Lines blurring between retail colocation and wholesale

The global data centre market continues to be highly competitive. With such a wide choice of providers available, what points of differentiation are most important for customers to consider when selecting a datacentre partner? Every customer has its own bespoke needs but must also have the agility to respond to changing technologies and customer demands in order to retain a successful business strategy.

Traditionally the preserve of specific providers, retail (providing small-medium sized colocation and managed services) and wholesale datacentre markets (providing large scale colocation environments) have blurred in recent times, with both sides adopting broader customer strategies. Increasingly we are seeing wholesale providers focusing on smaller deals, sizes that would usually be associated with the retail market. As a consequence of the diminishing distinction between the two, both wholesale and retail customers now have a wider portfolio of services and benefits available to them. But what does it really mean for data centre customers if retail and wholesale are becoming one and the same?

Both retail and wholesale operators are having to widen their offerings. Traditional retail providers will need to offer the requisite power and space that wholesale customers will need to expand into, while wholesale providers will need to adapt similarly. To attract retail customers they will need to offer more hands-on support and greater network connectivity. Potentially, it is a win-win situation for data centre clients.

So, what are the barriers to achieving ‘the best of both worlds?’

From our experience, the best way of understanding the impacts of this move are to split requirements between physical assets and value added services. When speaking about the wholesale facility itself, one of the most critical factors that needs to be considered for larger deployments in a wholesale environment is power; something that is not always a strength for retail providers. If a retail provider is to deliver a wholesale environment, they need a lot of power and, based on the length of the average wholesale contract; this needs to have significant reserves available for the future.

The reality is that there are a lot of virtues that can be taken from the traditional retail space that will improve a wholesale offering. Wholesale providers should be thinking about how they can improve value added services in wholesale environments as this can dramatically reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for their customers. By adding access to the 24/7 support that is offered to retail clients, data centre providers can offer critical help when necessary. It may even extend to support in design and project management- essential in becoming a partner that’s able to add strategic value to your business.

Another aspect traditionally more common in retail environments is connectivity. Recently identified as the most important factor in the decision making process in our poll of Data Centre decision makers, this cannot be overlooked. The space and power density required for wholesale colocation often means that these facilities are located outside of metropolitan areas, with restricted connectivity routes. When compared to retail facilities which are often located in urban areas with access to a much higher density of communications providers, there is a risk of compromising on latency and redundancy; directly affecting the performance of an infrastructure.

As a retail provider with over 25 year’s experience of providing colocation solutions that have facilitated the growth of both our customers and the industry itself, Telehouse is able to offer a best of both worlds solution:

With the UK’s only commercial DC dual feed grid substation, Telehouse adopted a new focus for a retail provider, by providing 50MW of power on site, delivering the wholesale scale environment that larger customers need.
Based on 25 years’ experience of managing data centre projects from inception to operation, the Telehouse team can offer expert consultancy at any stage in the lifecycle of a project – regardless of scope.
With new power and space availability, wholesale customers can now access the UK’s most developed connectivity hub; now comprising of over 530 providers.

North Two, Leading the Way

Our commitment to innovating within the data centre industry is embodied by the construction of North Two, the new data centre being built on our Docklands campus. Operating with both retail and wholesale floor space, North Two will deliver the colocation environment of the future. It will harness the expertise and 24/7 support delivered in the retail environment, whilst adding new levels of efficiency through innovations such as the first vertically mounted Adiabatic cooling system. The result is a PUE of just 1.16; which is a critical factor in achieving the total cost of ownership (TCO) model sought in adopting high volume colocation.

Telehouse welcomes the market shift and sees it as helping to boost competitiveness further within the industry, driving up standards. Those players not able to offer the best portfolio of services to both retail colocation and wholesale customers risk being left behind.

Whether you are traditionally a wholesale or retail customer, you need to know that things are changing in the industry. The amalgamation of retail and wholesale environments should offer customers more options but it will only do so if data centre operators ask one critical question: how can we do things better?

We will be presenting our newest developments, including North Two at Data Centre Dynamics on the 19th and 20th November 2014 at stand 404 and the solution stage from 13.40 on Day 1. Do drop by and see us and continue to look out for further announcements on North Two and Telehouse.