The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable for the fourth quarter of 2018 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: What is the one trend you believe will be most significant in shaping the data center industry in 2019, and why?
Rick Crutchley: Data center modernization. To meet end-user demand that is intolerant of anything less than digital perfection, new applications will produce heavier workloads than ever in 2019. The resulting data set must be transferred over an increasingly complex network of in-house, multi-cloud and other outsourced IT resources. This creates material risks associated with performance, security and information governance that will manifest in the form of data center modernization – upgrades to existing facilities and/or the increased selection of colocation as the preferred data center solution.
Data Center Frontier: As the data center industry continues to grow, finding and developing staff is a challenge. What are the key steps to ensuring quality staffing into the future? What’s the appropriate role of automation (and even AI) in scaling?
Rick Crutchley: At Iron Mountain we are investing in Women in IT and STEM programs across our markets to address this very challenge. In some US markets, IT unemployment is less than one percent. It is critical that we rebrand IT as a career path for high school and younger students, so that more of today’s brightest minds – male and female – are motivated to consider an alternative to what has been branded as superior options. The industry needs to work more with universities as well to create a clear path to data center careers. We have found excellent candidates from the US military. More can be done to develop post-service career paths in this segment.
As for AI and automation, there is definitely opportunity there, but also risk. Agile colocation resource allocation to customers as they approach their critical limit would allow for seamless growth, reduced downtime and maximum efficiency. It could also help seasonal customers not on usage-based power pricing models spike up for temporary needs and then return back down to normal operating conditions.
However, it could also strain the relationship between colocation provider and customer in the event there are billing disputes caused by the automated increase. As we have seen with public cloud consumption, elasticity can be a budget breaker without the right guard rails in place. Less experienced providers could also run into potential breaker trips / outages with automated power draws spiking past available capacity.
Data Center Frontier: Data center geography continues to be a hot topic. What markets will be strongest in 2019, and why? What are the up-and-coming markets that may make headlines in 2019?
Rick Crutchley: In the US markets, the Phoenix Metro Area has quite a bit of supply ready to hit the market. As a result, I anticipate seeing more than a few headlines on Arizona transactions. As always, the Northern Virginia market is poised for sustained growth with numerous construction projects planned or underway. Other usual suspects like Chicago, Dallas and Northern California as well as the Pacific Northwest will continue to be hot markets.
International I would expect strong investment in the FLAP markets (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris) as well as Marseille and the Nordics.
Data Center Frontier: Security remains a priority for customers. How are security issues being considered in the data center design and product offerings for service providers? Will this change in 2019?
Rick Crutchley: One of the realities of the digital universe it that security and data integrity are issues for everyone, regardless of organizational size, industry, or geography. It is particularly important to public sector customers and those from regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare. As we continue to develop our presence in the data center industry, Iron Mountain views its decades long reputation for security, integrity and reliability as one of our most important differentiators. We’re not just a data center colo company, we’re a globally trusted information management company.
“One of the realities of the digital universe it that security and data integrity are issues for everyone, regardless of organizational size, industry, or geography.”
Rick Crutchley, Iron Mountain
We design our data center facilities with the understanding that our customers expect their information to be both physically and virtually safeguarded from the millisecond that it comes into our environment, and reliably available when they need it. We utilize a “Defense in Depth” approach to both our physical and cyber security. And while we don’t publicly share specifics about our policies and technology, suffice it to say that we are in full compliance with the most rigorous security-related compliance frameworks published by organizations such as ISO and NIST.
As for changes in 2019, The convergence of physical and virtual security are constantly evolving. Threats from diverse sources including insiders, hacktivists, state sponsored actors and organized crime will continue to challenge physical and cyber security experts. The amount and commercial criticality of data being gathered and stored will also continue to grow. Increasingly, customers are realizing that they do not have the infrastructure, internal expertise or resources to keep pace with the changes. Our goal is to be a trusted solution partner in helping them to address their data challenges.