The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable for the second quarter of 2019 features insights from industry executives with lengthy experience in the data center industry. Here’s a look at the insights from Rick Crutchley of Iron Mountain.
Rick Crutchley serves as Iron Mountain’s vice president and general manager of North America and is responsible for providing global leadership to Iron Mountain’s operations and sales organizations, and directs all aspects of those organizations’ operational policies, objectives, and initiatives. He is an 18-year data center industry veteran, focused on building global sales teams, optimizing the customer experience, and attaining annual sales and revenue targets. Crutchley previously served as the chief operating officer for IO Data Centers, vice president of Global Sales for Core Link Datacenters, and the chief operating officer for Cyber Trails, a national provider of IT services. He was also the general manager and director of Western Operations for Inflow, which was acquired by SunGard in 2005.
Here’s the full text of Rick Crutchley’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?
Rick Crutchley: We’re still seeing steady demand. Hyperscalers continue to get aggressive on pricing with numerous suitors willing to play, driving historic lows for $/kw. Sustainability is a focus of most hyperscale deals, as these organizations continue to use their buying power to create data center scenarios that are good for the business, customers, and the environment. Design requirements/preferences continue to be unique to the individual hyperscale company in question, offering a build challenge for colocation providers, as designing to one hyperscale prospect can potentially eliminate them from consideration for other opportunities – or add significant costs in order to adjust. Size range: 5 MW to 40 MW.
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)?
Rick Crutchley: Today’s edge is still focused on localizing specific business applications / content within colocation facilities in less populated cities to maximize performance for specific end users – or for disaster recovery. The size of the colo need depends on the size of the customer / end-user base. SDN (software-defined networking) continues to make edge data centers in less populated cities a viable option, offering colocation customers integration and connectivity to necessary cloud providers. Additionally, with on-ramps like Direct Connect and ExpressRoute proliferating and the commoditized cost of fiber, end users have multiple choices and negotiating power to make the most out of their edge deployments.
Moving forward, innovations like Amazon Web Services’ Outpost, Snowball and Snowmobile will bring true edge computing closer to mass-market implementation. Future solutions featuring data center containers deployed in remote, global locations such as telecom towers are being seriously contemplated and tested. With widespread 5G technology around the corner, smart cities, and game-changing network-based offerings nearing completion (self-driving cars, etc.), edge computing is knocking on the door. We are still in the early stages and a couple years out still for true edge adoption, but the momentum is starting to build.
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?
Rick Crutchley: Migrations services capabilities are proving to be useful in working with enterprises in this transition. Regardless of size, migration can be painful for organizations, especially in the case of moving a legacy/enterprise application or infrastructure from one place to another. Requested capabilities range from the transport of hardware to a 360-degree migration solution that includes application exploration and preparation, along with dependency mapping and other consulting services.
Providing multiple options for customers to connect and integrate with their cloud environments is essential, as hybrid IT is a top concern for today’s enterprise. Colocation providers offer SDN/cloud exchanges, on-ramps, and traditional carrier-based connectivity to hyperscale clouds as well as other niche cloud offerings.
Compliance support is another critical component depending on the type of customer. At Iron Mountain, we offer an industry-leading compliance program where we assist customers in preparing for audits and risk mitigation. For public sector organizations, financials, healthcare, the Fortune 500, and numerous others, enterprise applications are laden with PII, PHI, financial data and other protected data sets that must be stored and transferred according to regulations.
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?
Rick Crutchley: The more powerful the hardware and the more components per chassis, the higher the power density. This affects data center design from a power distribution and cooling standpoint, as traditional solutions are not sufficient when it comes to protecting real high-performance computing. These customers also tend to use every drop of power allocated to their environments.
To be able to address these new requirements, colo providers must develop an agile design methodology that allows for efficient and cost-effective changes to the base design as well as the implementation of custom cooling solutions for a single customer.