Competition in the data center
infrastructure and services market is fierce, and
things aren't likely to let up anytime soon. If there's any
economic sector where betting on growing demand is a sure thing,
integrated computing and telecommunications is probably it.
Organizations are bumping up against bandwidth and system
complexity constraints, and they're increasingly turning to
third-party data center and cloud services providers to help
design, build, administer and manage their networks.
In a new report, Gartner Group
identifies six alternative strategic approaches IT managers are
beginning to use "to view the data center more holistically."
Studying these six alternatives can yield benefits to both customer
IT managers and technology and service providers that "sell into
the data center," according to Gartner.
"Today, you have increased competition not only in your specific
area of technological expertise, but for overall enterprise mind
share, as well. Providers will need to expand their view of the
competitive landscape and consider alternative ways to go to market
in order to highlight their strengths and maximize their sales
potential," said April Adams, a Gartner research director.
Here's a synopsis of the six alternative data center
"go-to-market" approaches, that spells out, according to Gartner,
the primary advantages and disadvantages of each in terms of
marketing, product marketing, product management,
marketing communications and brand
Option 1. The Specialist
- Primary advantages: The approach is familiar; build
"best-in-class" brand recognition.
- Primary downsides: A changing market environment means keeping
at the cutting edge and facing down new competition.
Option 2. Traditional Portfolio Provider
- Primary advantages: Enterprise size and resources capable of
covering a broad range of technology and services that meet
customers' marketing strategies.
- Primary downsides: Losing out as the market moves towards
integrated, converged solutions.
Option 3. Partner to Achieve a Portfolio
- Primary advantages: Can build a portfolio while continuing to
focus on core strength.
- Primary downsides: Partnerships can be "fickle," and require
more in the way of resources than anticipated.
Option 4. Develop a Converged Offering
- Primary Advantages: A definitive strategy with the potential to
position the provider as a market leader.
- Primary Downsides: A bold, risky move as it commits the
provider to building a new type of data center and new types of
relationships with customers. Requires significant investment and
good ROI but over the long-term.
Option 5. Hedge your bets with multiple
- Primary advantages: Covers all the bases, as providers can
offer customers products and services on a "silo" basis, as well as
a converged system or integrated stack.
- Primary downsides: All the disadvantages of both the portfolio
and converged systems approaches.
Option 6. Sell Data Center Technologies as a Service -
Cloud or Otherwise
- Primary Advantages: Flexibility to offer at least four
alternative customer-provider relationships for data center
infrastructure. Allows providers to keep to what they know best
while meeting the needs of customers.
- Primary Disadvantages: Challenges related to if and how to
transition existing customers to these models or to embrace "a dual
strategy" that entails selling both traditional and service models
Gartner's Adams noted that, "Considering these trends as part of
your forward-thinking, go-to-market planning and making thoughtful
decisions based on your company's unique set of strengths and
weaknesses will position you well in the changing market and could
give you a marked competitive advantage relative to providers that