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: Several hyperscale operators have indicated they expect to boost capital investment in digital infrastructure in coming years. What’s the outlook for hyperscale computing in 2021, and what will this mean for data center developers and service providers?
Rick Crutchley: We had explosive demand in the fourth quarter of 2021. That will continue in 2022 due to massive online consumerism in the form of streaming, gaming, ecommerce and remote working.
The challenge for all service providers will be keeping up with that demand and delivering capacity when and where the end users need it. Data centers need to collaborate even more with their customers to meet demand. We’ll see more investment based on continued demand that drives enhancement on platforms, apps and emerging technologies. Planning ahead with construction and location/site selection is key.
Competition is robust in the data center space, which is keeping pricing fairly level. We continue to face pandemic-related challenges, from rising construction costs to inflation and supply chain issues, which will impact construction cost per megawatt. While the pandemic continues to cause economic uncertainty, our end users seem positive and upbeat about the future. They seem more willing to invest in technology than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
Data Center Frontier: Enterprise IT spending appears to be rebounding after subdued spending in 2020. What are the most important trends you’re seeing in enterprise demand, and how might they impact the data center business in 2022?
Rick Crutchley: Some enterprises are still in digital transformation and continue to make great strides in moving their data from analog to digital. Many are leveraging technologies from AI to machine learning as they continue to evolve to meet the needs of the end user. As 5G continues to strengthen and have availability, enterprises are working to get their data to the end user in the most effective and cost-effective way.
For data center providers, these trends will continue to drive demand. There will be a continued focus on edge. Edge and where that edge sits will be a key driver combined with the core data center and the cloud.
Data Center Frontier: Cooling is a hot topic, as data center operators seek to balance growing use of AI hardware with commitments on sustainability and water use. What do you expect will be the key themes in data center cooling in the next several years?
Rick Crutchley: When we talk about cooling, it all comes down to efficiency. There’s a great opportunity to improve performance of existing sites, as well as new data centers. The trend will be to accept higher electrical use in exchange for less water use. The tools and the solutions are improving. That includes AI and controls that integrate weather data, for instance.
In addition, you’ve got desktop analytics and tools to optimize the data halls, layouts and airflow. There are now engineering models that can identify optimal upgrades, so you have an efficient implementation and the best implementation for your dollar. You’ll see water treatment systems to minimize and conserve water.
There is also the opportunity to retrofit or upgrade aging data centers. We’re seeing some interesting partners that are looking at ways to help providers improve their aging sites and are offering financial paybacks for making upgrades and improvements.
Data Center Frontier: What might increased adoption of “metaverse” virtual worlds mean for digital infrastructure and the data center industry?
Rick Crutchley: This really comes down to the experience of the end user. It’s no different than when we’re talking about streaming or gaming. It’s about having content distribution network and connectivity options available in conjunction with edge data centers so you can improve the experience.
For infrastructure and data centers, the content distribution networks and connectivity options and ecosystem play a critical role as data needs to be served to the end user with low latency connections.