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 Steve Dick of Emcor Enclosures.
Steve Dick is the VP & General Manager of Emcor Enclosures since 2014. Leading a team of more than 100 engineers, salespeople, and manufacturing team members, Steve is driving growth for this storied manufacturer of electronics enclosures and datacenter cabinets, cage, and containment systems for applications in the aerospace and defense, healthcare, hospitality, retail, and other commercial sectors. Before joining Emcor, Steve led U.S. marketing and business development for Nilfisk Advance. Previously he was VP of Strategy & Marketing at Pentair. Steve began his career at Honeywell, where he held production, marketing, and national sales roles. Steve Dick studied business at University of Florida, earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and economics from the University of Minnesota, and achieved an MBA in Marketing from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
Data Center Frontier: Our industry is all about the data. But how good are our metrics? What are the strengths and opportunities in how the data center industry can measure and manage effectiveness? What’s going well and what’s missing?
Steve Dick: Data center metrics used to be relatively straightforward. Key metrics like PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness), CCF (Cooling Capacity Factor), Server power efficiency, and ASHRAE temperature and humidity standards dominated in the early years. Datacenter Infrastructure Management (DCIM) has since added real-time capacity by resource, energy cost, rack/aisle/floorspace capacity, peak load per rack/cabinet, hot spot identification and duration, power resiliency, physical security, building infrastructure status, and others.
As cloud computing has become commonplace, a new discipline of Hybrid Digital Infrastructure Management (HDIM) has emerged, focusing on workload placement, talent management, geodiversity, and business-relevant insights leveraging big data and artificial intelligence. As more businesses and industries invest in digital business processes, the role of IT is challenged with the assembly and operation of digital infrastructure based on business need, an ecosystem of diverse edge/cloud/traditional computing providers, and a new IT talent mindset focused on agility and flexibility. Today’s datacenter management and metrics need to be focused on the quality of customer experience, automating the provisioning and configuration of resources, and analyzing the performance of those resources — wherever they are.
Data Center Frontier: Data center tours and conferences are two key elements of doing business in this sector. What’s your sense of when these in-person activities can resume, and how they might be different?
Steve Dick: Our business has successfully managed through the pandemic together with our customers, partners, and suppliers for over a year now. While the lessons have been many, business is all about people connecting with people face-to-face. We can never let fear take away from improvement, opportunity, and collaboration. The datacenter industry is an essential workforce and often part of the Defense Industrial Base. We are looking forward to Phase 1C of vaccination so tours and conferences can resume in the datacenter sector. States like Texas and Florida are showing the nation large events can be conducted safely. We anticipate business travel resuming along with conferences and site visits in Q3 2021 in preparation for a strong finish for the year in Q4 2021.
Conferences will be different as we will all have a testing or vaccination story to share. The host venues will be more diligent about cleaning and disinfection. Hopefully, face covering restrictions will have eased where we can see everyone smiling again. Fist bumps and elbow greetings will be more prevalent than traditional handshakes and hugs. What will not have changed for the data center sector is the desire and optimism to learn, explore, and advance by gathering together once again.
Data Center Frontier: What are the top challenges in securing data center environments, and how do we address them in edge computing scenarios?
Steve Dick: It has been fascinating to watch the mindset for data center security evolve from physical and digital barriers, to observational recording of everything, to the latest zero trust approaches where everything needs to be explicitly and individually allowed. Traditional digital rules and locks can inevitably be overcome. The defense industry and datacenters have evolved in lockstep to arrive at the latest mindset where you observe and record everything, allow nothing until you permit something, and leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and mitigate abnormal behaviors.
Emcor is directly involved in the physical security of datacenters and colocation facilities. Our customers have found the value of leveraging our unique ability to customize and adapt our metal cage, rack/cabinet enclosures, and aisle containment systems to already-built facilities undergoing expansion or renovation, not just new facilities. Height, depth, width, PDUs, cooling, mounting, cable routing, and front/side/rear access points can all be adjusted without having to delay your deployment schedule. Key, combo, and biometric locks are available for all enclosures, cabinets, and cages.
Data center colocation and interconnect providers are optimizing floorspace footprint of datacenter cages and racks while ensuring cold-aisle/hot-aisle containment as the foundation to design, build and operate high-density computing environments at hyperscale.