Australia’s datacentres are thriving and for some businesses have become the goose that lays the golden eggs.
The good news is the channel is a well placed to benefit heavily from the boom which appears unaffected by continuing global economic uncertainty and likely to continue.
Early indications from a study by DPSA have shown datacentre spend in Australia is expected to grow from $2 billion in 2010 to $3 billion this year, and about 25 per cent of an IT company’s total budget is spent on datacentre space.
“It is one of the fastest growing IT segments. We expect a further global growth of 4.7 per cent next year. Many new datacentres, expansion programs and amalgamations are on their way,” DPSA national datacentre architect, Jason Rylands, said.
The study showed IT companies within the space were facing a shift towards high-density datacentre solutions.
“Big Data and the Cloud are some of the buzz words going around in the industry. A huge amount of data is exploding out of the networks. By 2015, 91 per cent of all Internet data will be video. This, along with mobile devices, is what’s driving the back end of datacentre expansion,” Rylands said.
Gartner research vice-president, Phillip Sargeant, said the growth of organisations, need for upgraded datacentre technologies and consolidation of many small datacentres have stoked the sector’s current growth.
“The total number of datacentres in Australia is expected to peak at 49,613 in 2012, but by 2015, this number is expected to decline to 45,545 because of datacentres consolidation. However, end-user spending on datacentre equipment [servers, storage and networking] is growing,” he said.
Sargeant pointed to the large numbers of organisations, including the Government, that have built datacentres or signed with datacentre providers.
Most recently, companies such as NextDC, SuccessFactors, Fujitsu and HP have all opened datacentres in various states across Australia.
So with all this massive investment in datacentres, how does the channel fit in with the boom? Channel Dynamics director, Cam Wayland, said the concept of the datacentre is a growing segment of the channel because of advances in technology.
“We see vendors, distributors and partners alike all focusing into that space for an on-premise replacement of racks. The efficiencies of technology and the applications of technology have allowed for that natural progression,” he said.
With more vendors starting to understand customer business drivers, they are beginning to talk to their partners about business opportunities and help them articulate that value message to their customers.
According to Wayland, no one vendor is able to manipulate the entire datacentre industry in Australia. The role of partners is not only to sell the hardware and software, but also extend it to offer services, especially for business continuity and disaster recovery.
“The reality is that you need the channel to be able to pull that solution together and tailor it specifically for a customer. The channel will not only be able to have the skills to do that, but also the overall relationships with customers that have business drivers close to theirs,” Wayland said.
HP Asia-Pacific and Japan enterprise services chief technology officer, Scott Cassin, said he is seeing more interest in how businesses can get enterprise capable services from datacentres. The channel is key in its business development.
“Our channel partners are a different access mechanism to the market segment and are a window into the SMB enterprise. They have got access into the markets that we want to participate in and it’s the services we offer that help them differentiate themselves between other competitive channels,” he said.
Beauty in the boom
Veeam Asia-Pacific systems engineer manager, Charles Clarke, said the channel will be able to leverage datacentres as a service. “A lot of the beauty in the boom of datacentres lies in larger datacentre providers renting out space to smaller channel partners. “It’s an opportunity for the channel partners to leverage that consolidation and provide it with services,” he said.
Clarke suggested businesses should provide services such as accurate billing for customers, back-up and disaster recovery, customer support as well as ongoing maintenance.
NextDC CEO, Craig Scroggie, said the channel should adopt a value-added services component, and branch out into technologies that might differentiate it from the rest – such as within the application space.
“They should provide a smart hands service or real-time maintenance. The next level up is actually providing the application itself,” he said.
The NBN and telco service providers, too, play an important role in datacentre augmentation. At a recent HP datacentre launch, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said datacentre facilities are integral to Australian economic growth, delivering to enterprise and the Government secure Cloud services that would represent a fundamental change in computing.
He recommended businesses invest in datacentres because of their benefits of reduced cost, scalability, accessibility, and management.
Conroy said this will help organisations focus on their core goals rather than allocating resources to IT. The NBN is critical in allowing organisations to harness the potential of the Cloud as it offers not just better broadband speeds, but also eliminates existing geographical restrictions, he said.
“We think about the NBN and changes in the workforce because of the growth in mobility. It is the digital world and we are right at the hub of it; so the future for datacentre businesses look enormous,” Scroggie said.
As for telco service providers, the datacentre space has enabled them to go beyond just providing fixed line services to becoming a content delivery network or helping a customer solve a problem from an application perspective.
“You’re seeing the telcos go a lot deeper into the application space than before. Rather than just being the plumbing, those carriers are moving into the value added space and helping customers solve a problem rather than just providing the bandwidth,” Scroggie said.
Going forward, DPSA’s Rylands said there should be in more ICT and DC infra-alignment and more intelligent measurement and reporting in maintaining energy efficient datacentres.
Research company Ovum’s latest report on global telco data-centre service strategies, showed datacentres are becoming the strategic service hub for new enterprise ICT services, with each carrier having different approaches based on its individual carrier’s available capital, service portfolio and inclination to partner.
“Global carriers are expanding outside the traditional franchise regions. This will lead to different approaches as there are different customer targets, regional priorities and service portfolios for each of them,” Ovum enterprise telecoms principal analyst, Mike Sapien, and author of the report, said.
Another dynamic of the investment is the mix of ecosystem partners within the carrier datacentres. “Some enterprise customers of the global carrier may be a potential partner in sharing risk or in providing related services to other non-carrier customers.
“This shows there is room and a need for the global carriers to differentiate by developing their individual ecosystem of partners,” Sapien said.
In keeping abreast of datacentre advancements, the channel has to evolve with technology changes, and players have to stay certified and aligned to their core vendors, Wayland said.