Jeff Peters, President and Co-founder of Focalized Networks, shares his valuable insights on how the company helps organizations solve intricate IT-related challenges through its robust portfolio of next-gen solutions providers.
Give us a brief overview of your company?
We understand that the rate of transformation in the IT industry is dynamic and impactful. As a trusted advisor for data center, cloud, and telephony services, we are dedicated to helping our customers quickly and effectively navigate the confusion that the ever-changing IT industry is causing. We bring our customers the unbiased, expert advice they need to stay ahead of the technology curve.
When it comes to providing quality, vendor-neutral, and unbiased data center selection services, our unmatched experience and expertise enables our customers to find the right location for their data center. Partnering with more than 150 data center providers globally, we can place our clients in over 1,600 data centers across six continents.
What are the solutions that you offer?
Selecting the right data center may be one of the most important decisions a CIO has to make. It’s a strategic, long-term decision that will reverberate throughout the entire organization. We are headed into the year 2020, almost all businesses are digital now. If you haven’t yet put your workloads into either a public or private cloud environment, you’re going to want a secure, robust data center to house your IT infrastructure.
With that in mind, we leverage our 20+ years of experience in this space along with proprietary data center selection tools to help our clients quickly narrow down which colocation facilities might be a good fit for their organization. For instance, they might need a data center that meets certain compliance requirements like HIPAA or ISO27001. They might also want to know which data centers offer various types of “Cloud Connect” services like MegaPort or Azure ExpressRoute so that they can easily leverage the hyper-scale and public cloud market if they so choose. We have purpose-built tools that provide this intelligence to our clients. We use IQ assessment forms to collect key information to help our customers navigate specific needs and find the perfect provider. Add to that our fiber location and carrier selection tools to help them evaluate what their connectivity options are. We even provide analysis around risk management criteria like proximity to nuclear reactors, fault lines, or hurricane zones. Put it all together and what you’ve assembled is a comprehensive data center selection process that saves clients time and money and gets them on the path to moving into their new data center faster.
We bring our customers the unbiased, expert advice they need to stay ahead of the technology curve
What are some of the common queries and concerns raised by your clients?
When we talk about data centers, one of the main concerns for CIOs is their security posture: how many layers of physical security (fences, gates, mantraps) are going to be between their cabinet or cage and the outside world? They may also want to know what “tier” a facility falls under (e.g., is it considered a “Tier III” or “Tier IV” facility, and what is the difference?), so we’ll guide them through those distinctions. They want to understand the power story at each facility: How many substations serve the site? Do they have battery backups? Do they have diesel generators? How much fuel do they have on hand, and how quickly can they get more in the event of an emergency? How long will their current fuel storage last under their current load? How many carriers are in a particular facility? How many more are on the street or nearby? We provide all available information and more to our clients so that they can make data-driven decisions about where they want to house their technology stack.
What are some of the recent trends that you see in this space?
The most obvious trend and one that’s been growing for several years now is the move away from traditional data center colocation to public or private cloud environments. Much of that comes down to a financial decision: As a CIO do I want to purchase my own hardware, rack and stack it in a data center, and be responsible for it for the next 3-5 years, or do I want to pay a cloud provider X dollars per month for the next 36 months or more for them to own, operate, and manage it? There are a lot of considerations that go into those decisions, and we have the tools, the experience, engineering expertise, and provider portfolio to help them make that decision.
For example, we recently helped two different energy clients here in Houston through that very same exercise. One of them crunched the numbers on colo vs. cloud, and at the end of the day, their CIO decided to go private cloud. We’ll be migrating their servers and workloads from disparate locations across the Southwestern US into a custom-built IaaS solution from one of our cloud providers. The second company, however, took a look at what it would cost to go IaaS and instead opted to buy their own HCI and deploy it across two data centers here in Texas.
Beyond financial analysis, we also provide clients access to our network and data center engineers if they have technical questions about how they might want to design their IT stack or layer in additional considerations such as SD-WAN.
Could you elaborate a little bit on your client onboarding process?
Our client onboarding process starts with a thorough and detailed assessment of their IT infrastructure. This helps us understand our client’s current technology posture and business objectives. From there, our engineering teams—data center engineers, SD-WAN engineers, UCaaS engineers, and project managers—design solutions for their unique business and IT-related challenges. For data center selection projects we leverage our global datacenter database, where customers can explore over 1,600 data centers worldwide with the ability to virtually visit them before making travel plans. Once we’ve narrowed the field down to a more manageable number of providers we’ll schedule data center tours so that the client can physically tour the facilities and make sure they check all of the right boxes. We then manage the negotiation process to ensure they don’t overpay for their service. Once they select which data center provider they’d like to move forward with we then walk them through the contract execution process, make sure that provider assigns project management resources, get them scheduled for move-in, and they are off and running. We stay involved throughout the life of the contract to ensure the provider they’ve selected provides the level of service our clients expect. Ours is a long-term relationship business so we work very hard as our client’s advocate to make sure our data center providers deliver on all of the promises made during the sales process. Remember, in most cases the sales rep is usually out of the picture after the sale, they’re off to make their next sale; our job is to ensure our client continues to receive the service level they were promised.
Why should customers use Focalized Networks to find their next data center?
We have taken part in hundreds of data center deployments over the years, and that experience is our core competency. With our tools and people, we help our clients quickly identify which DCs are a good fit for their company, negotiate the best rates, and help them through the deployment process, saving them valuable time and money.