Unsung Heroes in the Digital Value Chain

The utilization of submarine dark fiber is increasing. So is the capacity investments to connect data centers within a continent. In all the hoopla about cloud, cool gadgets, anytime-anywhere-content, and digitization of industries, there are unsung heroes. These heroes take the form of perceived old business players. They lack the swagger and the adulation that the cloud-gadget-content firms get.

These are the unsung heroes of the digital economy: the network providers, the co-location providers, and the power & cooling vendors for massive data centers.

This is the full picture of how these heroes come together to enable industry-level digitization.

Digital Value Chain: Production to Consumption of IT

Left to right is the value chain from technology enablers to technology providers to technology consumers.

Of course, I have just shown a few players in each category to illustrate the type of players, not the entire who’s-who.

Unsung Heroes

So who wants to hear about power and cooling? What does it take to cool a cabinet that consumes 400W? What about 42 Rack Units? Cooling isn’t cool, but today’s densely packed data centers owe their efficiencies to how well they are powered and kept cool.

Location, location, location, they say is key. But co-location providers from wholesale to retail don’t get as many songs of praise as Apple’s multi-football-field-sized data centers. If they didn’t optimize the space and the information highways that connect those spaces, we wouldn’t have high-density, responsive cloud computing.

Connectivity providers interconnecting data centers or continents used to be cool in the ’90s when the internet build-out boomed. Now they are just the pipes that we can’t virtualize fast enough so that cloud services can be provisioned quickly. Undersea cables? How cool can they be! Dark fiber? Is that a Star Wars character? Nope, lighting up all that fiber and connecting devices that form Industry 4.0 is in progress.

Well-sung Heroes

So much has been sung about them that I won’t sing more about them.

To-be Heroes

What is the point of all that cool and un-cool technology if mainstream industries can’t put them to use? Good news is that they are accelerating the application of IT in their offerings, from industrial manufacturing behemoths, to pharmaceuticals, to healthcare providers and financial service firms.

The heroes in classic industries will find ways to apply technology to improve their products and services, not just their back-office operations.

When integration of IT in to industrial products and services becomes so common-place and we don’t even realize that IT is powering them, we’d have a digital story to sing and dance about. I want to stream that story!

Hari Harikrishnan

Hari Harikrishnan

Digital Business Transformer
As a digital business executive, Hari is passionate about creating and modernizing businesses by infusing data and technology in product and service portfolios. Hari has led businesses from startups to enterprise incubations to Fortune 100 business divisions.

Hari has commercialized numerous products and services in industries ranging from healthcare to high-tech to manufacturing. His career spans leadership roles in general management, product, marketing, services, and strategy.

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