When does the novelty wear off something? Certainly not if you’re the first to own the next big thing, whatever that thing may be. But how many other people have to own one before it’s no big deal anymore? This is more than just trying to “keep up with the Joneses”–aren’t we all a little past that old bourgeois concept. I think that really hit its peak in the 70’s. I know it would help explain the preponderance of Avocado and Harvest Gold appliances in the neighborhood where I grew up. No, this is something altogether different. This is Air Jordan tennis shoes, PS2’s, iPhone 5’s, Louis Vitton bags—although why someone would want a purse with someone else’s initials on it is beyond me—the things that someone just “has to have” until everyone else has them, and then we need something else. But just when is the line between trendsetter and “oh, everyone has one of those” crossed? I guess if I knew the answer to that, I’d be referred to as “Mr. Chris” and famous people would flock to see my latest “must have” creation. Despite my lack of bona fides as a follower of conspicuous consumption, I will say that I think data centers have crossed over into the land of everyone has one of those.
This observation probably comes as a shock to a lot of you. I must admit that the revelation caught me off guard as well, but I think you’ll agree that the evidence is undeniable. So here it goes. The other day I stumbled upon an article documenting how Juilliard was overcoming cooling problems in their data centers. Now you’re probably asking yourselves, “Juilliard. You mean that school in New York for artsy people where you can wear tights and a tutu to class and pantomime is an elective? They have a data center?” Yes, that Juilliard. Don’t ask me why they have a data center since they’re obviously not doing the kind of number crunching that you might find at MIT or even storing the large volume of student information that you’d find at good old State U—but be that as it may, they’ve got one. Please don’t confuse my surprise that a school strictly for dance, music and drama majors has a data center for some kind reverse cultural eliteism. I love the arts—I’ve seen “Rock of Ages” twice—but if Juilliard has a data center, and one big enough to have cooling problems, I think the novelty has worn off.
For the industry I think this is probably a good thing. It means we’re one step closer to a broader market. My marketing guy is very excited about this because he thinks we’ll all be doing TV commercials with celebrity endorsements. While I admit that Charlize Theron for Compass Datacenters is a pretty intriguing concept, we’re a long, long way from that. But since we’ve now broken the mythical “Juilliard Barrier”, data centers are going to be showing up on the purchase itineraries of more and more businesses, and that’s a good thing. Obviously this is the price we must pay for success. Should we mourn our descent from Mount Uniqueness? I say no. Let’s embrace our slide into becoming passé. After all there’s a lot more money to be made when “everyone has one of those”.