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 Randy Rowland of Cyxtera.
Randy Rowland leads Cyxtera’s global data center services business, and is responsible for all aspects including strategy, business management, operations, product development and evangelism. Since February 2013, Rowland has served as a Partner of Medina Capital, identifying companies with disruptive technologies and providing the portfolio with guidance on strategic initiatives. From December 2011 to February 2013, Rowland served as Senior Director of Cloud Platform Services at VMware where he led key initiatives to evolve VMware’s “as a Service” strategy focused primarily on Cloud Foundry and vCloud Services. From 2007 through August 2011, Rowland was a Senior Vice President of Product Development of Terremark, guiding the company into the emerging cloud computing industry by leading the development and launch of Terremark’s Enterprise Cloud service offering. From August 1999 until the time it was acquired by Terremark in 2007, Mr. Rowland was responsible for Product Development and Sales Engineering at Data Return. Rowland received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Distribution from Texas A&M University.
Here’s the full text of Randy Rowland’s insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: After a year of blockbuster leasing in 2018, the large hyperscalers appear to be less active in procuring new capacity in the first half of 2019. What does the prognosis for hyperscale deals look like in the short and long term? Are these requirements changing in size or structure?
Randy Rowland: As an enterprise retail colocation provider, Cyxtera is not in the hyperscale or wholesale business so we’re not able to speak to the prognosis for hyperscale deals. We are seeing a trend in which hyperscalers are building out larger volume capacity sites. Enterprise customers and large systems integrators need to factor in the added cost of the build out and management of power, cooling, and operations if they’re seriously considering hyperscalers as a potential retail colocation alternative.
We’re also seeing that the presence of a hyperscaler in a metro region drives enterprise retail colocation demand in that same market. In fact, we partner with many of the hyperscalers to address this enterprise demand. Our customers are mid-to-large enterprises, more than half of which operate in multiple locations, many on a global scale. They operate hybrid IT environments in our data centers that need low-latency on-ramps to their cloud provider of choice.
We continue to strategically invest in and grow our global footprint in response to customer demand in these markets, with turnkey sites offering a diverse range of interconnection options to cloud providers. This is evidenced by our recently announced expansions in eight key markets across North America and Europe, including new data center openings in Phoenix and Frankfurt and expanded capacity in New York Metro, Silicon Valley and London.
Data Center Frontier: Edge computing is a trend with many layers and flavors. What types of edge computing are most relevant in 2019? What opportunities does the evolution of edge computing create for future data center infrastructure (and when)?
Randy Rowland: We’re seeing a heightened focus on enterprise edge computing amongst our customer base. Essentially clients are moving their compute environments closer to their end users with smaller, more distributed deployments. This evolution creates great opportunity for data center providers. But it also underscores the importance of global scale, flexibility, and interconnection.
For most mid-to-large enterprises, it’s not enough for a data center provider to be in just one or two markets. A global footprint with a consistently high caliber of operations expertise is table stakes for enterprise customers that want to deploy edge data centers in multiple markets. Enterprises should look for providers that can offer a single service agreement for multiple locations yet give them the flexibility to move capacity between markets without penalty.
“For most mid-to-large enterprises, it’s not enough for a data center provider to be in just one or two markets”
Randy Rowland, Cyxtera
Time to provision interconnection and dedicated infrastructure impedes edge computing adoption. Enterprises should look to data center providers that not only offer diverse, low-latency on-ramps to cloud providers and cloud edge POPs, as previously discussed. They need to seamlessly link their data center to the ecosystem of service providers in a metro region.
Data Center Frontier: The shift of enterprise IT workloads into third-party cloud platforms and colo facilities appears to be continuing. What strategies and services are proving most useful in working with enterprises in this transition?
Randy Rowland: While IT workload migration continues in full force, many of our enterprise customers are reevaluating their decision to move certain workloads from their on-premise data center to the cloud. As the high cost to operate steady-state workloads in the cloud has proven out, many workloads are not built for a cloud-first strategy. Other workloads can’t move to the cloud for reasons of security and control. Yet the pressure on IT organizations to quickly and cost-effectively stand up new infrastructure has never been greater.
Enterprises, service providers and systems integrators looking to ease the transition to hybrid IT should look for data center providers that offer an on-demand approach to interconnection and dedicated infrastructure, such as that which Cyxtera has pioneered with our CXD platform. Our customers leverage CXD as their cloud-first alternative for workloads that need the speed and agility of cloud combined with the control and compliance of colocation.
First and foremost, on-demand colocation streamlines how organizations interconnect and expand their existing colocation and cloud environments. 451 Research refers to this as “software-programmable interconnection”: the ability to provision and consume cross-connects, IP transit, and metro networks in near real time. Network security compliance can be vetted at the platform level, which adds to the agility and ease with which additional workloads can migrate into colocation.
Our customers are seeing 25-50% lower total cost of ownership when they provision dedicated infrastructure in a consumption-based model, rather than traditional design to peak over a 3 to 5-year capacity plan. On-demand provisioning also helps minimize the impact of tech refreshes as enterprises can leverage the latest hyper-converged and bare metal infrastructure available when and where they need it.
AI is rapidly becoming one of the biggest drivers for colocation deployments.
Randy Rowland, Cyxtera
Data Center Frontier: The rise of AI has boosted the use of new compute hardware to accelerate specific tasks, including GPUs, FPGAs, ASICs, TPUs and neural processing hardware as well as more powerful CPUs. How might the emergence of application-specific hardware impact data center design? What are the opportunities and challenges?
Randy Rowland: AI applications are skyrocketing, from navigation and autonomous cars to personalized digital assistants and risk analytics. One thing all AI applications have in common is their demand for exponentially more computational power and data storage. These high-performance compute resources require specialized power and cooling, making it impractical and costly for enterprises to build and maintain them in their own on-premise data centers. As a result, AI is rapidly becoming one of the biggest drivers for colocation deployments.
Enterprises turning to colocation should look for providers that have been certified to be AI-ready. For example, Cyxtera has partnered with NVIDIA to ensure customers that our data centers meet their unique power, cooling, raised floor and implementation requirements. Physical environment certification alone isn’t enough. In addition to giving enterprises access to the data center resources they need to quickly take advantage of AI, we’re also partnering with service provider partners who can help our customers plan, configure, deploy and operate this specialized environment and avoid many of the challenges that can delay implementation.