The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable features insights from industry executives with lengthy experience in the data center industry. Here’s a look at the insights from Dana Adams of Iron Mountain.
Dana joined Iron Mountain in 2015 and currently serves as Vice President & GM of the Data Center business. Prior to this role, Dana was Vice President of Portfolio & Operations of Iron Mountain’s legacy data center business, and was instrumental in the company’s recent M&A activity including the Fortrust and IO acquisitions and the sale-leaseback with Credit Suisse. Prior to joining Iron Mountain, Dana was the Vice President of Portfolio Management for Digital Realty, where she worked for 9 years as an asset manager and portfolio manager developing, leasing and operating data centers in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Dana holds a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College and a Master of Business Administration from Simmons College. At Iron Mountain, she has been instrumental in the growth of the Data Center business and is now positioned to lead both sales and operations in the Eastern US and UK.
Here’s the full text of Dana Adams’ insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: The long-predicted migration of enterprise IT workloads into third-party data centers appears to be gaining momentum. A key argument for keeping data and applications on-premises has been security. With the ongoing series of corporate data compromises, can service provider facilities – whether cloud or colocation – now make the case that they are more secure than the on-premises data center?
Dana Adams: We definitely see the migration of the corporate enterprise data center taking place with less and less resistance from internal stakeholders. This is partly driven by virtualization and the push to public and private cloud environments for increased cost efficiency, and partly driven by higher standards for security and compliance that are difficult to achieve in a sub-scale, on-premise legacy data center.
Just like data center operations, data center security and compliance are not typically the core competencies of the end user, whereas they are for a provider like Iron Mountain. A good data center services provider will ensure that physical security and compliance are woven into the design, construction and operations program for their data centers, and conduct regular monitoring through a combination of internal and external audits. Documentation and controls mapping should be standardized, which helps customer audits run smoothly. Our customers are often pleasantly surprised with how easy we have made their compliance certifications for them.
Data Center Frontier: Cloud platforms are seeking to expand at an accelerated rate. What has this meant to the data center supply chain and construction practices? What are the areas where data center developers can innovate to further improve the speed of deployment (and help address the capacity planning challenge)? Or have we reached our “speed limit” for data center deployment?
Dana Adams: There is no doubt that speed to market is a key measure of success for any data center development. Customers have tight timeframes for deployment and solutions are constantly lagging behind internal demand drivers, which keep accelerating at an astronomical pace, especially amongst the major cloud service providers.
The data center construction industry in the US is quite mature, so the time it takes to physically construct a data center may be close to hitting its “speed limit.” That being said, there is a lot that can be done on the front end to make sure a project is set up for success before any shovel hits the ground. Of course, site selection is the first critical step, and making sure you have the power and entitlements needed. Then, choosing the right development partners and bringing them to the table early in an integrated project delivery approach allows you to analyze key decisions quickly and plan ahead.
While some customers require customization and providers need to remain flexible, standard designs that don’t require re-education of the development team also help projects move faster. Finally, supply chain management is important to secure production slots for critical data center components like generators and UPS’s. Developing at scale provides much better inroads with the major equipment suppliers, but as with anything, good relationships can also go a long way.
Data Center Frontier: The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has finally arrived. What have been the most significant issues in the transition for data center providers and their customers? Are we likely to see similar privacy regulation in the U.S., and if so, what are the implications for the data center industry?
Dana Adams: We think it is very unlikely that we will see a GDPR-like law in the US since we don’t have omnibus privacy law in the US. Instead, we have sector specific laws and also federal and state laws that will address some of the GDPR concepts and potentially give consumers more control over their personally identifiable information (PII). Data center providers who do not access customer data need to take certain precautions to comply with GDPR, but are not likely to be significantly impacted by the new laws if they already run a robust security and compliance program.
The key requirements for providers include maintaining a formal information security program that among other controls specific to the service offering, ensures the appointment of a Data Protection Officer, and incorporates incident response management, third-party oversight, periodic risk assessments and relevant training to all users. It also requires the establishment and execution of a Data Processing Agreement between providers, customers and related entities that specify the services in scope and each entity’s responsibilities as they pertain to the business relationship.
Data Center Frontier: All our “Things” are getting smarter and more powerful, bringing the computing power of the cloud into devices in our pockets. As more workloads begin to move to the edge of the network, how will it change how – and where – we deploy infrastructure?
Dana Adams: We are very excited about the edge data center market and have spent a lot of time really trying to understand where this space is headed. While demand for cloud and core data centers will continue to grow, we also see big potential for edge data centers that will be driven by a range of use cases, including content delivery, IoT, virtual reality, AI and the evolution of 5G to name a few.
We also think that modular or containerized solutions will make the most sense as far as providing the infrastructure to support these applications. The edge data center industry is still nascent and there is much more to learn as the uses for edge continue to be developed, but we are excited about the future opportunities that edge computing will create and the value that Iron Mountain can bring to this market.