Recently we interviewed Tom Kiblin, VP of Cloud and Managed Services, as well as Chris Rechtsteiner, VP of Marketing at Deft. The topic of discussion: Adapting to the rapidly shifting data center services market by taking a hybrid approach that straddles the line between being a service provider and being a consultancy.
This article will discuss some of the insights from the Deft team, as well as what they feel the future of the data industry will look like.
About the Guests, and How Server Central Became Deft
David’s two guests represent over half a century worth of experience in data services.
Chris started with Bell during their divestment into regional sub-companies. He began his career by working in various Central Offices, which housed shared communications equipment. This early telecoms model eventually evolved into the kind of data center structure that is seen all over the world today. His experience at Ma Bell eventually brought him to Server Central, around 8 years ago.
Tom started his career on the sales side, becoming a hardware vendor to ISPs. After being introduced to the world of data centers, he fell in love with that side of the industry. He left the vendor world to start some small businesses focused on web hosting and managed services. Seven years ago, Tom joined the Server Central team.
In recent years, their company became more focused on business outcomes via technology delivery, rather than simply providing server space. The development of hybrid data center services that focused on client solutions meant that Server Central was following a more consultancy based model. Their company name became less relevant as hybrid cloud began to take over the market. So a rebranding was in order. After a ton of internal discussion, Deft was born.
What Are the Data Center Trends That Deft Sees for 2021?
Deft serves a lot of different kinds of customer needs: Hybrid cloud services, colocation, management of both on and off premises networking assets, and third party service integration. Kubernetes and other container based cloud servers are some of the hottest products for a lot of their clients. Auditing and consulting services are also quite popular. Public cloud has become an important cost saving component in quite a few client networks. AWS and Azure are go-to resources, even for hardcore co-location clients. Almost everyone has a hybrid solution, at the end of the day.
Analysis of customer workloads allows Deft to advise clients through their data planning stages. One of the most important questions that they ask is: How are the clients utilizing the technology in their possession, and where do they want to be in the near and the distant future?
Deft has found that some clients leap fully into the cloud before they really look. It is often in a client’s best interest to slow down, and not just blindly commit to putting all of their operations in the cloud. The more time and attention put into a detailed, nuanced plan, the better the functionality and cost savings. Getting better metrics for the use of each business application, and examining the potential growth of each app over the next few years, are two of the keys to a successful migration.
This form of analysis represents the consultancy side of Deft’s business model. They find themselves fighting against initiatives that drive businesses to ‘follow the leader’ just because senior leadership read some generalized studies that urged full cloud conversion. They encourage a more scientific approach to future planning, preventing clients from chasing buzzwords unless the metrics and cost considerations bear out such a dramatic technology shift.
Over the last five years, Deft has been able to go to the locations where clients wanted to migrate, following them to several continents throughout the world. Big business partners will often ask for services in the likes of Sydney, Brazil, Tokyo, and Amsterdam. Once data center services are up and running in those new locations for their old clients, Deft will open up the doors to new customers in the region.
Typical hybrid data center services that are on offer in these new locations include: Ping/power/pipe, MSP services for AWS, white glove services like disaster recovery, automated backup, managed firewall solutions, security monitoring, connectivity solutions, IP transport, and transit, backbone services, and edge network solutions.
Each facility is close to a peering point with low latency, which can then be used as a way to scale businesses all over the region. Because Deft is privately held, they can do what is best for their clients and closely follow their needs with bespoke services. Then the most successful of these specialized services can become a more broadly available product, open to all clients.
Around 40 percent of Deft’s clients have some kind of global footprint, while 60 percent are strictly US based at the moment. However, a high percentage of those U.S. companies are multihomed throughout the nation. Points of presence throughout the continental United States allow Deft to offer low latency edge networking solutions, comprehensive data backup plans, and communications solutions that can virtually shrink the distance between satellite offices.
What Does the Future of Data Center Services Hold?
Tom and Chris had some predictions for the next year:
They said that the most exciting industry trend to happen during the pandemic was the recognition of the way that companies can use current technologies, rather than pushing them towards untested tech on the ‘bleeding edge’. In the past, only a small percentage of companies fully leveraged their available tech and networking options. The wake up call of 2020 and 2021 forced businesses to align their goals with what was possible at that moment. And now they can’t live without it.
Deft saw amazing growth during that period, and they expect more of the same through 2022. Work from home will be huge going forward. Virtualization will start to be favored over the ‘blinking lights’ rack ownership mentality. Hybrid cloud based services will continue to be leveraged successfully over the next few years. The businesses that tasted success with these strategies during the pandemic will maintain or increase their data services usage, rather than withdraw back into ‘business as usual’ practices.