Each month, we profile a Global Solutions Architect (GSA) and highlight his/her work with our enterprise customers. This month’s profile takes us just 30 km west of Frankfurt, the telecommunications capital of Germany, to Wiesbaden, where we spoke to Klaas Mertens.
Klaas has been working in the telecommunications industry his entire professional life, starting as a network administrator and “working up” to plan and design multinational WANs for global companies. He learned how to design and build his first data center “by doing” and addresses many problems in general IT by trying to find effective and creative ways to overcome them.
Klaas enjoys scuba diving in the Red Sea and hopes to someday dive off the Maldives in the Indian Ocean-Arabian Sea.
Q: What challenges do you see in German enterprise IT today?
A: In building global WANs, I found that a centralized, monolithic network design is becoming more unsuitable for modern flexible IT requirements such as cloud services. These services are no longer only provided from a single location, but are now dispersed over a variety of clouds and locations. A more flexible, hub-centric network design, such as with the Equinix Performance Hub, is a better fit for the modern enterprise customer. Being able to design those flexible IT architectures to help enterprise customers to find their way into the cloud and modern IT is one of the reasons I enjoy working for Equinix.
Q: Are German enterprises adopting cloud services?
A: Overall, German enterprise IT customers are quite conservative and risk-averse, and want to know as many details as possible about a solution before implementing it. The majority of enterprise customers in Germany belong to the so called “Mittelstand,” or small to medium-sized enterprises that often are privately-held and family-led companies in rural areas of Germany. Thus, cloud services are not used in Germany as much as in the United States or Asia-Pacific, where cloud adoption is much higher.
German customers are very sensitive about data control and data privacy and will only give their data to people they know and trust. It’s already a big shift for some customers to think about colocating their primary IT infrastructure in an Equinix data center instead of on-premise, where they can touch and feel their hardware – it’s even more of a shift for them to use cloud services. However, as we can show them that their data and applications are safe within an Equinix data center and they have 24/7 access to their stuff, they are more open to consider hybrid cloud solution.
Q: What are your customers expecting out of the cloud?
A: In general, German customers basically want to benefit from the flexibility and cost savings cloud services offer, but also want to clearly stay in full control of their infrastructure. Solutions like NetApp Private Storage, which allow them to store their data on their own private infrastructure and then “link” it into the cloud are very interesting to German customers.
To get to German enterprises and deliver those services, it’s very important to have a close relationship with mid-sized system integrators in Germany, who play a major role in thought leadership and advising their customers. Although German customers like to keep control of their infrastructure, they’re quite interested in managed services and want a one-stop-shop solution – but from somebody they can “feel and trust,” so the indirect and channel approach is very important in Germany. In addition, German customers like to leverage what has been designed and tested in United States Ì¶ so we have plenty of proof-points to share with them.