An Introspective By Chris Hinkle
Flash back to 2019. We had just signed another deal, a hard fought victory of 12-13 different data center options in town. We had, during the sales process, rolled out the red carpet for these clients and they saw the value of the “TRG Difference” in our infrastructure and operational mindset.
At this point, I did not always get to meet every client before their move in, so I would always try to drop by at some point and introduce myself and make sure everything is going smoothly.
What I saw both amazed and terrified me. The CIO was there with a team of 6 people, leading the charge. The move went off over-all as smoothly as you can ask, with plenty of sweat and a hard fought weekend. There were definitely some things left on the table in terms of how the setup was done that accomplished day 1 requirements, but would pester them for years to come.
Now this was one of the better situations. I have also seen plenty of complete failures. In my typical manner, coming by on the weekend, I have seen the empty looks on peoples faces, 36 hours in, running into unanticipated challenges with cabinets opened wide and cables spewing forth like something straight out of a horror movie.
Setting Up Infrastructure Is Harder Than It Looks. Now, I never fail to appreciate the gusto and hard work ethic of IT professionals. Every time I see these things, I am continually impressed. However, I cant help but be afraid for the future of retail colocation when I see the CIO (admirably) feeling needed to lead a charge for a hardware refresh or data center migration. It’s no wonder that some run to the cloud. The reality is, these days reliability is table stakes, and we need to do more.
Keeping our heads in the sand and taking customers for granted will show a flight to better services and experiences the moment it becomes available. Jeff Bezos has written extensively about customer experience himself in his letters to investors over the years.
It was disappointing to me as a data center professional that, even with everything we had done up until that point, I still felt like we were simply the best of a bad lot. The cloud, in its most pure form, is really just an abstraction and delivery/distribution model, and is incredibly flawed in itself with the common infrastructure reliability, security, and cost issues.
Having witnessed enough of these moves, I decided it was time to own the entire customer experience. This is a solvable problem. Even with the massive pitfalls, the power of distribution made cloud a success. I knew that with a fully managed data center product like Colo+, we could create the best of both worlds and become a center for a unified delivery experience providing reliable and secure infrastructure and timely distribution of extensible resources through our private cloud partners for years to come.
As a data center, or any service organization, we fundamentally have to eat our own dog food, and if we cant or aren’t willing to share or shoulder the same experiences our customers have then we are admitting our product is a failure. Given this realization, I felt compelled with no other option but to launch ourselves into building the worlds best data center experiences and delivery models.
With Colo+ we take care of every aspect of physical infrastructure from the initial migration (lift and shift), all the way to hardware refreshes years down the road. The best part, that makes it all worth it for me, is the gratitude people express and the pride they take in their cabinets on a job well done. Having a world class magazine quality deployment in a Tier IV facility is something any organization should be proud of.
Here are the core observations I made about colocation and the future of hybrid IT as it relates to the Colo+ experience:
– Physical infrastructure (cabling and labeling) represents a variation in workflow and skill gap in typical IT staff
Our Colo+ team solves this by providing 24/7 on site resources to take care of these things with no incremental cost in a “As an Experience” model.
– Having the right tools for the job and creating an environment for success is equally as important as the people
We consider Colo+ first and foremost to be a super-premium cabinet technology, using the best in breed parts to create an Easy, Fast, and Reliable infrastructure experience. Setting the table with the right infrastructure empowers our team to be successful
– Setting up for success day 1 gives a great experience long term
You cant sweep things under the rug in a 24/7 operation, problems will eventually manifest. Colo+ creates a model that survives uncertainty and compromise within your deployment, something that no other service or day 1 setup can do.
– In the As-A-Service-World we need data center experiences not real estate
Colo+ is a infrastructure distribution model, setting the table as distribution allows us to logically extend other forms of distribution in the form of extensile resources to customers, allowing the ultimate realization of hybrid IT.
– Support Needs To Go Beyond Day 1 Setup
Any experience should be there day 1,000 not just Day 1, this is one area where Colo+ far surpasses any other data center experience today. Send us anything, or we will come pick it up, and we will get it online and keep it that way.
– As the need for edge and data everywhere become pertinent, we need distribution models that enable these requirements.
How We Build Is A Reflection Of How We Feel
In the absence of any knowledge of how IT works, leadership teams see what they can and infer performance. I cant tell you how many emails we have received about pictures of their cabinets being circulated internally at an organization and making it all the way to the CEO! The pride of the deployment becomes reflected within the department itself, and it is my belief that pride carries forward into the operations and administration of the networks themselves.
Within just one year of launching this service, we became the highest rated and most reviewed data center in our city. The great Horst Schulz of the Ritz Carlton once said that “Profit is the applause that we receive for providing great service”, and I believe that the model personal fulfillment that my team, customers, and their businesses get from this delivery model make it all worth it no matter how hard the work. Our team holds their heads high and our customers evangelize us, knowing we are the best. I found one apprentice tech, on his first test build that he did, bragging by showing pictures to his mother. When mom gets involved, you know you are doing something right.