of web-based applications, and online shopping have all contributed to much higher internet traffic than ever before. It’s perhaps no surprise then that the principal concern for IT departments right now is how to deploy robust capacity management strategies to proactively meet their current and future needs.

Selecting a datacentre partner that can provide enough capacity for the digital world and its demands, and is able to adapt and flex to their customers’ constantly changing needs, is an important decision. Enterprises need to see beyond the marketing messages, media headlines and innovation promises.

One way to look deeper is to delve into the provider’s track record; has the provider got solid, proven and relevant experience in delivering consistency in product and service? Experienced datacentre providers are in the position to take the learnings of every design, build and operational management to develop best practice and new strategies, to deliver trusted and best-in-class service.

A commitment to sustainability

We cannot get away from the fact the datacentre industry is power-intensive. Today, datacentres generate two per cent of the world’s 50bn metric tonnes of greenhouse gasses every year, and to reduce their impact, the EU Commission recently set a “green deadline”, noting that the industry “should become climate neutral by 2030.”

The good news is that a close look reveals that there’s plenty of great work already being carried out on this front. Many forward-looking providers are moving away from fossil fuels and harnessing renewable energy. Others are committing to using 100% zero-carbon power – benefiting from increased sustainability, reliability and cost effectiveness.

Power-hungry elements like cooling are fast evolving too, with the most innovative operators deploying techniques such as indirect adiabatic cooling for some time, which provide the cooling functionality datacentres need, but with very low energy use.

However, in assessing providers’ sustainability promises, experience is once again crucial. The most experienced providers are committed to delivering a “cradle to grave” sustainability strategy, where environmental ambitions are built into every step of data centre construction and operational management.

Experience really shows its value when things go wrong. It will be the monitoring, reacting and operating procedures – evolved over years of learnings – that ensure customer experience is not negatively impacted when disasters strike.

When looking to the future, as with most sectors, the datacentre industry is fast-evolving. For the most savvy datacentre providers, every aspect of their solutions is continually being considered – from cooling systems, to security, to monitoring. Datacentres are the sum of many parts and each supporting industry must constantly use their knowledge and experience to innovate and improve.

There has never been a more critical time for datacentre providers – as the world relies on their services to keep up and running. However, as the saying goes, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and there has never been this level of scrutiny and pressure to deliver as there is right now.

As we move through an extended period of post-pandemic uncertainty, the relationship between customers and their datacentre partner is crucial. And, we believe that the providers who have a proven track record, and plenty of experience of dealing with unexpected or challenging situations, are best placed to succeed. In the world of datacentres – experience matters – now more than ever.

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