Data Centre Solutions For The Channel

Refat Al Karmi, Senior Consultant for META at Juniper Networks, explains that partners can benefit from learning the latest data centre technologies to enhance their customers’ data centre operations and also to deliver the best user experience.

In the current data centre landscape, businesses grapple with many challenges in their day-to-day operation. The scarcity of qualified professionals makes it difficult for organisations to effectively manage data centres. According to research, in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, four in ten (40%) respondents agree that their organisation is not recruiting with the tech roles of the future in mind, and more than eight in ten (86%) of IT decision makers acknowledge that the IT department will need to recruit different skillsets in the next two-five years, because of digital transformation.

In addition, complex, often standalone tools and technologies can lead to inefficiencies and errors, while staying updated with emerging trends and selecting the right solutions adds another layer of complexity. These challenges can be overwhelming for data centre operators to manage alongside their day-to-day responsibilities. Many companies have found the task so daunting that they have shifted IT workloads from their on-premises data centres to public clouds, only to realise they greatly underestimated the costs of public cloud.

Notably, investments in the Middle East data centre market are estimated to reach US $7.94 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 8.53%. On top of that, 98% of UAE IT decision-makers consider automation of networking solutions crucial to leading the experience economy. The above indicate that the channel is presented with exceptional opportunities.

Partners should be the first port of call when organisations look for a data centre solution; they can offer a helping hand to customers navigating these challenges by recommending the most appropriate technologies and the right tools based on specific requirements. With the right technologies on offer, partners can help customers transform their data centre operations and alleviate some of the pressures they currently face.  

Getting Solutions Offerings Right
There are numerous data centre networking solutions available on the market, so it can be challenging for partners to know which will be the best investment to ultimately meet customer needs. In reality, most solutions can be complex to learn, implement and operate for IT teams. This complexity arises from a variety of factors such as multi-layered architectures, diverse technologies and protocols, customisation needs, scale and complexity of network infrastructure, interoperability limitations and skill requirements.

Integrating and configuring these solutions across different layers and components can be a huge challenge. To combat this, the key is to opt for a solution that abstracts the complexity in such a way that simplifies the networking experience through user-friendly interfaces and reliable and consistent operations, while offering multivendor support to ensure the best flexibility and ease-of-use.

Ultimately, the goal is to assist customers in setting up a seamless private data centre operation that they can manage effortlessly and with the same simplicity it takes to run public cloud-based infrastructure. Here are three steps for partners to consider when choosing solutions offerings for customers: 

Reliable Data Centre Operations
If the cloud hyperscalers have taught us anything, it is that reliability, consistency and repeatability are the foundations for speed. Solutions based on repeatable templates are a great way for partners to ensure reliability at pace for customers. By following predictable and repeatable data centre fabric designs based on industry best practices and common use cases, organisations can efficiently implement configurations with speed and reliability. Validated designs offer guardrails for customers and lead to increased productivity, reduced downtime and optimised operational performance.

Organisations can design their data centre with a simple blueprint. No need to mess around with esoteric vendor syntax in a command-line interface (CLI). Once the blueprint is complete, customers can duplicate the same design every time they need to expand their data centre network, ensuring quick, reliable and easy expansion for enterprises who may need to rollout new infrastructure in minimal time with minimal downtime.

Partners should consider investing in solutions with augmented automation capabilities and intuitive design, as operators can easily navigate and configure their data centre, reducing complexities and saving time.

Experience-First Ensures Smooth Operation
The most innovative data centre solutions prioritise user experience and enable the user to easily implement their intent. The solution should then take care of the ‘how’ by the device configurations and service assurance. Consider, as an example, a solution capable of continuously validating the infrastructure in operation versus the intended blueprint design that is stored in a single-source-of-truth graph database as the foundation. This means customers are no longer tied to the CLI and vendor certifications.

It is also important for partners to offer data centre solutions that can integrate with other applications to offer a seamless user experience. Integration with a range of popular services and solutions enable customers to create a cohesive ecosystem across hybrid cloud environments and disparate IT infrastructure. A seamless experience means that organisations can connect their data centre infrastructure with various services, such as cloud platforms, security solutions and management tools to have full visibility. A growing number of businesses, especially those using DevOps and site reliability engineering (SRE) approaches, want more programmatic or structured ways to use data centre fabric management tools. They would like to fold their data centre automation into the same Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) framework used for the rest of the cloud environment. These integrations enhance interoperability, improve workflow efficiency and unlock additional capabilities and features.

Multivendor Solutions Allow Flexibility
Multivendor solutions allow a customer to design their data centre first and then pick the underlying fabric, offering strategic flexibility and ensuring a tailored infrastructure which meets the exact needs of the customer. Hardware selection should be one of the final steps in data centre design, not the first.

Multivendor automation also expands hiring flexibility and increases efficiency. With a multivendor solution, customers are no longer constrained to find and train experts in a specific vendor’s portfolio and operating system (OS). By providing an abstraction layer, this ensures consistent operations regardless of vendor and turns each person on the team into an expert.

The best protection against supply chain disruptions—or getting locked into one vendor’s pricing and product roadmap—is the ability to quickly change vendors. Multivendor solutions offer this protection. With multivendor flow data, digital businesses gain significant advantages, including enhanced end-customer experiences, improved operational efficiency, data-driven decision-making and cost optimisation. Perhaps most importantly, flow data allows operators to understand how network issues impact specific applications. Data centres exist for the applications running in them, not the underlying network.

Partners can benefit greatly from offering the latest data centre technologies and having deep knowledge of how these cutting-edge solutions can enhance data centre operations for organisations. This ensures continued growth of trusted relationships with customers and increased growth for the partner’s business. As organisations grapple with their data centre operations, partners should be ready to support them on their journey to deliver the best user experience.