We talk all the time about change. Technology, cooling systems, demand, and so on. But what can often go unnoticed is how clients change with this. It can be easy to focus on the industry as a whole, and neglect to notice how customer profiles develop at the same time, and how this can affect business relationships.

We sat down with our panel at the recent DCD>New York event to discuss how the enterprise relationship with the colocation market is evolving. What became immediately apparent is that across the industry, relationships are changing on both sides.

Alex Veytsel, Chief Strategy Officer at RampRate, has seen this in a sales context.

– Getty images

“Overall, we've seen a transformation from relationship-based sales to more of a holistic data-driven decision. From an individual going out and visiting sites and reporting ‘that this one looks good,’ to becoming much more of a team decision that's collaborative between all sorts of parts of the organization: technology and finance within the company.”

This has been exacerbated by the pandemic. People were unable to visit a place, and precedence had to be given to other factors affecting a location choice.

It is not only in a business agreement context that shifts can be noted. Steven Lim, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product for NTT, notes changes in the clients themselves.

“The key thing that we're seeing evolve is that the level of sophistication continues to go up. I would say five, six, seven years ago, the largest consumers of colocation: the hyperscalers, were very sophisticated and had very specific requirements. The enterprises tended to do smaller deployments with lower densities.

“I think the gap between those in recent years has collapsed in a big way. What I mean by that is that the enterprises are actually doing very sophisticated deployments at a much smaller scale and even in some cases, at a larger scale. We're seeing higher density, we're seeing a greater focus on connectivity, cloud service, and integration.”

The pandemic has also affected customer needs. Kevin Imboden, Director of Research at Cushman and Wakefield, noted a drastic change in customer service requirements.

“We just did a look back over the last 12 months, and our smart hands usage is up over 35 percent. That's just one indicator of the fact that our clients are saying, ‘Hey, I need to take care of whatever these tasks are in the data center, can you do that for us?’. We encourage our clients to do that, and we came up with lots of ways to make it very cost-effective, and in some cases, have no charge at all to take care of some of those services. That was really a direct impact of the pandemic. We didn't want people in the data center unless they absolutely needed to be there, from a [COVID] spread perspective.”

These changes are not necessarily for the worse, especially with data center demand continuing to rise strongly.

“What is interesting is that if you look at our opportunity and our deal size, we've seen dramatic increases over the last year. I think that what we're seeing is companies and enterprises, in particular, being forced to shift their business models as people are working from home. And, as their bandwidth needs are increasing, we're seeing more and more enterprises coming to colocation much faster than they were two years ago.”

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