By Darren Watkins, Managing Director, VIRTUS Data Centres

Today thinking or being different is a business mantra. From the entrepreneur or the nimble start-up, to the international goliath, companies around the world are striving to find and demonstrate their point of differentiation; the thing that makes them stand out from the crowd, that they can do things better than anyone else, which customers will recognize them for.

Most obviously, one point of difference comes at product or service level. But differentiation is more complex than a shiny new product. You need to look beyond the obvious to find a business’ real differentiator.

A company that is truly different is one where the ethos runs through every part of the business. From the creatives, developers and marketers, to the point of sale, innovation is encouraged. Even at the back end – the finance department, tech support and in the data center – competitive advantage lies in the ability to be different.


Are Data Centers All the Same?

While the public face of innovation can be a charismatic CEO or an innovative product, companies today work in ecosystems, so the ethos of thinking differently should be shared by partners. And what better place to start than the heart of the infrastructure that drives the business – your data center provider. The most forward looking organizations know that getting the data center strategy right means they have an intelligent and scalable asset that fundamentally powers innovation. However, if they get it wrong, they’re dealing with an Achilles heel, which will hamper choice and growth.

Some experts believe that when it comes to data center choice, coverage is everything. They believe that ultimately, choice beyond this is irrelevant; that one data center is just the same as another and that data center space is therefore a commodity. However, it’s vital to dispel this myth and assert that real difference can and must be achieved at this level. If organizations aren’t able to recognize that data centers are a long way from being a commodity, then their ability to operate competitively could be significantly compromised.

Being able to store and process data safely, and to access and interpret it as meaningful actionable information quickly, will give a huge competitive advantage to those organizations that do it well. Far from offering a commodity service, data center providers vary in many ways. Despite many things being similar – from accreditations, space and power capacity, contractual flexibility, connectivity options and service levels, to location – they can be different by design if you look beyond the obvious.

How Are They Different?

Companies looking to capitalize on this must place significant strategic imperative on finding the right data center partner. For even the largest organization, it’s time and cost-prohibitive to build and manage their own data center, and so it’s with whom you partner that is the real key to success.

Data centers aren’t new, and it’s perhaps no surprise that they are viewed as a commodity as so many providers follow the same path. But even those data centers built a few years ago can already be behind the curve in terms of the basics such as efficiency, power and connectivity. However, we will continue to see a burgeoning demand for colocation in the UK data center market as enterprises and cloud providers scale out their platforms to meet user demand for digital services.

It’s clear that innovation and difference can come from unexpected places. While attention naturally turns to innovation at the front-end – the products, the services and the bold business leaders – it’s in the design and the customer engagement experience where the real difference can be made. When looking for a data center partner, of course companies must ask questions about performance, reliability and security levels, but the real key will be in finding a real partner that does things better than anyone else and who can work with your immediate and future requirements in your way. We like to think of that as different by design.

About the Author

Darren Watkins, Managing Director of VIRTUS Data Centres, began his career as a graduate Military Officer in the RAF before moving into the commercial sector. He brings more than 20 years experience in telecommunications and managed services gained at BT, MFS Worldcom, Level 3 Communications, Attenda and COLT. He joined the VIRTUS team from euNetworks where he was Head of Sales for the UK, leading market changing deals with a number of large financial institutions and media agencies, and growing the company’s expertise in low latency trading. Additionally, he sits on the board of one of the industry’s most innovative mobile media mdvertising companies, Odyssey Mobile Interaction, and is interested in all new developments in this sector. Darren has an honours degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from University of Wales, College Swansea.