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 Katie O’Hara of Stream Data Centers and Infrastructure Masons.
Katie O’Hara is Vice President, Business Development at Stream Data Centers and member of the Infrastructure Masons Women’s Technology Outreach Committee. Throughout her career, Katie has helped clients optimize energy efficiency, achieve green initiatives and obtain utility sponsored energy credits. Katie’s significant business development experience in data center and IT environments make her a valuable catalyst for customer and partner success across Stream’s national footprint of data center sales and leasing operations. Since joining Stream in 2017, Katie has focused on expanding the Stream customer base and leveraging new opportunities. Her previous experience included a range of sales and consulting roles at global commercial real estate services firms such as Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and Cushman & Wakefield. Katie is affiliated with the Chicago AFCOM chapter.
Here’s the full text of Katie O’Hara’s insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: What is the current state of data center rack density, and what lies ahead for cooling as more users put artificial intelligence to work in their applications?
Katie O’Hara: We expect AI/machine learning to affect rack density in several ways. For end-users deploying AI applications (which are typically deployed on GPU’s) we expect higher rack densities. As our clients continue to deploy machine learning, we expect to see workload, operating envelope and rack density evolve to adapt to changes in technology (e.g. Direct Liquid Cooling to the rack) or to take advantage of favorable energy costs.
Data Center Frontier: Many industries are experiencing difficulty finding enough skilled workers. What’s the outlook for data center staffing, and what are the key strategies for finding talented staff?
Katie O’Hara: Recruiting and retaining staff members is a huge focus at Stream. We believe that diverse teams make better decisions, and we’ve managed to build a team that is >50% diverse with a 50/50 split between the genders. Committing to only using employees for technical roles vs. outsourcing to third parties also helps us recruit and retain team members who see a real career path as a permanent part of our organization.
Data Center Frontier: How have enterprise data center needs evolved during the pandemic? What do you expect for 2021?
Katie O’Hara: In 2020, most of the enterprise activity was the expansion of existing footprints. In 2021, we’ve seen a major uptick in enterprise clients seeking to deploy in new sites and markets — often with projects that were temporarily put on hold during the height of the pandemic.
Data Center Frontier: Edge computing continues to be a hot topic. How is this sector evolving, and what use cases and applications are gaining the most traction with customers?
Katie O’Hara: With edge computing continuing to gain momentum, we’ve seen clients continue to split their load between carrier hotels and suburban locations by placing the larger compute footprint in more resilient facilities with better economies of scale. We’ve also seen interest in leveraging our parent company’s multi-million square foot office and industrial portfolio to quickly deploy smaller edge footprints across the U.S.