Data Centers are Constantly Evolving

Growing up, we did not have a home computer in my family until I was 11 years old. We were fortunate enough that my momma brought home an Apple desktop over the summer; my sister and I dedicated all of our computer time to Oregon Train and Number Munchers. (“Like” this post if you remember those games on 3.5 x 5 floppy disks!)

Never could I have imagined that my career would teach me that the “cloud” is built by dedicated men and women who focus on operational excellence and reliability to keep our data continuously flowing 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Just as our computer gaming choices have evolved, there has been a dramatic change in technology over the years. With data centers, the dominant focus remains on efficiency improvements. According to Vali Sorell of Sorell Engineering, design professionals are also more creative with a wider understanding of energy efficient technologies and a significant jump in innovation in mechanical and electrical design.

Over the past two weeks CAI has participated in two events that focused on the health, viability, and sustainability regarding the global data center industry. We hear that the data center industry is booming and evolving, globally. Each meeting we attend, we hear about how much closer we are to solving the challenge of autonomous vehicles with “Smart Cities” supporting WIFI and cameras that will allow the data to consistently ping from one street to the next with forward thinking technology utilizing those cameras to see potential dangers 3 feet or 3 miles away.

Missy Young, CTO of Switch Data Centers, presented a thoughtful discussion on how her firm’s vision is focusing on renewable energy. Their data centers are completely off the power grid.

Donough Roche, from Datacentrs, Inc., facilitated a panel on the European market and investor activity in the US and Europe. It was intriguing to hear about the changes to data center design as they morph to accommodate the influx of data coming in from users.  The European market will be busy again this year as businesses prepare for the impact of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

This week in Raleigh, we heard David Sarkus, The Safety Coach, discuss challenges in maintaining a safe work force. His awe-inspiring talk considered servant leadership and integrating yourself into being a part of the team, instead of on top of the team. If you are viewed as a regulator, then you are not likely to empower people to work safely. Instead, if you work with your team daily, empowering them to share with you the challenges, and discuss the “what ifs” during a shutdown, normal tie in, cross over, or staff shortage scenario, then the conversation will flow freely with a higher percentage of mitigating risk and injury in the work place. Being a present, approachable leader will get you farther than managing with a heavy hand.

Both programs we attended had enormous support for educating and promoting Women in Mission Critical fields. Men and women alike discussed real life scenarios and unconscious biases that are common workplace issues today. While women have had equal rights for a long time, there is still much room for improvement in our work places today. If you are interested in getting more engaged with any of the WiMCO chapters across the US, please email me at, and I will connect you with the right person.

The most valuable lesson I have learned these past two weeks is that no matter which part of the supply chain you are on in the industry, whether you manage the data or physical space, supply the fiber optics, or commission the switch gear, we are all needed to accomplish the uninterrupted data service to stream our favorite football games (Go Eagles!), binge on our latest Netflix series, or check our email. Kudos to CAPRE and 7×24 Carolinas for two great programs focused on helping move our industry safely forward in the areas of innovation, sustainability, and compliance.

Visit our Data Center Commissioning page here to learn about how CAI can provide valuable advice and services through every step of your project.