The data centre invasion
Supplying data centre infrastructure solutions requires partners to have expertise and understanding of how businesses can realise long-term cost savings on operations and maintenance of data centres. What does it take to meet the demands of the new data centre.
As a microcosm of the global data centre infrastructure market, the Middle East is at a fascinating stage in its evolution.
Extensive public sector investment in purpose-built data centre projects is increasingly matched by innovation in the private sector. Multinational businesses continue to be a major influence on technology adoption trends as they grow their presence in the region. And the rise of the cloud is bringing the benefits of streamlined, ecologically advanced data centre technologies to the heart of the ICT services sector.
Add the number of big-ticket events such as the 2022 World Cup and Expo 2020 scheduled for the region, and this convergence of trends and influences adds up to an ideal scenario for resellers and solution providers at every level of the industry with the skills and expertise demanded by customers across the spectrum.
“At a macro level, the MEA region has seen a steady increase in investments in the enterprise market,” said Shams Hasan, enterprise product manager, Middle East, at Dell. “According to IDC, correlations between dollars spent and the number of server units in the region over the past year suggest that spending is also evolving into more tactical investments – a strong hint of evolving needs being met by carefully thought-out execution. More spending per unit suggests the beginnings of bespoke and carefully considered solutions for MEA data centres.”
Hasan said another important factor is that businesses are less restricted than in other regions by legacy architecture. IT leaders with established data centres are looking to modernise, while others have the opportunity to build new data centres from scratch.
At a micro level, where IT decision makers are juggling challenging budgets with business’s constant pressure to up the ante in terms of technology capability and capacity, this boils down to demand for flexible, agile, scalable, manageable and secure data centre solutions – whether they are delivered as physical, centralised infrastructure or as a portfolio of hosted services.
Key developments, according to Hasan, are: a growing interest in the Software Defined Enterprise (SDE) and a new era in converged infrastructure, both of which offer innovate, standards-based possibilities for a more modular, automated and cost-effective approach to data centre specification; and improved systems management capabilities for servers, as customers seek to control the explosion of big data and the impact of IT consumerisation on business applications – fuelling user demand for instant access to data, regardless of their device.
“Power distribution is also a challenge in terms of providing data centre services in some areas in the region,” said Diyaa Zebian, regional director – Lower Gulf and Levant at CA MENA. “Customers are asking, is there enough power available from the electricity supplier in my data centre location? Furthermore, some modern techniques that reduce energy consumption such as ‘free cooling’ are not yet available in the Middle East, where the external ambient temperature is very high.”
This practical concern is an area that channel players must focus on, as customers place growing emphasis on the positive impact of green technologies on the TCO of the data centres.
“Companies across the region need to put a strong emphasis on their sustainable solutions,” said Ross McLetchie, regional sales manager at Excel Networking Solutions. “As a company, we see the benefits of considering the environment and we continue to develop and help our partners increase their knowledge of our green solutions. Reinforcing the long-term savings with green products is essential in advising customers as to why they should consider greener options. Our channel partners are seeing more interest in these greener solutions and we continue to offer the support and knowledge to help them provide the best advice to their customers.”
McLetchie said there are plenty of opportunities for local players to engage with upcoming projects, particularly if they capitalise on their regional knowledge in the face of growing competition from global channel players.