When you initially see the words ‘data centre’, many people will think of a cavernous, air-conditioned room filled with servers and cabling, which is monitored by qualified engineers.
As for the outside, you’ll see a non-descript building located on the outskirts of a city, usually in an industrial estate or science park.
This stereotypical data centre sits far apart from its customers. It may be wired to the world through ultra-fast communications, but it’s doubtful whether businesses which rely on its banks of servers and the technical expertise of its staff, ever feel a strong sense of connection towards collaboration. Once the contract has been agreed and signed by the client, the outsourced data centre does the job it is there to do, quietly and from a distance.
A good data centre will work pro-actively with its clients, responding to changing needs as businesses scale up or shift commercial focus. Thankfully many data centres are now evolving which not only provide technical innovation, but a new collaborative approach.
The new data centre
A new model of data centre is emerging, one where it’s not just about collocating IT with bandwidth, but about bringing people and technology together in a truly collaborative environment. Many industries thrive on collaboration, whether it is medical researchers sharing data sets or designers working on creative projects. To do this they need a place where they can share ideas with like-minded people, be close to technology and have flexible workspace where teams can work together.
One example is the data centre at Here East, the digital and creative campus being developed on London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Here East is a dedicated space for individuals and companies who embrace and pioneer technology, share expertise and are creating the products of tomorrow.
At the heart of Here East is a state-of-the-art data centre that facilitates growth and creativity by providing not only the huge amounts of resilient power and diverse connectivity that data centre users need, but also flexible colocation solutions all within an environment that encourages innovation and collaboration.
Thriving on collaboration
Technology centres such as these thrive on collaboration, with this kind of working interaction taking place both formally and informally. For instance, a key feature of Here East is an incubator programme, which provides an opportunity for start-ups to hone its products and prepare them for the market.
Incubators foster formal collaboration by encouraging participants to work and share ideas with mentors and with each other. Equally as important, there is the informal collaboration that comes from like-minded people working within the same four walls, meeting in cafes and at water coolers. It’s a collaborative culture which affects start-ups, established businesses and a broad range of service providers, mentors and financiers.
The evolution of data centres
As the industry continues to evolve, technology centres are leading the way in showing the future role data centres will be playing.
For example, when a business makes the decision to outsource data centre functions to a third party, there is the danger they will feel a crucial part of the organisation has slipped from under the control of managers and the business itself due to the data not being on site, especially in terms of day-to-day operations.
But in fact, a key role of a data centre provider should be to bridge the perceived divide between the outsourced technology and the business operations. It is not simply a case of providing the technology services, but also offering flexible solutions which enables the business to progress, innovate and grow.
Technology is providing all companies with an opportunity to develop new products, create new channels to market and create customer service models. This new breed of technology centre is well positioned to play an active role in underpinning the evolution of the data centre and redefining how people and technology interact.
Stuart Sutton, CEO at Infinity SDC
Image source: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia