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 Dave Young, Senior Vice President of Operations of DartPoints.
Here’s the full text of Dave Young's insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: Recent earnings reports suggest the growth rate of cloud computing has moderated slightly. What’s your take on the progress of cloud computing – the “what inning are we in” question – and what lies ahead?
Dave Young, DartPoints: Cloud computing has experienced significant growth over the past decade, transforming how businesses operate and deliver services. However, it's safe to say that we are still in the early to mid-stages of its adoption, so let's say we're somewhere around the 4th inning.
Many organizations have migrated some of their operations to the cloud, but many businesses still need to embrace cloud technologies fully. Data security concerns, lack of expertise, cost, legacy system challenges, and regulatory considerations have slowed the adoption for specific industries and organizations. However, the adoption rate will continue to increase as cloud providers enhance their offerings, increasing managed and "white glove" services and specifically tailored solutions to address these concerns.
Looking ahead, we anticipate cloud computing to continue growing. The pace may fluctuate compared to initial adoption rates, but growth, nonetheless.
Shifts in the market, changes in the workplace, economic challenges, and staffing concerns will all be significant drivers. Additionally, emerging edge and serverless computing technologies will further drive innovation and adoption in the cloud space.
Consumers are increasingly looking for providers that enhance their services with robust security offerings, business continuity, and disaster recovery planning, and affordable alternatives to expertise and staffing shortcomings.
As weather and climate conditions become more unpredictable and costly, IT leaders increasingly turn to geo-diverse cloud solutions and providers that can offer continuous services with redundant failover capabilities.
The future is bright for cloud technologies, and there are still more innings. DartPoints is ready to help organizations get in the game and prepare for what's to come.
Data Center Frontier: How would you assess the state of the data center supply chain? What items continue to experience long lead times or availability problems?
Dave Young, DartPoints: The state of the data center supply chain remains challenging. Some elements show improvement and stabilization; however, lead times remain longer than traditionally expected. The supply chain challenges caused DartPoints to shift away from the JIT (just-in-time) mindset. Our talented team of managers has a forward-thinking mindset and has positioned our organization to manage our growth model to meet our clients’ needs. We identify the current market conditions and factor the supply chain delays in our strategic investments. Inventory management and strategic investment will continue to play an essential role in 2023, as we are not anticipating significant improvements.
We continue to see longer lead times and availability problems for large power distribution equipment and switchgear, including utility transformers. One of our partner electrical contractors commented that the industry is experiencing lead times of over one year across the board. Other power distribution and cooling infrastructure items remain challenging, where lead times are three to four months longer than traditional expectations. Critical power systems, such as generators and UPS, have stabilized with reasonable lead time expectations.
Our Infrastructure team has reported stabilization in the market with some improvement in lead times. To minimize the ongoing supply chain impact, DartPoints maintains an agile vendor network where we partner with our vendors to manage and mitigate risk. Our partnerships allow us to reduce and overcome the current supply chain challenges strategically and creatively.
Data Center Frontier: Data centers have always been highly-automated facilities. What are the most promising opportunities in automation and data center management? Can AI, augmented reality, and robots play a meaningful role?
Dave Young, DartPoints: Automation in data center management has been a significant trend with promising industry opportunities. Facilities infrastructure has benefited from developing IoT devices capable of providing large amounts of telemetry data that aid facility management. These data sets, coupled with AI, will shift the operations from a reactionary approach to predictive management that uses automated elements to optimize performance. Additionally, data analytics will provide valuable information on performance, capacity, and usage patterns that drive proactive decision-making for DartPoints using automated features.
AI, augmented reality, and robots will play a role in enabling data centers to become more efficient and effective. The compilation of these technologies will have a profound impact on the industry. AI will allow data center operators to leverage information that supports maintenance activities, optimization, capacity planning, network management, security and threat detection, and infrastructure management. AR will provide real-time information for remote-hands, visualizations, training, and support activities. Robots will quickly become prevalent in physical security; however, they will quickly adopt AR roles, such as physical rounds, environmental monitoring, and remote operations. These developing technologies will change the industry and influence how data center operators manage their environments.
Data Center Frontier: The industry has stepped up its efforts to attract and retain talent, but staffing remains a huge challenge. What’s working well, and what more can be done to build a diverse workforce of the future.
Dave Young, DartPoints: To attract and retain top talent, we asked our employees what they valued most, and their answer was work-life balance, quality benefits, and investment in their career and personal growth.
We responded to their feedback by allowing for a flexible work environment where employees can work remotely, creating a better work-life balance. In addition, we have created more robust benefits and increased healthcare options. DartPoints reimburses for certifications and career training to ensure our employees are continually growing professionally.
Open communication is also crucial to ensuring our employees feel part of the organization, so we have regular meetings and email communications around company goals and performance. We even went a step further and developed a mission statement about the values of our employees, created by a team comprised of all levels and all departments within the company.
Finally, when attracting and retaining new talent, it is vital to pay the industry rate and keep it equitable for prospective and existing talent.