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 Juan Font of CoreSite.
Juan Font is the Senior VicePresident, General Management at CoreSite. Juan joined CoreSite in 2010 and is responsible for improving the development and operations strategy of CoreSite’s growing data center portfolio, and helping to improve revenue growth.
Here’s the full text of Juan Font’s insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: More providers are targeting the hyperscale computing market, and more customers appear to be “graduating” to super-sized requirements. How is this market changing, and what are the keys to success in serving the hyperscale sector in 2020 and beyond?
Juan Font: Over the last couple of decades, we have seen the evolution towards larger and higher density requirements. That was the main driver for our strategy evolution from just owning and operating carrier hotels into developing large-scale campuses tethered with high-count fiber to our interconnection hubs. This concept was first executed with LA2 in Los Angeles (which is tethered to LA1/One Wilshire), and now you can see it throughout our portfolio with multi-data center campuses in places like Chicago, Santa Clara or Virginia.
Hyperscale, however, is a more recent phenomenon driven primarily by the massive infrastructure required to build Cloud Service Provider (CSP) availability zones, as well as the exponential growth of the digital economy as manifested by social media, SaaS providers and gaming applications, for example. This has significantly altered the landscape in markets like Northern Virginia, which has recorded unprecedented levels of absorption and the corresponding construction to satisfy demand.
With significant ground-up development over the last couple of years, CoreSite is well positioned with vast amounts of contiguous available and developable capacity in nearly all of our markets. Our focus on hyperscale opportunities are those that would benefit from superior performance, latency or edge proximity characteristics.
Data Center Frontier: Artificial intelligence is bringing more powerful chips into the data center. What’s your take on the present and future of rack density, and how it may influence data center equipment and design?
Juan Font: Just like how customer deployments are growing, they are also increasingly becoming more power-dense. Artificial intelligence, machine learning or GUI-hungry gaming applications, to name a few, are use cases requiring high-performance compute, which we see increasingly placed at the edge. Such is the case with autonomous vehicle platforms or 5G applications requiring ultra-low latency.
Our strategy continues to be to support the widest array of use cases and power densities for applications that would benefit from a rich ecosystem of natively deployed fiber networks and cloud on-ramps in close proximity to large population centers. That said, in a multi-tenant data center environment – which is CoreSite’s predominant model – the key is to build enough flexibility in your design to be able to support high-performance computing or even liquid-cooled environments – but not at the expense of overbuilding your facility.
Data center design is impacted principally three ways: you have to augment cooling, increase the weight bearing of the floor space, as the racks are also heavier, and add more power distribution, as most of the new high-power density equipment also require large breaker sizes and 3-phase power.
Data Center Frontier: What do you see as the most important trends in data center connectivity and interconnection, and how have they been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Juan Font: We are seeing interconnection become an even more important decision-factor for deployments – especially within the enterprise segment. The enterprise IT decision makers are coming to us with more knowledge about how to utilize colocation within a holistic IT strategy.
I think COVID-19 is going to force enterprises to shift focus away from on-premises data centers. Data center managers are realizing that colocation providers can do a better job at maintaining a mission-critical space, especially during unprecedented circumstances. And this will open up resources for more activities that focus on the enterprise’s core function.
Data Center Frontier: The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting companies to pursue automation to limit health risks. What are the most promising innovations the data center industry can adopt to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic?
Juan Font: Access to data centers as much as any other workplace environment has been severely impacted by COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, we saw a dramatic reduction in customer visits to our own data centers. Thankfully, CoreSite had been investing for a long time in building robust, lights-out capabilities. This is principally enabled by our 24×7 remote hands capability, having our own Data Center Operations teams staffing the sites 24×7 (including throughout the pandemic), as well as by the enhancement to the MyCoreSite Customer Portal over the years.
For example, aside from being able to interact with CoreSite for any sort of requirement, like adding power, shipping and receiving, etc., customers can also use the portal’s Data Center Intelligence features to check real-time environmental data, such as power usage, temperature and relative humidity at the rack level or security access logs into the customer space. The advent of the pandemic has really brought to the forefront how important it is to our customers that CoreSite becomes a true extension of their operations, and we’re very proud of being able to deliver on that front.