Networks Europe Issue 19 January/February 2019 - Page 14

14 INTERVIEW No limits By Rob Coupland, Managing Director EMEA, Digital Realty We spoke to Rob Coupland from Digital Realty about his views on the data centre industry both now and in the future… Digital Realty was formed in 2004 and supports the data centre, colocation and interconnection strategies of more than 2,300 companies across its secure, network-rich, portfolio of data centres located across the globe. Customers include organisations of all sizes and types, ranging from financial services, cloud and information technology services, to manufacturing, energy, gaming, life sciences and consumer products. What have been the most significant changes in the industry over the past five years? Businesses have really woken up to the value and potential opportunities in the data they hold. Where five years ago a company’s data strategy was all about the mechanics of storage and backup, firms are now focused on unlocking the potential value held in their data. This has led to increased 1 demands for data centre providers to enable a diverse ecosystem of interconnection for their customers. The adoption of innovative new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics has also led to providers helping customers to do much more with their data, and companies are increasingly adopting strategies to unlock new benefits and financial rewards from it. What are the main challenges for your sector? The data centre industry is in a strong position at the moment thanks to the rapid transformation in the creation and use of data. The challenge, for now, is helping customers to make the most of it to gain competitive advantages. In the face of the overwhelming explosion of information, driven by social networking, IoT, AI and mobility, companies often struggle with the challenges of providing access to and refining their data into real business value. This depends on businesses having access to the right data and engineering skills to extract that value. Another challenge for the sector is the speed at which business ecosystems are becoming dependent on digital ecosystems. Being in the right location with the appropriate speed and agility for a digital ecosystem to be competitive is a challenge we see customers face. Data centre providers need to offer flexibility in data environments so customers can respond rapidly to this transformation. In many countries, underinvestment in foundational infrastructure such as Internet connectivity and power threaten continued growth. Businesses and governments need to invest in both, and the data centre sector’s role here is to encourage this and illustrate to them the benefits of that investment. 2