Over the last few years we have seen more and more customers realise the value in “hosted” services. Rather than contacting their trusted technology supplier with a defined requirement, customers are saying they want a particular service or application at a monthly price with a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
This presents a challenge to resellers because to deliver these types of services there are high entry to market costs. There is the investment in the hardware, but there is an even larger investment required to build a data centre that provides the right levels of resiliency and uptime to deliver these services.
Actually, the most efficient way of solving these problems for a reseller is to partner with a data centre operator, which has all the infrastructure and expertise in place to provide these services.
Choosing a data centre partner
Obviously the data centre has to have the right specification: power, cooling and SLAs delivering 100% guarantees. Location of the data centre is also a consideration if you or your customers will need to visit it.
But if you are serious about delivering hosted services there are a few other considerations. It’s about more than the just the data centre. Connectivity is a core element of delivering any hosted service and you can’t just use any connectivity, despite the claims of some providers. You need to question whether your application, especially if it is voice related, can run across whatever internet connection the customer has available.
A data centre needs to be well connected, ideally with interconnects into multiple carriers. This increased choice means you can get the right connectivity at the right price for your customers. Internet access is still a consideration and you need to make sure there is a resilient backbone for internet access. Furthermore, SIP access is extremely worthwhile if you want to deliver hosted voice services.
Support and service
Hosting equipment in a data centre is a big step as it means you are not going to be where your equipment is. The partner you work with needs to have an on-site support team who you can work with. There needs to be a common vision of how to deliver good customer service, because your DC partner is going to be your hands and eyes – checking servers are running, cabling, configuration, installation, etc. This is a crucial consideration when it comes to the actual delivery of solutions to customers.
Then there are the wrap-around services. Once you have chosen your DC provider, resellers can offer a wider range of services such as colocation; space and power for hosting customer-owned equipment in a secure, resilient facility. There is a still a lot of growth potential in this area.
Additionally DC operators can provide cloud infrastructure, which can be used separately or in addition to colocation. Perhaps you need a virtual server to run a call centre or billing application. We see a lot of growth opportunity in a more bespoke approach where customers have both colocation and cloud requirements. It can also allow resellers to start offering services such as data backup – a simple value-add service.
The transition to a more hosted world shouldn’t mean the end of the road for resellers. The channel continues to add a huge amount of value and the customer relationships that resellers have are very difficult to replace or replicate.
As you evaluate what hosted services are right for your business and which provider is the right one to partner with, we would encourage you to look for a DC that owns and controls its own infrastructure. This means they will have the flexibility to tailor solutions specifically to your customers and be able to advise objectively on what the best solution is for any specific opportunity.
The right DC provider will provide additional opportunities to increase revenues and margins, upsell services into existing customers and attract new ones – and this is ultimately what resellers should always have in mind when choosing partners.
Business Development Director