Data center marketing speak can come in many flavors

Gartner has identified key go-to-market strategies for data center providers

Just the other day I was talking with a friend whose middle school-aged daughter is trying to figure out how to start selling to local stores clothing that she’s designing and sewing. My friend and I talked about marketing – and hit on several aspects of her daughter’s story that add up to a marketer’s dream: she’s young, incredibly talented, a hard worker, and she’s decided to donate a percentage of her sales to a cause she cares about, which is diabetes research. But the most important aspect of that marketing plan is that the story is true.

Which leads me to this: Gartner recently released a report that identifies six strategic marketing options technology and service providers should consider when promoting their wares and offerings. So, let’s go over them.

1. Compete as a Specialist. This, says Garner, lets providers focus in on one technology area so they can be perceived as best-in-class in their technology area rather than a one-stop shop. The goal is to earn a reputation as the provider with the most innovative or advanced technology. But there are challenges – the completion can be fierce.

2. Go to Market as a Traditional Portfolio Provider. This is pretty much the opposite of the above, as portfolio providers aim to be those one-stop shops selling all or some of the various components that make up the data center infrastructure. In the traditional portfolio provider model, Gartner notes, these technologies are developed in-house, and the key advantage is often the provider's size, with ample resources on hand to focus effectively on more than one technology area and even produce successful, if not always groundbreaking. Sometimes, though, heft slows you down.

3. Partner to Achieve a Portfolio Offering. A provider can also focus on partnering to complete its portfolio of data center infrastructure components, allowing the provider to focus resources on the things it does best and rely on partners for the rest. Partnerships – like all relationships – can be difficult and require resources to manage and nurture them.

4. Develop a Converged Offering. Gartner says some portfolio providers have developed converged systems or integrated offerings for the data center – the ultimate one-stop shop. If the trend toward convergence in the data center continues into 2012, then going to market in this way could position providers as market leaders rather than market followers, according to Gartner. The market research and consulting firm also points out that undertaking this strategy is a bold move that requires vision of a new kind of data center, commitment to new relationships between providers and customers, and significant investment.

5. Hedge Your Bets by Using Multiple Approaches. Of course, there’s always the basket with (almost) all the eggs, or as Gartner puts it, a multi-pronged approached that lets providers sell both in the traditional, silo-based way and as a converged system or integrated stack. Going to market both ways allows providers to cover all the bases no matter what buyers opt to do, Gartner says.

6. Sell Your Data Center Technologies as a Service. Finally, the last option is to deliver the technology as a service - cloud or otherwise. The customer can own the infrastructure and the provider operate it, or the provider can own the infrastructure and have the customer operate it. Of course, the provider can also own and operate the infrastructure.

Whatever the go-to-market strategy a provider employs, it better be grounded in truth. At least, that’s my two cents. I’m interested. What’s yours? What strategic marketing plans capture your attention, and more importantly, your all mighty dollar?

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