Colocation Data Center Smart Hands: When Do I Need Them?

“Smart Hands” describes on-site technical support within a colocation data center. In this post, we'll explain what Smart Hands are and when you'll need them.

colocation data center smart hands
Matt Pinto

Aug 23, 2023


What are Smart Hands?

“Smart Hands” is a term used to describe on-site technical support within a colocation data center. It’s not exclusively telecom or data-center lingo, but it’s a term you’ll hear when you’re talking about colocation.

Billing for Smart Hands support can be structured as a monthly contract (for a fixed amount of support) or individual incidents handled at an hourly rate(although the cost per incident can be daunting, as part of a deliberate pricing strategy to incentivize a monthly contract arrangement).

Different Kinds of Smart Hands

There are typically three tiers of service available from most Smart Hands service providers.

Remote Hands

This basic level of on-site technical support provides physical assistance for network, server, and power-related tasks. You might find some providers are willing to include limited configuration support at this tier, too.

Remote Hands usually includes the following.

  • Shipping and receiving hardware and equipment

  • Installing hardware and equipment 

  • Installing or visually checking cabling

  • Labeling hardware / equipment and cabling

  • Visually checking equipment

  • Power cycling and rebooting equipment

  • Physical inventory and audits

  • Some basic hardware configuration assistance

Smart Hands

The next tier up provides the services Remote Hands covers, as well as additional assistance – you could expect the following from a Smart Hands service.

  • Complex hardware installation and cabling support

  • Complex hardware configuration assistance

  • Hardware monitoring services

  • Troubleshooting and resolution assistance

  • Operating system and firmware upgrades and patching

Managed Services Provider (MSP)

This is the deluxe package – there isn’t much that would fall outside the remit of a Managed Service Provider, unless you want to get really imaginative (and probably off-topic). If you have unusual requests, it’s best to discuss them with prospective providers, before signing contracts.

Why Do I Need Smart Hands?

There are several reasons a business might require this kind of remote physical assistance at their data centers or other locations. But for most businesses, it usually boils down to two main factors.


If your enterprise IT needs to necessitate your own equipment at a data center location that’s more than a couple of hours’ commute for your IT staff, then Smart Hands are essential.

Consider this scenario – one of your data center servers becomes unresponsive and needs investigating. No amount of remote troubleshooting is going to help in this situation – the device needs to be physically rebooted.

Assuming the reboot is successful, a business with no Smart Hands deployment is going to have to pay a highly skilled IT technician to drive for two hours, access the data center, and switch a server off and on again, before driving back for another two hours.

That’s four hours of wasted wages, along with at least two hours of impacted business services due to the downed server – and the promise of additional complications and wasted time if the reboot isn’t enough to fix the problem.

With a Smart Hands agreement in place, this situation could be resolved in a couple of minutes – and if the reboot isn’t enough to fix the issue, there’s now a specialist technician on-site with whom to communicate and who may be able to resolve the issue more effectively than the IT staff who would have driven over.

Resource Availability

Even if location isn’t an issue, and your data center is easily accessible from your main business location, the availability of your trained IT staff to resolve data-center issues can still be a factor in the choice to adopt Smart Hands services.

To meet the highest periods of demand for technical support, most IT staff work the same hours as most other teams, i.e., regular business hours or set shifts.

However, as IT and network equipment need to be maintained 24/7, it’s common for IT staff to be placed on an “on-call” schedule, so someone is designated as available around the clock to respond to any issues and avoid business disruption the following day.

This is obviously an additional running cost to the business, and not always an entirely effective solution, due to the increased capacity for human error or substandard response. Fully developed on-call incident management functions require careful planning and maintenance.

A Smart Hands agreement can effectively provide the same function, without the additional burden on in-house IT staff, and ensure that the level of technical support offered is consistently up to the job.

These are just two of the reasons businesses with data colocation needs opt for Smart Hands services. If your business is considering data-center colocation, then the Lightyear Telecom Operating System can provide you with clear, data-driven advice and assistance to help you put together your perfect colocation package.

Want to learn more about how Lightyear can help you?

Let us show you the product and discuss specifics on how it might be helpful.

Not ready to buy?

Stay up to date on our product, straight to your inbox every month.

Featured Articles