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Updated by Charles Bystock on 09/18/2014

data-center-consultant-cio-dreams-of-finding-1Are you planning to build or expand a new data center? Are you wishing your organization could find a viable alternative to data center operations as you currently know them? A data center consultant could be your most strategic investment.

If, that is, you find the data center consultant of your dreams. OK, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but the truth is consultants can vary widely in expertise and service offerings, not to mention personality, and all those factors play into selecting the one that’s right for your enterprise and your project. Let’s take a closer look.

Be prepared.

Assess and evaluate your current IT situation and needs. You can do a lot of this work yourself, to save time and perhaps money on the consulting side, but it’s a good idea to ask your data center consultant to at least review and discuss your data with you.

There’s a very good chance they will see details you’ve overlooked, especially in areas such as indirect costs. And without a complete and completely accurate assessment , you can’t make a useful business case to move forward or adequately compare options. The data center consultant of your dreams can help you develop a business case your fellow “C’s” can appreciate and get behind.

Data centers affect everything about your enterprise. Internal departments typically have varying objectives and priorities when it comes to IT services, and your customers have their own expectations. It’s complex, offering multiple risks if you make a decision-making mistake about your data center’s future. Less-than-stellar performance can lead to loss of customers and revenue, weakened competitiveness and a damaged reputation.

On top of all that, your enterprise is unlike any other, in subtle and more substantial ways. Data center solutions that are ideal for someone else won’t be right for you.

All this adds up to one thing: you need a data center consultant that has double-barrel expertise – in both IT management and senior business management. One or the other won’t suffice, because the two are inseparable when it comes to determining what IT solutions will support your organization across the board.

What else makes for a “McDreamy” data center consultant?

  • Intimate familiarity with the current marketplace. This is the toughest part of their job, given the fluidity of evolving technologies and ways to string them together. The population of providers is hardly static, either, adding opportunity but also greater complexity to your continuum of choices. And hybridization is becoming the new normal for data center operations.

Ultimately your consultant’s core responsibility is to help you weave your way through all the options, select the ones that make sense for your company now and provide the power and flexibility you’ll need to remain competitive in the future, then coalesce those options in a unique-to-you package.

  • Holistic approach. Which brings us back around to the fact that the “dreamiest” data center consultant is one that can fully understand your organization as a business in addition to understanding your IT operations. The best data center consultant will have you focusing first on the results you want and require, then the solutions that meet those needs.

  • Cost-consciousness. Your corporate financial picture is unique, too, and your budgetary requirements and cashflow are important factors when it comes to negotiating the provisions of sourcing contracts – yet another area where you can benefit from the right consultant’s insight and experience.

And on a related note, you have to pay your data center consultant, but how each firm charges for their services can be quite different. Performance-based is best, because results are what counts.

  • The personal side. Don’t select a consultant without meeting them in person. Exploring data center options is a team effort, bringing your consultant and your key people together to devise solutions. If you like them personally and have similar working styles, you’ll achieve far more in less time. 



Photo Credit: @edith_soto via Flickr.