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A partnering approach is essential to meet today’s data centre challenges

Date: 17th July 2017
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Our Associate Director, Jon Healy, sat down with DCS Europe to discuss market observations, our new services and the success of the business over the last year. You can read excerpts from the conversation below or see the full article in the summer edition of DCS Europe.

1.  For those that don’t know please can you describe Keysource and your role in summary?

Keysource is an international provider of solutions for business critical environments, including data centres. We have 35 years’ experience partnering with our customers to provide solutions and services that enable their technology requirements.

Our work spans the full lifecycle of the critical environment providing an ability to leverage a wide range of capability within the business.

As an Associate Director, and a member of the senior management team, my team and I are responsible for existing and new customer engagements, understanding the best way we can help customers and how our capabilities are best utilised.

Our passion is in understanding our customers’ businesses and how they use technology in order to deliver their objectives and drive benefits, often taking some innovative thinking to get there.

2. 35 years? Congratulations! Let’s not go back that far but what have Keysource been up to recently?

As technology changes so do the demands of the market and our customers’ requirements. We’ve continued to adopt a fresh strategy year-on-year to be able to continue meeting this.

The most significant change to the business in the last 18 months has been the development of our consultancy and professional services offering.

This approach allows us to work with our customers to better understand their data centre needs, including how they use and deliver these services, whether this be internally, externally or both.

In our view, having an understanding of how data centres fit within wider business objectives is now vital. And as customers’ adoption of virtualisation, cloud and other platforms continues, our role is becoming increasingly critical.

We’re very much of the view that given the normally significant investment and the long term nature of these solutions, they need to meet the customer’s needs both now and in the future. Working back from the application layer and infrastructure selection, where possible, enables a more informed and strategic process when it comes to both specifying the build of a data centre and assessing its future operation requirements.

Building on our critical facilities management offering, our additional service lines that support IT and network services have organically grown through long-term customer partnerships. We’ve seen these provide benefits akin to a managed service while also giving customers operational benefits including better efficiency and higher availability.

We also joined the Styles&Wood Group towards the end of last year. This has allowed us to offer a much wider range of property services to our customers while also providing critical environment expertise to new and existing customers from across the Group.

4. You’ve touched on the new consultancy led approach and Keysource have a well-known D&B service so, in a nutshell, what is Keysource’s offering?

We have structured our business to support our customers throughout the critical environment lifecycle.

Our consultants and professional services teams support strategy development, auditing, discovery exercises, and assessment of operational environments. We also advise clients during design-stages with a range of pre-construction services including business cases, permission and approvals, design development and tender creation.

Keysource’s project teams deliver critical projects from small works to major data centre builds with a range of flexible services. These include project management, turnkey construction, operational upgrades, and transformation as well as a full range of end-of-life services.

To complement this Keysource provide a full range of critical environment operational services through our facilities management specialism. From security, maintenance planning and management, to reactive on-site support, monitoring and optimisation. These are often tailored services to meet specific needs of the customer or operation.

5. Do you have an example of where these new front end services have provided real benefits for your customers?

For a recent contract, we were appointed right at the beginning of a client project. This meant we were involved in, and had an appreciation of, the broader business objectives and establishing the strategic need for the data centre.

Often these business objectives have a cost, time and risk implication. By discussing these openly with the customer and working with their in-house team to develop the brief and key deliverables, we were able to advise on a range of potential models with the client and ultimately arrive at the best approach to meet their needs.

Our consultants provide a wide range of services from market advice, strategy development, assessment services, transformation planning and design development.

The great thing about having a platform which brings together Keysources’ specialist consultants with client IT and facility teams is that decisions are so much more informed. As a result, the collective output quality is extremely high and clients can typically achieve better delivery while minimising cost and risk.

 10. You spoke at the beginning about the rapid changes in technology changing our approach to data centres. More generally, how do you see the approach to data centre design/build/operations developing over the coming years?

Development in the sector is as interesting as ever and there are a few different themes that will influence a change in how data centres are approached in the coming years.

Firstly, the ever growing cloud offering, facilitated by hyperscale data centre players, are evolving to better tailor their services and the way they are delivered, with need for data centre availability not necessarily always being a priority. Instead we expect to see more customers focus on flexibility to better accommodate an ever evolving IT-infrastructure layer and the ability to drive commercial efficiencies while maintaining service levels.

Questions around how the sector can provide the infrastructure for the Internet of Things (IoT), and the emergence of industries such as smart buildings, self-driving transport and consumer automation are also going to play a huge role in driving change. We expect growth in ‘Edge’ data centres and therefore identifying a need for regional presence will become prominent over the next 12 – 18 months. Professional data centre operators are already considering their strategies with this in mind and we expect this to continue.

Meanwhile legislation and regulations will continue to influence the market and the likes of the General Data Protection regulation (GDPR), information security and Brexit will continue to be factors in the decision making process.

There is also an ongoing focus on resilience at the application layer, and the way this is enabled can now take many different forms. As a result, the hybrid-approach that many have already adopted is set to continue as businesses look to respond to challenges in both the data centre market and their own industries.

One thing is for sure with no silver bullet in sight for customers. Navigating the endless options and aligning these with wider business strategies will be crucial in the success of any project requiring data centre services.

11. And how do you see Keysource developing to help address these trends?

Keysource is always looking ahead to understand how we can better support our customers with foreseen trends and the challenges that emerge alongside.

Strategy and approach are key to what physical assets and service are procured in order to deliver on customers’ requirements. And, support from trusted partners will continue to be needed.

One thing is for certain, our need to continue to innovate is key in order to provide the different ways of thinking and agility to a situation or problem.

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