Podcast: How Smarter Customer Portals Improve Data Center Customer Experience

Frank Fini, Director of Operations Control at vXchnge, discusses the standardization of the data center customer experience. Specifically, we’re talking about how an on-site command center can add a layer of not just security but also convenience and ease of access of use for data center customers. Watch the video below and subscribe to our blog to be emailed Frank’s next podcast on his top data center security techniques and trends.


Transcript:

Benjamin: Hello, and welcome to the vXchnge podcast. I’m Benjamin Hunting. I’m here today with Frank Fini, Director of Operations Control at vXchnge. Today we’re discussing the standardization of the customer experience at a data center, but more specifically we’re talking about how an on-site command center can add a layer of not just security but also convenience and ease of access of use for data center customers. Frank, I want to say thank you for being with us here today.

Frank: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Benjamin: Frank, obviously terms like transparency, ease of use, ease of access, these are all very important to data center customers. What are some of the ways that vXchnge has worked towards bringing those concepts to the fore when pitching or dealing with potential clients or improving services for existing clients?

Frank: Well, customers…You put it best. Customers are really looking for transparency from their third party colocation providers where their highly evolved network deployments and high intensity power deployments are actually being housed and located. So to give customers multiple touch points where they can get a current status of their environment in the data center without physically being there is definitely a value add to increasing the length of time that they are actually colocating with you in your facility.

So having a site command center which is the local boots-on-the-ground team who have access to the customer’s environment, having a remote operation service and support center which has eyes and ears into every facility of the company, and then also having a customer center, where the customer can log in on their own time through the open internet, assuming they have proper authorizations to do so, and get a current status and feel for their environment is a value add, and it’s something that they’re looking for in a co-location provider before they make that decision on whether this is where they want to deploy their environment versus going shopping around for other co-location providers. So remaining transparent and having complete availability to all of that information and putting it in the hands of the customer definitely is something that they’re looking for as the industry tends to evolve over time.

Benjamin: Having the central command center, or as you put it in the past, the operation service support center, is this something that is an industry standard, or is this a value-added aspect of the data center experience?

Frank: I would say most colocation providers hopefully have a remote service and support center that can provide assistance to customers when the local team is not available or if they’re assisting other customers. But it’s what that remote service and support center can actually do on behalf of the local site operations team that differentiates colocation providers. How much information can you glean from a remote service and support center without needing to actually go visit the local data center or get in contact with the local site operations team?

Ultimately, remote support is 24/7/365. When you have multiple hands on deck that are overseeing multiple data center facilities, you have a much better chance of getting an effective and efficient answer more immediate than you do by reaching out to the local site operations team at that facility. Ultimately, you can always expect that there are persons available in a remote service and support center, whereas you may not understand what the current workload is at the site where your equipment is actually located. So it’s all about making sure you get an efficient answer, efficient response from somebody that’s working in your remote service and support center to make sure that your needs are being met in an expedient manner.

Benjamin: So we’ve already discussed customers reaching out to their data centers whether through operations service support centers or the command center that we mentioned earlier. Well, what about going in the other direction? What happens when you have a plan change or an unplanned event at the data center and you need to get in touch with clients? Do you guys have a protocol, or is there something the clients should look for in this event?

Frank: So that’s a great question. We have both of those things. When you onboard a client, they’re given pretty much a set of guidelines that vXchnge operations is going to follow should there be planned or unplanned events that occur at the facilities where they colocate with us. So if you have planned events, we adhere to an SLA of announcing those events to customers who opt in to receive mass communications from our global service and support center to let them know when that planned event is going to occur and how it’s going to change the operating status of the data center. So when you have emergent events or unplanned events, you need to react rather quickly to give an expedient notification to those customers, again letting them know that there was a change in the operating status of the data center.

So the common denominator there is whenever we’re altering states or working on a quick mend or whenever we have hands in the plant, as we like to say, we want to notify customers that we’re performing work at the data center and there could be a heightened risk or reduced redundancy based off of the systems that we’re currently working in. And that’s from a network and from a facility standpoint, which is pretty much commonplace.

So the one area that we are not familiar with and we may not be all knowing is what preventative measures or precautionary measures the customers would need to take on their side outside of the data center itself. So what logical steps have they invested capital funds in to make sure that they can protect their network environment and their physical environment from any risks that are occurring at the data center at any given point in time? So customers have the option to come to us and ask to receive such notifications. And it’s very important for us to make sure that we stick to the guidelines that we’ve announced to customers and stick to the SLA which they’re expecting us to communicate by which was also listed in handbooks and master services agreements which they agree to with us. So we want to make sure that we are being consistent and that we’re giving customers totally transparency into what’s happening in the data center environment at all times.

Benjamin: Frank, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today.

Frank: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Benjamin: Be sure to subscribe to our blog to be emailed Frank’s next podcast on his top data center security techniques and trends.

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