Empowering Remote Data Center Management Through Self-Service

Direct communications and complete service visibility streamlines remote colocation management worldwide

Ron Koskinen
Empowering Remote Data Center Management Through Self-Service

The past two years of travel restrictions, logistics delays and equipment shortages have dramatically increased the need for enterprises to rely on on-site support for their colocated IT infrastructure. As a result, Equinix saw a 30% increase in the usage of Equinix Smart Hands®, our 24/7 on-site operational support service. Additionally, we found that more of our customers learned that they could, in fact, operate very effectively by leveraging Smart Hands for remote management, installation and troubleshooting of their data center equipment.

The increased reliance on our local teams for support drove Equinix to accelerate change as well. To provide greater transparency with our customers, we re-imagined the end-to-end customer experience for ordering, installing and maintaining physical IT infrastructure on Platform Equinix®. By providing an intelligent ordering and ticketing solution, the ability to bundle service capabilities, and enabling direct, real-time messaging and status visibility, our clients can virtually ‘team-up’ with Equinix technicians to complete activities from anywhere in the world. These new capabilities empower our customers to be more confident and effective when remotely managing their colocated deployments.

Extend the reach of your off-site IT staff

Equinix Smart Hands is an around-the-clock, on-site operational support service for the management, installation, and troubleshooting of your data center equipment.

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20141208_Datacenter Equinix P4

Making IT infrastructure management more self-service

The use of remote services ranges from the advanced to the mundane–all of which are critical to ensure that IT deployments are operating efficiently, can be managed, and can be upgraded as needed to deliver mission-critical functions for our customers. These actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Installing/removing physical equipment and cabling
  • Equipment/cabling maintenance, troubleshooting and testing (e.g., rebooting, cable checks, loop back tests)
  • Physical audits of equipment/cabling in cages
  • Receiving new equipment shipments and returning old equipment

In a previous blog, Remote Data Center Management Just Got Easier, we discussed the streamlined ordering enhancements that were launched in order to provide customers with transparency and insight into order status. Our latest release continues to streamline the user experience and place the customer in direct partnership with Equinix as our technicians deliver services.

Real-time service status and communications

We’ve improved visualization of the Smart Hands order and ticket status, enabling users to ‘find it faster.’ For example, new portal interface features include a “last updated” column capability to prioritize and respond to required actions. Visually, color-coded icons allow the user to easily parse scheduled versus expedited requests. And the ability to filter on “my orders” allows individual users to ‘cut through the clutter’ when multiple requests are being processed across multiple locations. This intuitive interface all happens within a single dashboard.

By tracking orders visually, as you can see in the screenshot below, the user can quickly sort through the process and status from submission to completion. This two-way status is the same for customers as it is for Equinix technicians, and highlights when an action is required from the customer and when a technician is available for direct communication. Communication can then be initiated right from the dashboard with a simple click.

Personalizing the user view is straight-forward with simple filters such as open orders, needs action or closed orders. Tickets may be filtered on product/ticket type, status, location and date range. And all of these applied filters are saved, making the next login seamless.

Tracking bundled orders

Our customers work on projects from end-to-end, not on point orders; therefore, bundling and tracking several activities is critical to ensuring their tasks get completed correctly, the first time. To ensure the full action gets completed, Smart Hands orders accept multiple services on a single ticket. For example, a simple equipment swap might include:

+  Inbound Shipment

+  Remove Equipment

+  Install Equipment

+  Install Cables

+  Outbound Shipment

Within the dashboard, the bundled activity view shows the individual status for each service requested, allowing for easy and intuitive tracking of the whole project.

Direct communications with Smart Hands technicians speeds services

By providing an intelligent ordering and ticketing solution…and enabling direct, real-time messaging and status visibility, our clients can virtually ‘team-up’ with Equinix technicians…from anywhere in the world."

One of the most exciting additions to Smart Hands capabilities is direct, near real-time communication between the user and the Equinix technician. As the technician begins work on the Smart Hands ticket, the user receives a message via SMS. The users may then directly exchange messages with the technician via the Equinix Customer Portal.

Communicating with technician through the Equinix Customer Portal

While the service ticket is in progress, messaging is enabled. Though not as fast as voice communication, asynchronous communication, such as text and chat, has a few distinct advantages. For example, as the technician works to complete each task, there is no need for the user to directly participate, making the use of time more efficient on both sides. Also, text communication adds clarity when working with a technician who might be deep within the noisy environment of the data center. Further, text messages are translated automatically into the native language to assist with communication anywhere in the world.

We’re taking the next step to further enhance near real-time communications with the introduction of Smart Hands Video. Currently in beta, service customers and technicians can now communicate via Zoom in select Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers.

Enabling Customer Feedback

Our focus on improving communications between technicians and customers was a direct result of feedback from our customers–challenging us to deliver a greater quality of service and timeliness to resolving any questions that may arise during service.

In fact, all of these enhancements were driven in partnership with our customers’ input and in response to the increased need for Smart Hands to deliver remote management more effectively. With this release we’ve made it even easier for customers to provide feedback on any completed order by incorporating one-click access to a survey/feedback form right on the main dashboard.

Learn more about Smart Hands enhancements by going to the Smart Hands Documentation Center.

 

 

One of the most exciting additions to Smart Hands capabilities is the direct, near real-time communication between the user and the Equinix technician."
Ron Koskinen
Ron Koskinen Director of Product Management, Infrastructure and Support Services
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