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Michael Siteman, EVP - Data Center Solutions, JONES LANG LASALLE, INC.

IMN Data Center Conference 11/9 – 11/10/2011
Wednesday, November 30 2011 | 09:34 AM
Michael Siteman
EVP - Data Center Solutions, JONES LANG LASALLE, INC.

Yesterday and today, I attended the second annual conference put on by the Information Management Network related to Data Centers, Real Estate and Investing. The event was quite well attended and draws a very interesting cross-section of professionals from the investment community, colocation providers, enterprise users, real estate developers, wholesale data center operators and others.

The opening remarks were given by Jeffrey Moerdler, Esq of Mintz Levin (www.mintz.com), who provided perspective on where the data center industry has been, the evolution of technology and what is driving the continued changing landscape in the data center environment.

Chris Crosby, formerly of Digital Realty and now leading his new firm, Compass Data Centers (www.compassdatacenters.com), presented on the various data center models in an era of convergence, how the lines between the models are blurring, how profitability and capital expense vary from model-to-model and trending that is leading many to believe that over the next 24 months there will continue to be a significant reduction of traditional IT being hosted in-house leading to more outsourcing and migration to cloud-applications.

The Presidents Panel moderated by Marty Friedman of DH Capital (www.dhcapital.com) included Todd Aaron of Sentinel Data Centers (www.sentinel datacenters.com), Avner Papouchado of Server Farm Realty, Inc. (www.serverfarmrealty.com), Pete Marin of T5-Mission Critical Facilities (www.t5-mcf.com), Jim Trout of Vantage Data Centers (www.vantagedatacenters.com) and Tony Wanger of i/o (www.io.com). Each of the CEOs had interesting comments from different perspectives. Mr. Wanger noted that the data center industry as a whole has failed to create a standardized base of analytics related to supply and demand. Mr. Aaron suggested that supply and demand is regionally based. Mr. Trout spoke about the advantages of climate and power in Eastern Washington. Mr. Marin highlighted that most enterprise users, though desirous of higher Tier rated data center space, reject the pricing associated with it and don’t really want to pay for 2N builds. Mr. Papouchado’s insight was related to the fact that the mores sophisticated the end-user, the clearer the definition of the project and the easier it is to actually close a deal. A broad discussion ensued related to geography and the benefits of one location over another, but I have to ask, isn’t identifying a data center location really a result of building a business case? Doesn’t (or shouldn’t) the business case trump everything else?

The panel titled, “What are the Coolest Parts of Cooling you need to know?” moderated by Anton Self of Bastion Host (www.bastionhost.com) and included Gary Cudmore of Deerns America (http://www.deerns.com/contact/united_states_of_america/?cid=71), Fletcher Kittredge of GWI (http://www.gwi.net/), Bruce Myatt of M+W Group (www.mwgroup.net), Tarif Abboushi of NTT America (www.nttamerica.com) and Jim Kennedy of RagingWire Data Centers (www.ragingwire.com). The first (and most controversial) question posed by Mr. Self, asked who thought that within our lifetimes we would witness the end of the use of mechanical cooling in data centers. Everyone on the panel except for Jim Kennedy agreed. Mr. Kennedy reacted that in some parts of the world, using air economization, or free air cooling, just isn’t possible. I would agree in that as long as there is a need because of latency, redundancy or otherwise, to have multiple data centers in geographically diverse locations and then current server technology either doesn’t allow for extremely high environmental temperatures or servers still generate excessive heat, additional cooling will be needed.

One of the most interesting panel presentations focused on Colocation and Service Level Agreements. The panel moderated by Shawn Mills of Greenhouse Data (http://www.greenhousedata.com/) located in Wyoming that is powered by a wind farm. The panel included Barry Novick of Blackrock, Inc. (www.blackrock.com), Jeffrey Moerdler (previously mentioned above) and Everett Thompson of Wired Real Estate Group (www.wiredre.com). The positions and perspectives varied greatly with Mr. Moerdler taking a very middle ground. Mr. Novick’s opening comment was that his top 2 requirements in a data center are keeping the lights on and cooling the data center. Mr. Thompson’s rash comment that he relies on attorneys to negotiate the SLA and that they’re worthless anyway brought some well-directed comments from Mr. Moerdler to somewhat soften the glib remark. As expected from a thoughtful expert, Mr. Moerdler offered a list of extremely important issues and distinctions to be addressed in thoroughly negotiating a colocation service level agreement. Those included security, access control, responsiveness to unscheduled access requests, delivery of additional power circuits, uptime, maintenance, testing and repair procedures and schedules, self-help, web access to the NOC for maintenance repairs, notifications/certifications, compliance, outages, termination rights and more. Listening to this man is always enlightening. The bottom line as agreed by the entire panel is that the SLA is not there to only extract credits and compensation from the operator or service provider, but rather, as Mr. Moerdler so eloquently stated, ‘to act as a guideline for building operations and as a dis-incentive to the operator to avoid and prevent outages and bad practices.’ I couldn’t agree more.
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