Today connectivity is everything and this combined with latency has become the ace in the hand for many data center companies. As we consume and connect more and more geographically dispersed clouds our appetite for network connectivity and bandwidth becomes even stronger.

The result is that data centers have been rethinking their business models from offering hotel space for equipment to a new model of bandwidth, resilience and a range of connectivity options. For those data centers with low levels of connectivity and diversity of carriers, the future is not that bright, but for those that have actively embraced the markets unassailable desire for more cloud based content, the picture is much better. However, before DC management celebrate their new client take-up they need to understand the sand is shifting under their feet constantly and an arms race for connectivity is underway on many levels.

Diminishing returns

Considering where hardware sales are and the continued decline of net new equipment, the primary catalyst for a data center’s revenue, combined with the rationalization of existing equipment as it is virtualized and converted into software based solutions means data centers are having to fight hard for the traditional footprint business.

So DC’s are adding “carrier-neutral” super connectivity to their arsenal to enable potential cloud users to recognize that highly connected hubs or “Metros” will save time and money connecting the required clouds together – creating one of the other key components for successful clouds - Agility.

Additionally as these hubs grow, they become more attractive to software, content and service providers who can connect to collaborative services and be in the same neighborhood as their potential clients.

Good examples are Equinix and Datum. In Equinix’s case its premier product is now called IBX and is a worldwide connected set of network hubs or “Metros” provided from a range of diverse network providers that can allow clients to link to common service providers within the data centre such as financial trading and news platforms, and also to external platforms provided by other companies.

Vissensa uses this super highway of connectivity to provide our own DC interconnectivity and also to leverage the network to reach out to our client on the opposite side of the world.

Fueling the cloud fire

Two major fuel sources for the demand for connectivity is the emerging “Direct Connect” services allowing peer-to-peer connection making quicker and cheaper use of public clouds without leaving a trusted network.

The second is the rapid development of SDN (Software Defined Networks) which allows the control and automation of the networks to become a software led function that will lead to the commoditization of networking through cloud connectivity and which is being driven by the collaboration of the AWS, Microsoft and Google cloud products.

Why is this such a big deal? For a start it means that for any of our clients they or we can provision services from within the UK anywhere in the world, and deploy these services securely on the most appropriate platform for the workload. Because this activity remains within an extended environment that Vissensa controls it becomes much easier to deploy, secure workload and is simple to scale the services based on the clients’ requirements.

These connected hubs, clouds and multitenant networks require software automation to provide the scale and agility and the connectivity options supplied by the data centers from their upstream carriers.

The emerging cloud ecosystem

Having built and established a direct connection from a data center to the public cloud layer the data centers are harvesting their investment in their super connectivity by developing marketplaces or internal sales hubs for clients and vendors to meet and select products and services resident in that data center. This move by the data center providers is a really smart move on their part as the market has been used to vendors setting up marketplaces or portals and then grouping tools and products for resellers to build out solutions.

These vendor marketplaces look a little obsolete now. ISV’s attracted to the distributors or vendors portal where they perceived the client traffic was, now see the ‘golden egg’ as the clouds and the connectivity brokered by the data centers.

The success of this will only serve to further enhance the data centers position as the connection broker between IT services, internal and external clouds and diminish the vendor and distributor cloud or portals.

With the prediction of 34bn connected devices by 2020 the way we use information, linking it together to get an amalgam of results from many sources has changed forever, and the requirement to be able to connect this information quickly and from anywhere has become the new currency in IT services.

Steve Groom is CEO of Vissensa, a privately owned managed service provider headquartered in the UK.