New business opportunities for channel pros in the power and cooling market are on the rise, driven by long-term growth in the number of data center facilities, coupled with more recent consolidation trends that are resulting in equipment-packed server rooms.
Expanding data storage requirements and increasing utilization of physical servers through virtualization are two factors that have today’s businesses busy reconfiguring their data center infrastructures.
According to a 2009–2010 survey of 436 member data centers by Orange, Calif.-based AFCOM, a data center industry educational and business development association, more than 62 percent of respondents are either already in the process of consolidating one or more data centers, or seriously considering doing so. At the same time, more than 60 percent expect to require additional data center space within the next five years, and plan to handle the situation by adding to and/or upgrading existing facilities, or moving to a new facility.
Meanwhile, in a 2010 survey of 300 North American corporate data center executives commissioned by San Francisco-based technology real estate investment trust (REIT) Digital Realty Trust Inc., 83 percent of respondents plan data center expansions in the next 12 to 24 months. Some 36 percent of these respondents had definite plans to make those expansions during 2010, with 73 percent planning to add two or more facilities.
Expansion in the number of data centers and increasing server-room equipment densities are fueling demand for higher-capacity, data-and-equipment-saving UPS (uninterrupted power supply) and equipment cooling solutions, according to Jeffrey Sturgeon, vice president, marketing and solutions, for Emerson Network Power, a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of power and cooling systems and business continuity solutions for data centers and other facilities.
“As organizations become more IT driven and network enabled, servers, storage, and networks become more critical to their business,” says Sturgeon. Providing uninterruptible power in an efficient fashion that keeps these elements of IT infrastructure up and running is a necessity, he says. Moreover, increased utilization of physical servers through virtualization “requires specialized cooling to handle the higher-density environments.”
The pool of potential customers for channel pros seeking to do business in this sector of the IT infrastructure market is growing. “During the economic downturn, there was an increase in the number of data center operators, as companies chose to go to third parties instead of spending capital,” notes Sturgeon. “But we now see company-owned data centers beginning to grow again as well.” The need is rising in virtually all companies, he says, because of the underlying increase in data demand. “The key factor is whether they want to have their infrastructure outsourced or do it in house.”
Whether companies go with in-house or third-party centers, conditions are ripe for resellers and MSPs to tap into the market, says Sturgeon. Further, the time at which potential customers are looking to make changes to or upgrade their IT environment “is a natural time to assess their power and cooling needs,” he notes. It is also an opportune time “to provide an entire solution, including the power, control, and monitoring, at attractive margins.”
Channel Partners’ Role
Channel pros can capitalize on the growing UPS and cooling market by offering individualized assessments that help clients address their existing needs, enable them to prioritize as they plan their future purchasing requirements, “and position the channel pro as a partner,” Sturgeon says.
Resellers can work with major solution providers in offering assessment services. For example, Sturgeon notes that Emerson’s Liebert brand has a data center audit offering “that allows the reseller to quickly help their customer get an understanding of what best practices could be applied to their data center, as well as offering the reseller a great way to understand the product and service opportunities.”