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In a world defined by evolving technologies and growing IT demand, consuming data center services hasn’t just become more important for organizations, it’s also become a bit more complex. Finding the right data center provider for unique needs, current business goals and long-term growth can be a tricky task to accomplish. Solutions are diversifying, geographic priorities are shifting due to edge and IoT applications and businesses need simple advice to help them understand who they should trust with their data.

To provide a helpful resource to data center buyers, the Independent Data Center Alliance, a consortium of global independent data center operators, offered a webinar titled Evaluating Data Centers: When to Choose a REIT, Metro, Regional or Edge Operator Provider. This session featured data center experts Spiros Liolis of DatacentreSpeak; Tom Brown, CEO of DataGryd; Bruce Garrison, CRO of Bluebird Network and Bluebird Underground Data Center; and Ed Henigin, CTO of Data Foundry. The discussion delivered a wealth of advice, insightful perspectives and discussions about navigating data center buying decisions and evaluation tactics.

Liolis launched the discussion by underscoring how important it is that C-suite individuals, facility managers and more know how to evaluate data centers for their mission-critical data and applications. Data center providers themselves have a good perspective on this, as they need to have their fingers on the pulse of evolving trends, customer demands and market-specific requirements.

Brown notes that customers should start by looking at what it is they want to accomplish and seeing how that goal fits within a prospective location. He acknowledges, “With the advent of 5G, it’s [crucial] to consider if latency is important. Other factors include power as densities continue to exponentially grow.” In other words, if a business needs to prioritize low latency, they should seek a provider that keeps data close to its destinations and origins, offers cable landings for connectivity and delivers access to cloud providers or other service providers in house. If power density is crucial, a data center that offers that while also delivering effective cooling to keep it operational is key.

Garrison, when asked about the market trends he sees, notes, “Everything we do from an individual, at-home consumer perspective or as a business organization — we’re just becoming a more digital economy.” This global evolution creates a need for more bandwidth, more reliable uptime, more secure facilities and overall more ease for enabling digital transformations that include 5G, IoT, AI and more. These technologies also rely on speed, which means that organizations will have to think through who their end users are in order to keep that data local. It is an advantage here to determine whether a data center company that specializes in serving Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets might be beneficial — but this must be determined on a case-by-case basis for data center consumers.

It’s clear that political, social, economic, technological, legal and environmental forces are having widespread impacts. If we look at the data center sphere from a different angle with this in mind, it brings up the question of how the data center itself is changing, as opposed to how demands on the facilities are evolving. Henigin states, “The dominant changes really revolve around the shifting of our economy… and the continuous improvements and investments in technology. We’re able to do more in shorter amounts of time because of the technology we have in our hands.”

Much like how the printing press led to global change, emerging technologies are now putting us on the brink of a new revolution — which will be enabled by the data center. Henigin states that we’ve seen a traditional evolution in efficiencies and best practices, making data centers largely converge on the most advantageous solutions. Nevertheless, as security regulations become stricter for some verticals and as sustainable options become more appealing to some enterprises, there are still some choices that need to be carefully made despite there being a wealth of good provider options.

Reports observe that retail and wholesale colocation will be growing into the future, and as we continue through the advent of 5G and other revolutionary technologies, it’s clear that we’re just at the beginning of this upward swing in data center demand. As Liolis stated, it’s paramount that businesses everywhere are prepared with an understanding of how best to tackle data center consumption, given that these facilities are — and will continue to be — the foundation of ongoing transformation.

To watch this webinar in its entirety, please click here. To learn more about the Independent Data Center Alliance, please click here.