The modern data center is a complex and multi-faceted ecosystem that presents a variety of challenges in terms of day-to-day operations. Not only do they need to host and manage high–performance IT equipment, but they also provide physical infrastructure for those assets.
From cooling and power to cabling and physical security, the data center environment has everything organizations need to deploy their sophisticated technology assets
and build the networks that allow them to connect with their clients. Keeping that infrastructure running efficiently and with minimal to no downtime requires a very specialized set of software tools.
Tier44 Technologies Inc., provides some of the data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software in the market. The company is a Premier ServiceNow Technology Partner and leading developer of Data Center Management software for government agencies, large enterprises, and managed service providers.
By utilizing Tier44’s award-winning products, data centers, operators, and owners can achieve ultimate application reliability using well-rounded data center management rather than isolated facility and IT hardware modules.
In conversation with Clemens Pfeiffer, President, CEO, and CTO of Tier44 Technologies Inc.
Q. How does Tier44 define innovation?
Tier44 is a software company with a robust background in software engineering, IT systems, data centers, operations, management, and services.
To be successful, we have to stay ahead of other partners and ServiceNow and re-invent ourselves as new ServiceNow capabilities and functionality is getting released. The way Tier44 is doing it is through innovation, implementing new solution capabilities, inventing ways to extend ServiceNow, and continuously improving our capabilities by leveraging new features from ServiceNow.
Q. How have you used innovation to overcome workplace challenges?
Our users face data center-related challenges every day, like keeping all equipment and applications running, planning for increasing demand in terms of server capacity, power, and cooling, performing annual audits, and handling incidents/service tickets. We see a long list of tasks and workflows that are performed in and around data centers.
We match them against out-of-the-box capabilities from ServiceNow, looking for opportunities and missing capabilities we can provide so users can do the task better, easier, and more cost-efficient or we can even find ways to automate the task completely.
Q. What do you do to improve your creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills?
I have to credit HP for this. Early in my career, I worked on critical customer issues, systems being down, and field technicians not knowing what to do. Whenever this happens, you have to come up with a solution or at least a workaround to minimize downtime for customers. I learned quickly to consider all aspects of the issue so that I could pinpoint the root cause of the problem and to follow some intuition about where to look and even more importantly what to eliminate to not waste time.
Over time you gain experience and it becomes natural to think that way not only by reacting to problems but also by proactively designing solutions. This allowed me to focus on the parts that have not been solved without just re-inventing what others already did. That leads to different methods, different innovations, and ultimately better products with features others don’t have or cannot easily replicate. While it’s natural for me, teaching it to others is not as easy.
Q. What impact did covid have on the company? How challenging was it to come back to normalcy?
COVID-19 had a big impact on us and we are not back to normalcy yet. In early 2020 we had planned for a new product release to be launched at the annual ServiceNow conference Knowledge 2020 in May. When COVID-19 hit and the conference was canceled, it stopped all new customer acquisition activities, killed the main lead generation channel, and turned everything from growth to survival. ServiceNow launched online conferences in 2021 and 2022 but it’s by far not the same. You can not replicate the level of energy and enthusiasm from a conference with over 20,000 people into a zoom meeting with people at home.
Unfortunately, we still have not seen an in-person conference yet, and the non-ServiceNow ones we see are nowhere near pre-COVID levels due to travel/office restrictions a lot of companies still have. While it’s challenging on the sales and new customer side, the innovation part did not stop as that is something we can control ourselves and certainly demand for automation is going up.
Q. What remarkably new things can you deliver to the marketplace in the forthcoming years?
There are two main areas we are focused on – first a more efficient task handling for people to do their jobs by innovative user interface improvements, and second, the introduction of Digital Employees, non-human users configured in ServiceNow, performing tasks automatically.
The first one for example reduces the time people need to complete a task, like in the upcoming quickscan audit application that allows a user to scan all equipment in a rack in a simple barcode scanning click, click, click fashion, reducing the time for a rack audit from 4 hrs to 1 hr. The second one adds Digital Employees to it allowing the use of an asset management strip for a fully automated rack audit reducing the time further to less than a minute per rack, allowing ongoing audits instead of the more common annual audits.
Enabling data centers to increase performance with robust software
Clemens Pfeiffer is the President, CEO, and CTO of Tier44 Technologies Inc. He started his professional career at Hewlett-Packard in Germany, first in a central European support role and later in a more proactive consulting role for compiler, database, and workflow technologies.
In 2007, he co-founded Power Assure as CTO. In 2014, Clemens started Tier44 Technologies, and acquired all intellectual property, patents, software, and most assets from Power Assure, taking the technology to the ServiceNow ecosystem by building datacenter-specific applications on the ServiceNow platform.