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.

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The data centre invasion
By  Piers Ford Published  February 22, 2015

The cost-efficiency argument

Channel players in the Middle East are well-versed in the theory behind cost-effective data centres, but when it comes to practical experience and demonstration they still have work to do. That’s the view of Shams Hasan, enterprise product manager, Middle East, at Dell.

“Helping customers understand the cost/efficiency benefits of new data centre models means being able to showcase the opportunities – for example, through sizing exercises – and make sense of the end-to-end solution as well as the traditional siloed lines of business,” he said. “Customers expect that the channel partner will bring a strong practical knowledge-bank as a value-add to the engagement.

“It is crucial for partners to develop hands-on confidence in this topic. Beyond staying up to date with the knowledge, they would benefit from joining forces with vendors who are leaders in data centre solutions and who showcase success in innovating for new data centres. The right collaboration model for partners would involve a vendor who can provide the flexibility to explore a breadth of solutions and make resources available to enable them to dive deep and get hands-on with their customers.”

Mario Veljovic, VP solutions MENA at Global Distribution FZE put it even more starkly. There are still good margins in traditional infrastructure services but only if channel partners adapt to new technologies.

“There are a lot of players out there in the market working hard to maintain the status quo, as they have enjoyed great years maintaining the installed base and make extra money from upgrades,” he said. “But they need to chance [new technologies and models] or they will lose their credibility as a trusted advisor and others, coming in with innovative technologies, will eat their lunch.”

Veljovic said the channel’s general weakness in the Middle East remains selling ROI – and this applies in the data centre space as much as anywhere else. “Channel players need to urgently develop a service-based business model,” he said. “They need to be able to improve the skills of their sales force to sell ROI instead of technical specs.”

Data centre forecasts

Resellers and systems integrators need to keep abreast of wider business trends that will impact on data centre strategies in the year ahead. Big Data will continue to exercise IT purchasers as they look for more cost-effective and efficient ways to manage the explosion securely. Businesses will wake up to the benefits of streamlining strategies around converged technologies by exploring private cloud models. And the mobility of the end-user will put more pressure on the security of the data centre. These are Dell’s predictions, echoed across the region’s burgeoning data centre landscape.

“The rapidly growing market will face significant challenges in the next 12 months and beyond,” said Diyaa Zebian, regional director – Lower Gulf and Levant at CA MENA. “As more and more people are getting ‘connected’, the demand for data centres is surging. Even with the continued growth and rehabilitation of existing data centres, it will prove difficult to keep up with the demand. This provides an opportunity for MSPs and their data centre outsourcing offerings. As a result, we foresee large investments inn MSP data centres in the next 12-24 months. They are expected to tap public cloud services in order to keep up with the market requirements.”

Rifaat Al Karmi, regional director at EMW ME agreed, predicting that more companies will consider outsourcing and colocation options. “More customers will look at how to create a cloud-based solution and understand how PaaS and SaaS can provide a viable investment,” he said.

At Excel Networking Solutions, regional sales manager Ross McLetchie said the market is set for a number of years of positive growth.

“The market will definitely see continued investment in data centre infrastructure projects, despite advances in other technologies,” he said. “More investment will be made in the solutions that make up the data centre with a view to recouping this spend and a consideration towards greener solutions offering long-term benefits.”

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