Is online shopping coming to the colocation market? Maybe not just yet, but it's getting closer. CyrusOne has created an online portal that allows end users to configure cabinets and get pricing for data center space.
The CyrusOne Market Place allows colocation clients to get pricing using the new CyrusOne Express service, and allows enterprises seeking cages and wholesale space to submit a specific configuration and get a callback from a sales representative. The tool makes colo shopping easier, particularly for small and mediaum-sized businesses (SMBs).
“Launching the CyrusOne Market Place is an exciting step as we see companies of all sizes searching for the optimal data center solution," said Kevin Timmons, chief technology officer for CyrusOne. "Simplifying and automating the purchasing process eliminates some of the primary concerns our SMB customers, in particular, have shared with us.
“The scale of CyrusOne data centers and shared infrastructure platform allow us to easily dedicate space in our facilities for SMB customers," Timmons said. "We’re supplying predetermined power, connectivity, and racking solutions in the configurations that most SMB customers need while still successfully serving the needs of our core enterprise business."
A Look Inside the Data Center Floor
Using the marketplace tool, customers can review available space in CyrusOne data centers in the United States, UK or Singapore. Once a location is chosen, the customer is presented with a floor plan of what’s available in the facility. For example, if a customer chooses Phoenix, the tool gives a real representation of the Data Halls within, with the space broken up into enterprise space and SMB cabinet configurations. Here's a look at the interface:
After choosing space, prospects can provide granular details about their needs, including the number of racks and power density per rack. Customers can choose Remote or Smart hands, as well as how many cross connects and bandwidth needs. Finally, a customer chooses whether the space is for a production operation or disaster recovery, and whether there’s a need to balance the operational needs across several sites.
It’s not quite one-click purchasing, but it’s perhaps the closest a colocation provider has gotten. Colocation is becoming more "direct to consumer," and this tool is just one example of this growing trend.
There’s been reason to be skeptical of these types of colo marketplaces in the past. Most attempts have been more helpful for the provider than customer. Previous attempts have basically been forms to fill that lead to a Request for Quote (RFQ).
The CyrusOne portal provides the customer with deep insight into CyrusOne’s available footprint, and while the enterprise options aren’t quite "click to buy," the tool may speed up the sales cycle and automate several steps in the process. The CyrusOne Express packages appear to offer a convenient entry point into colocation for SMBs. Upfront pricing and preconfigured solutions make the process easier, and being easier is something colo needs to keep up with an increasingly automated, outsourced IT world.
Implications for Transparency, Pricing
This tool has several potential implications for the colocation industry. The first is that providers don’t usually offer this kind of transparency, as the traditional method of buying space isn’t this straightforward. These type of purchasing tools also threaten colocation brokerages, as it might prompt other providers to provide a similar service, eliminating one major value proposition that brokerages offer – simplicity for multi-stop shopping.
There are also pricing implications, particularly with the CyrusOne Express packages. These packages have upfront pricing and are month-to-month, rather than annual or multi-year contracts. This upfront, transparent way to deal with the SMB is needed if colocation hopes to win with the small business market, which is increasingly attracted to the simplicity of setting up cloud services.
“The CyrusOne Express line up is a fantastic offering geared to those small to medium-sized businesses currently managing their IT needs by keeping their critical IT equipment in an office closet or a simple office building without the back-up electrical, cooling, or generators needed to ensure 100% uptime and availability,” said Scott Brueggeman, chief marketing officer, CyrusOne.
Industry observers report seeing signs that retail colo pricing is facing pricing pressure. This upfront approach to SMB colo could lead to more competitive pricing if other providers jump on to this idea - which they well may, as this approach makes colo more attractive to the SMB.