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Data Centres: Marketing claims won't convince customers, security and service are what matters

Alex Rabbetts | May 8, 2015
Customers want service, not PUE and Tier claims.

As the data centre industry begins to mature, customers are coming to the conclusion, as is right, that data centre selection is about much more than power and cooling. All data centres have power and all have some form of cooling. Of course, there are varying amounts of power available, but most data centres can meet the needs of most customers. At the recent Finance and Investment Forum the clear message from investors and customers was, "We don't care about your silly claims, we care about how secure the data centre is and we care about the service we get".

As an industry, most data centre businesses seem to be obsessed by a 'mine's bigger than yours' type of attitude. (Maybe it isn't maturing quite as fast as we think!) 'My data centre is Tier 3', 'Mine's Tier 3* with bells on', 'I've got a PUE of 1.2', 'Mine's 1.1' - the problem with these claims is;

a) They are not true,

b) They are mostly unachievable,

c) They are almost always self proclaimed,

d) Customers aren't even interested.

The hype invariably has little or no substance. Yes, the customer cares that the data centre is available when they need it. The customer might even care about the data centre's efficiency; although many are charged for power whether they use it or not, so are less interested because any savings from efficiencies won't be passed on to them anyway.

The customer rightly expects that the data centre will be always on. They expect that there will be sufficient redundancy that if one element fails there will be another to take its place without affecting service. Customers expect that the data centre is built to run as efficiently as possible. After all, the industry has been shouting about that stuff for years. There is hardly a data centre provider who hasn't claimed to be 'Tier 3', (almost always self proclaimed), or doesn't claim that their PUE is smaller than everyone else's, (usually self proclaimed with no evidence to back it up). What many don't want to talk about - because it isn't their strong point, is security or service.

Customers care about security and service far more than they care about what tier the data centre provider's marketing department claims it to be or what its PUE is - in fact, they don't even care what PUE stands for, and why should they? The customer wants to know, will my equipment and data be secure? And what kind of service can I expect? If I call up in the middle of the night because my server appears to have gone down, how will I be treated? In the unlikely event of an incident at the data centre, how will my services be prioritised?

 

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