Rhea Williams is a principal site selector at Oracle. She came to the data center industry from the finance and real estate space. She worked for a small brokerage until she moved to Digital Realty, where she spent three years as a Director on the Global Sales team. After DLR, Rhea moved to NTT and managed the West Coast Enterprise group. She has spent the last few years a VP of Cloud Solutions at Compass, where she focused on single tenant hyperscale facilities. Oracle was a client at both DLR and Compass and it was a natural transition to work with their Site Selection team. Rhea now runs OCI’s global renewal program and focus’ on EMEA regional growth.
Here’s the full text of Rhea Williams’ insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: We’ve seen extraordinary demand for data center space thus far in 2022. What is driving the elevated demand for data center capacity?
Rhea Williams: The competition between CSPs (cloud service providers) and the scarcity of power is driving users to look past the current fiscal year and into the next 60 months or beyond to ensure capacity. The mass movement of the enterprise to the cloud will continue.
I don’t see this as temporary. Our demand signal has grown exponentially and has no sign of slowing.
Data Center Frontier: Water scarcity has become a major concern in some data center markets. What are the best strategies to help reduce the impact of IT infrastructure on local water supplies?
Rhea Williams: Walking away from utilizing water as the predominant source of cooling is imminent. We are already seeing suppliers looking to alternatives to traditional water cooling. I don’t know if that’s air, liquid or another upcoming technology. As an industry we have to drive less water utilization to give relief to the local water supplies but mostly for sustainability reasons. We talk a lot about power constraints, but I believe water will be next big global issue.
Data Center Frontier: What’s the outlook for data center growth in regional “second tier” markets?
Rhea Williams: The constraints in major regions will continue to drive demand in “second tier” markets. The higher utilization of personal and household devices pushing greater data consumption and creation will drive the need for more coverage from a latency standpoint. Whether you call it “Second Tier” or the “Edge,” everything points to growth.
Data Center Frontier: A number of regions are facing limits on utility power availability for large users. What are the best options for data centers to operate and grow in power-constrained markets?
Rhea Williams: I don’t think we have the option to solely grow in those regions. We will consume everything that is available over the next 12-18 months, and then we will have to explore alternatives. Second-tier markets and brand new regions will have to be developed.
Additionally, as an industry we have to re-evaluate how we not only consume, but produce power. This is an opportunity for us to be on the forefront of innovation when it comes to electricity and power generation. We will have to walk away from the grid in these markets, become more sustainable, and give back to the local communities.