I am participating in the 4th annual Hosting Transformation Summit in sunny Las Vegas today and have just listened to some heartwarming news from Dan Golding the head of Tier1 Research. Dan kicked off the morning with his Keynote "Managed Hosting and Colocation in 2009 and beyond."
Dan described the Managed Hosting and colocation sector as "on fire" The sector is humming - incredible growth, outstanding execution, blowing away expectations. I must say, looking back 5 years ago after the tech bubble collapse, I can't believe how strong the sector bounced back from those very difficult times.
His presentation was focused on a future, and a longer view for the industry. The HTS conference is packed this year with the largest attendance of Data center owners, Managed hosting and colocation companies ever to attend this conference.
Demand steady or increasing in all markets, driven largely by capex constraints and greater awareness and choices. Supply is growing more slowly in the past 18 months as the credit crunch has hurt the ability of providers to expand ( it is very hard to get mortgages, loans only on new data center projects). Expansion build-out of existing shells is occurring, but very little on spec. Demand Growth of 15% in 2008. (Steady and increasing in the out years) However after supply growth peaked at 7.5% in 2007 supply growth now has slowed to 5%
Dan believes that supply growth will pick back up again in 2011. Conclusions - supply is tight, demand is high and growing - this very good news for the industry.
Some other trends:
The green initiatives are more than just a trend as data center owners who don't figure out how to maximize power efficiency will be painted as villains.
Internet traffic and services consumption are linked as Internet traffic growth has been doubling every year (2005-2007).
Prediction: 2011 - 2012 - internet traffic will get an exaflood - it is coming with a new breed of applications (set to boxes HD Video, games, etc.) that will drive new traffic patterns. Growth driven by consumer broadband + applications (HD video) applications, which in turn will drive demand for Managed Hosting / Colocation Services:
Managed Hosting Services Highlights
Incredibly fast growth 30%+
$10 Billion worldwide revenue by end of 2008
We'll keep growth pace until at least 2011
Good news, Dan believes that fears about slowdown in growth are wildly overblown.
Why is managed hosting growing so fast?
Demographic shifts - new breed of IT employees that embrace outsourcing
Growth in internet applications (SaaS) The acceptance and growth of browser based applications has been enormous!
Ambiguity between web hosting and managed hosting has turned positive
Dan's Key success factors managed hosting and services
High margin services - and not too many - it is so tempting in our day to day business when a customer comes along and wants to come and give us money for a unique on-off service - at this point the answer has to be no or do it through a partner.
High level of support delivery is critical - don't cut pay in support people or outsource support to save a nickel - what you are selling is support. Keep doing this well or you will head into a bad place - just as examples in retail like Home Depot and others who have struggled with customer service challenges - the whole business starts to slide into the toilet - High levels of support delivers a strong word of mouth buying cycle
Final thoughts, the industry is healthy and will continue to thrive. Customers are looking for the one stop shop, one company that is a trusted advisor to the customer. As customers place more eggs in the Managed Service bucket, the industry will need to tighten-up those SLA's. Today some parts of the industry have been getting away with loose SLA's - as customers get more sophisticated and have more on the line, they will become more demanding and require robust multi-component SLAs and back-it up.
David Link is president and CEO of ScienceLogic. He and his partners built a thriving company from the ground up by focusing on delivering "products that just work" to the underserved IT infrastructure management marketplace. He has held senior management and corporate officer positions at large public companies.