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 Maricel Cerruti of Teladata and Infrastructure Masons.
Maricel Cerruti is Principal and Director at Teladata, with more than 15 years experience in the technology, data center, and construction industries. Maricel is a Founding Board member of Infrastructure Masons, and has held leadership positions in numerous industry organizations including AFCOM and 7X24 Northern California Chapters. She is a co-founder of Geeks Giving Back and Teladata’s Technology Convergence Conference. Maricel received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from San Jose State University. In her spare time, she enjoys giving back to her community through volunteer efforts and spending quality time with her daughter, husband, and dog.
Here’s the full text of Maricel Cerruti’s insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: The COVID-19 pandemic has defined much of 2020. As we enter 2021, what pandemic-related changes are likely to have lasting impact for the data center industry, and why?
Maricel Cerruti: The good news for the data center industry is that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the spotlight the importance of technology in allowing businesses to continue to function in a digital world. As a result, the demand for data center capacity and migration to the cloud will only continue to grow at a tremendous rate.
This is placing an increased pressure in the data center industry to meet client contract commitments while dealing with limited people resources, supply chain disruptions, operations, and construction challenges due to pandemic restrictions. That is why as we enter 2021, there will continue to be a major focus on disaster recovery, business continuity, and attracting/retaining talent to keep up with exponential growth in this industry.
The pandemic forced many data center operators to re-examine their existing procedures, processes, supply chains, and local resources to improve readiness and operations. Like other business sectors, the data center industry will continue to re-evaluate their existing supply chain models to better understand the deeper layers in their eco system that can potentially create critical bottlenecks, improve real-time visibility, and diversify partners so they are not dependent on raw materials and products sourced from one single geographic location.
In the long term, technology leaders will continue to invest in more automation, monitoring, and tools to allow for more remote management and to enable data centers to be resilient in an unpredictable new environment.
It is also undeniable there is a talent deficit in this industry and the need to attract and retain qualified people are critical to keep up with demand and growth. Fortunately, there are non-profit organizations such as Infrastructure Masons (IM), helping to bring awareness to this industry and committed to leveraging and developing under-utilized sources of talent- women, veterans, millennials, and other underrepresented minority groups in the global digital infrastructure industry.
Data Center Frontier: Gartner says many enterprise customers are holding off on major IT spending during the pandemic. Will that continue in 2021? Or will the “digital shift” from COVID-19 prompt enterprises to invest in retooling their infrastructure?
Maricel Cerruti: COVID-19 highlighted the importance of digital readiness and the ability for businesses to react, recover, and adapt swiftly. Although IT spend will vary across different industries, businesses will need to invest in technologies that will allow agility to continue to function in a digital world.
With the uncertainty of the future and as companies shift to allow more remote work, IT spend will be prioritized to continue to support this effort such as such communication and collaboration tools. Other investments include security, privacy, data protection, risk management tools, disaster recovery solutions, and infrastructure /cloud solutions.
Data Center Frontier: Hyperscale customers are more focused than ever on sustainability and climate change. Will this renewed focus drive meaningful change in the data center industry? If so, what might that look like?
Maricel Cerruti: I believe this renewed focus will bring a major change in the data center industry. In 2020, Infrastructure Masons held a summit that brought together digital infrastructure leaders from large hyperscale firms around the world, and Dean Nelson, Founder and Chairman, introduced IM’s new sustainability vision, “Every Click Improves the Future.” This vision encompasses four core values:
- Reduce emissions, starting with life-cycle carbon emissions.
- Eliminate waste, including energy, heat, water, unused capacity, unneeded redundancy, etc. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
- Be people positive, increase the quality of life in the communities where we locate.
- Compound our impact. Individuals and companies can do more working together.
Firms such as Google, Microsoft, and other large hyperscale firms in the community discussed five initiatives in achieving this vision.
- Unify the Industry
- Make Renewable Energy Available Everywhere
- Define a Sustainable Data Center Framework
- Drive Sustainability through Procurement
- Achieve Radical Efficiency through Innovation
As these are long term goals, I foresee the community will continue to invest in these initiatives in 2021 and beyond.
Data Center Frontier: What will we be surprised by in 2021? What are the trends you’re following that will make an outsized impact?
Maricel Cerruti: The journey in 2021 will continue to be a recovery but also a transformation phase for many businesses. I think we will continue to see an acceleration in digital adoption and growth trend in response to changes in customer behavior, communication, and experiences. Businesses will continue to invest in digital solutions such as cloud, automation, IoT, big data, and AI to improve operations and increase resiliency.
Many organizations were forced into remote work this year and there are questions about whether remote work will last. Although I think organizations will incorporate a hybrid model, I also think remote work will be a much bigger piece of business strategy for many firms. Companies are seeing the benefits of operating in a virtual world and are providing more opportunities to marginalized number of groups.
Remote work allows for more access to wider pool of talent that offers diverse skillsets, backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. It also eliminates workplace accessibility challenges for people with disabilities. Working remotely, combined with a more flexible work schedule, is also attractive to many new parents or women who may be struggling with child or family care responsibilities. Additionally, it highlights productivity and effectiveness and moves away from biases that sometimes cloud the judgement of individuals in an organization, leveling the playing field for all employees.