Ever thought about how much procuring data center space is like competitive motorsports? If your answer to that question is no, then you’re probably like most of the world. But at Stream, we see things a little differently, and we think there’s a lot to be said for this unlikely parallel.
Take the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, for example (not to be confused with 24 Hours of LeMons — we’ll get to that later). Sure, there are folks in our attention span-limited world who think a 24-hour long race is a bit extreme, but Le Mans isn’t about a sprint to the finish, and neither are data center services! In either case, we’re looking at technically complicated, long-duration challenges that take planning, meticulous care and cooperation from dedicated teams to reach the finish line successfully, all while still prioritizing efficiency and keeping ahead of the competition. We believe activities like Le Mans offer a lot to learn about the do’s and don’ts of data center partnerships.
The Devil is in the Details
When you look at the winner of a normal race, you see a single car and a fast driver. At the Le Mans race, you see a single car cross the finish line — but it was piloted by at least 4 different drivers and supported by large interdisciplinary teams of engineers and technicians. To the uninitiated, auto racing seems simple and uncomplicated; that car was simply the fastest and encountered the fewest challenges to win the race. In reality, the car that crossed the finish line first is only one small part of a long chain of things that absolutely had to go right. It’s no different for a complex IT deployment within a data center. In both cases, one can only realize optimal end results via a carefully planned path, well-orchestrated processes and coordination amongst disparate team members.
In Le Mans racing, teams are using their expertise to drive the best outcome in a rapidly changing environment: How can we best prepare this track to deal with the incredibly high speeds of a long straightaway (while also optimizing for fuel economy)? How will changes in braking zones affect tire wear? What will the weather do to our vehicle and drivers, and how will it affect our competition? How can we manage fatigue to minimize careless errors by drivers and crew?
All of these minute details become vital in a fight for competitive advantages, and your IT requires the same due diligence. Understanding the desired outcome, the venue, the personnel involved and more helps drive the smartest decisions and greatest efficiencies — and all are key to achieving a winning data center experience. As with most complex tasks, the best choices come from smart, diverse teams who are dedicated to a common cause.
Who’s on Your Team?
In racing and in IT transformation, your teammates make all the difference. No one can master an endurance race without a team of co-drivers to trade shifts and crew members to change tires, refuel the tank and make sure everything is in shape for the long haul. Naturally, selecting the right group of experts is a make-or-break decision when prepping for long-term goals — both on the track and in the data center.
This is why Stream approaches customers’ needs with an understanding that long-term success takes a trusted partnership that guides you collaboratively through every part of the delivery chain. We put decision-makers at the table from the start, digging in with you at the beginning to understand your needs and build the right custom solution to get you where you need to go.
It’s the most frustrating (or even devastating) thing to prepare, practice, train and perhaps even lead a race only to lose it due to a small mechanical issue. It’s not uncommon for one car to outstrip the competition for 90% of the race duration only to fail in the home stretch because of an unforeseen mechanical challenge or mistake by a team member. When it comes to long-haul events, the failure can feel even more heartbreaking. It can happen in a digital transformation or complex IT migration too — but your odds are much better if you have the right people in your corner.
Stream knows we’re only one part of a complex undertaking, but we’ve learned over the past 22 years how to make our part of this complex puzzle as simple, successful and enjoyable as possible so that our clients are confident they can finish the race. This is why we’re trusted by Fortune 100s to help them get across the finish line.
Don’t Bring a Junker to Ferrari Fight
Now, let’s return to an activity that regular folks (like yours truly) get to participate in: the 24 Hours of LeMons. As it happens, lots of folks don’t have over 200 million euros for endurance racing — but we can swing $500 and some safety gear to participate in a 24-hour auto race. Even in this low-budget activity driving lousy cars (e.g. ‘lemons’) we can find some parting wisdom. Even with a bunch of amateur drivers in terrible (often hilarious-looking) $500 cars, the success of each car is driven by the culture and coordination of the team members. It’s extremely rare for the team with the fastest lap time or individual driver to win an endurance race. Instead, the teams that understand the importance of the phrase “You can’t win if you don’t finish” and care for their vehicles, maintain equipment and support each other in ways that drive consistent performance are the big winners at the track.
Remember this in your search for data center providers. Some might look the part and even sound like the real deal at first glance, but long-term performance is a much better predictor of the results and professionalism you expect.
To learn more about how your data center provider should be flexibly and adaptively meeting your evolving demands, check out my last blog, 5 Keys to Serving Enterprise and Hyperscale Customers Well (Spoiler Alert: Semper Gumby.)