The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable features insights from four industry executives with lengthy experience in the data center industry. Here’s a look at the insights from Douglas Adams of RagingWire Datacenters.
Douglas S. Adams, Founding Executive and Senior Vice President of RagingWire Data Centers, has more than 25 years of experience within the high technology and consumer packaged goods industries. At RagingWire, he has management responsibility for sales, marketing, design and engineering, IT, construction, and operations. During his tenure with RagingWire, the company has grown from a start-up to an industry leader with nearly 1,000,000 square feet of data center space in the United States. In 2014, RagingWire became part of NTT Communications making it part of the global network of 140 data centers operated by NTT Communications as part of the Nexcenter brand. Previously, Mr. Adams was vice president of sales and marketing, and general manager, for NEC Technologies, Inc. with executive responsibility for sales, marketing, technical support, and customer service for NEC’s magnetic and optical data storage products. Adams has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration-Marketing from the University of Southern California.
Here’s the full text of Douglas Adams’ insights from our Executive Roundtable:
The Impact of Cloud Computing
Data Center Frontier: How is the rise of cloud computing impacting the data center market? How do you see this trend playing out between major public clouds, service providers and in-house corporate data centers?
Douglas Adams: Cloud computing is one of the primary drivers of data center demand in today’s market. For colocation providers, cloud computing enabled a whole new generation of potential clients that deliver innovative applications using the cloud as both the network backbone and as a way to consume compute and storage. These clients build their businesses on the cloud. Where does the cloud live? In data centers.
Having cloud providers as part of your ecosystem is very important to data center providers. A barrier to cloud adoption has been the perceived security risk. These issues are being addressed quickly. A second constraint on cloud adoption has been the transit considerations for connecting to the clouds. This is a serious drawback for both cost and security. Progressive, at-scale multi-tenant data centers will address this issue by creating ecosystems of private and public cloud providers. These ecosystems will allow their clients to operate their legacy systems, alleviating interoperability concerns, and still be able to affordably and inexpensively connect to the cloud.
The important thing is that whether you are a cloud provider or a colocation provider – scale matters. At scale providers get economies in production and efficiencies in operation that they can pass along to their customers and win in the marketplace.
The Evolution of Regional Markets
Data Center Frontier: In recent years the data center business has seen solid growth in geographic markets outside the tradition major data hubs. What are the most promising markets, and what trends will guide where we see growth in regional markets?
Douglas Adams: The reality is that the top data center markets are top markets for a reason. They have the critical mass and optimal mix of robust fiber and telecommunications, reliable and cost effective utility power, experienced data center staff, and the economic incentives so that the data center ecosystem can thrive.[clickToTweet tweet=”Douglas Adams: The reality is that the top data center markets are top markets for a reason. ” quote=”Douglas Adams: The reality is that the top data center markets are top markets for a reason. “]
Once momentum in the data center market is achieved, it’s hard to stop. The top 15 data center markets globally represent 70 to 80percent of global data center sales. The top 6 US markets represent over 70 percent of US sales, and the US represents over 50 percent of the world’s data center sales. In the data center business, it is all about location, location, location.
Regional data center markets will develop as a hub and spoke to top markets, not as a replacement. There is growth in regional markets, but it is off of a small base.
RagingWire’s strategy is to have a significant presence in the top data center markets in the United States. We have close to 1,000,000 square feet of data center space in Ashburn, Virginia and Northern California, and we have broken ground on an additional 1,000,000 square feet in Ashburn as well as a new 1,000,000 square foot campus in Dallas, Texas. Being a part of NTT Communications not only provides our clients AAA+ financial security, but it also allows us to provide data center space globally as part of the 140 locations operated around the world by NTT Communications under the Nexcenter brand.
The Role of Pre-Fabricated Designs
Data Center Frontier: Factory-built components are playing a larger role in data center deployment. What’s your take on the impact of pre-fabrication in data center construction, and its role in the future of the industry?
Douglas Adams: The notion of containerized data centers is all but dead, except for single tenant facilities and some small outlying use cases.
What is working in the data center market is modularization. Driving the complexity and cost into the supplier’s hands and abandoning the old days of assembling and programing equipment in place is key to any data center provider offering a high-quality, affordable offering. Again, this is a case where scale is very important, as only at-scale providers can effectively push these costs up-stream to their equipment providers.
The Innovation Landscape in Cooling
Data Center Frontier: Cooling has been a key focus of energy efficiency efforts in the data center. Is there still opportunity for innovation in cooling? If so, what might that mean for how data centers are designed and where they are located?
Douglas Adams: From a technology perspective, the first generation of data centers was largely driven by telecommunications. The second generation was power driven. The next generation of data centers will tackle the cooling challenge.
The key to this issue is to avoid putting the burden on the end user. In today’s sophisticated IT market, data center providers need to add flexibility and reduce cost, but not require a client to adopt the provider’s specific requirements. For example, some providers require clients to use their specific racks, which may not handle non-conforming IT equipment (AS-400’s, mainframes, side-vent routers, etc.). This approach spells disaster for end users that are increasingly dependent upon prescribed pod architectures that cannot easily conform to the data center provider’s requirements.[clickToTweet tweet=”Douglas Adams: Components will operate efficiently at all levels of utilization, with zero waste.” quote=”Douglas Adams: Components will operate efficiently at all levels of utilization, with zero waste.”]
We don’t see a “silver bullet” technology as the answer in cooling. Rather it will be an integrated and automated system that extends from the data center facility to the individual rack and server. At the data center level you will see industrial components that operate efficiently at all levels of utilization – zero waste. At the rack and server level you will see increasingly targeted cooling capabilities that can be deployed without server downtime. The bridge will be software that monitors, manages, and adjusts the system based on external environmental factors (temperature, humidity, etc.) and computing usage (processor, storage, network devices, etc.).
For example, by using simple and cost effective hot aisle and cold aisle containment systems progressive data center providers are able to get very close to or even exceed the PUE’s of providers that require special racks and containment systems. Given the cost of the specialized racks and the small gains in efficiency, the lack of ability to handle non-conforming equipment and the lack of ROI make them not worth the effort.
Of course, that is today. Future technologies will change and there may be more flexible future solutions that have an acceptable ROI and still give the flexibility necessary for multi-tenant data center providers.