Vantage Data Centers announced addition of Critical Facilities Management services to its list of offerings. CFM services are a way to outsource day-to-day data center management expertise.
The Santa Clara, California-based provider's data center management suite includes consulting and custom on-site support from Vantage employees. That support goes as far as shipping and receiving of equipment, landscape maintenance, and trash removal.
Vantage is the latest multi-tenant data center provider to add facilities management services. Two other recent examples are T5 Data Centers, which started a facilities management company last July and QTS Realty, which launched a facilities management service in October. All three companies have traditional roots in wholesale colocation. Companies across this space have been looking for ways to diversify their services beyond providing space, power, and cooling to their tenants.
Vantage chief operating officer Chris Yetman said adding facilities management was a natural evolution for the company.
"This is the result of having been there ourselves, and us having been out and about in the market, having conversations," he said. "After bringing what we outsourced back in [think maintenance that normally is done by vendor], we realized that there isn't only a need for this, but we're very good at this."
QTS made similar comments about its decision "It was a natural progression for QTS to enter the critical facility management outsourcing space as we have designed, built, owned, and operated our own mega-scale data centers over the last ten years," said Danny Crocker, vice president of operations for QTS CFM. Crocker said reception from the marketplace had been exceptional since the October launch.
Besides data center providers themselves, there are companies that focus on critical facilities management as their core business. Giants like HP also offer CFM services.
Vantage either works with an existing team or sends a team to your data center to manage everything on site. The team will also make suggestions for ways to optimize customers' facilities.
Focus on Computerized Maintenance Management Systems
Vantage will work with a customer's existing systems and tools or bring in its own, including its own Computerized Maintenance Management System. "We find many systems are often capable but not managed correctly," Yetman said.
"We’ve restructured our CMMS (which we will make available to the customer). We link the records in the CMMS to the dependencies. Let’s say you have a CRAH unit -- it knows and has the dependency on the power panel that feeds it. We take it a step further and tell customers and what specific people or teams are potentially affected with maintenance. If something goes wrong, we can tell the exact impact."
Even the best systems can be subject to entropy over time, according to Yetman. To combat this, Vantage built in reporting that indicates what might be falling apart. Instead of yearly maintenance reports, it's a weekly occurrence, so nothing ever falls out of control without notice.
The company has spent a lot more time on training and understanding the data center equipment. It currently aims for a certified technician for each UPS on each staff on each shift, for example. "We save money by not outsourcing maintenance, and there's job satisfaction from the crew because we’re investing in their education," he said.
A lot of the traditional parts of running an enterprise data center are being outsourced to leverage economies of scale. Itss colocation for physical space and power; it's cloud for IT; and facilities management is for day-to-day operations.
There are several reasons to consider outsourcing the day-to-day. Potential Vantage customers may be stuck with underperforming teams because facilities management isn't their core competency. "A company may be more about software development than running the servers, so they don't put a focus on it," said Yetman. "They're too busy putting energy in another part of the business."
Some customers are also disappointed with existing maintenance contracts with vendors, because a vendor can't provide this level of individual care.
More Potential for Sale-Leaseback Deals
Besides another revenue stream, addition of facilities management services gives Vantage and others a possible avenue for expansion through sale-leaseback transactions.
"If we look at a facility and fall in love with the environment and underpinnings, there’s a chance we can ask to take it further off your hands," said Yetman. "We can see if there’s opportunities to further our footprint, and maybe even give us opportunity to expand in that market; then open up more space. It would free up capital for the company [customer], and we'd run it for them. Our economies of scale would mean it would run more efficiently and we'd still have an opportunity to get a margin."