Them’s Fighten’ Words

Them’s Fighten’ WordsMost people tend to try and avoid confrontation. It’s usually kind of unpleasant and uncomfortable, feelings get hurt—sometimes tears are shed—and there’s typically an air of unease that carries over for a time after the event. Others, however, seem to relish in it. Maybe it has something to do with how you were raised. I consider myself moderately confrontational—some of you may disagree-but my family life was pretty laid back, while my marketing guy says he grew up in a household where “pass the salt” could initiate furious debate. Personally, I believe that, on balance, it tends to be a productive, and often therapeutic exercise. Regardless of your personal inclination toward confrontation, I think that we can all agree that it tends to be a galvanizing process with sides being taken and invectives hurled between the disagreeing parties. In other words, quality confrontation makes for a good time for all. The data center industry tends to avoid confrontation. Think about it. When was the last time you saw any fur flying at a conference or trade show presentation. A guy could get up there with a PowerPoint presentation that said that all data centers should be painted blue, and everyone would just give him a nice golf clap and move onto the next session. Well folks, those days might be over.

Yes indeed, sports fans, the gauntlet has been thrown down. I just read a blog post stating that PUE was “nonsensical” and needs to be replaced. Wow, don’t sugar coat it baby, give it to ‘em straight. I think this just might be the spark to ignite the metaphorical powder keg that we’ve—well at least me—have been waiting for.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the folks at the Green Grid. I don’t think anyone likes to be told that their baby is ugly, but I think a pointed response is just what is needed to interject a little excitement into our industry. This could be the beginning of a market defining schism, and doesn’t every major industry have one (at least) in their history. Electricity had AC versus DC, Westinghouse versus Edison. Videotape had Betamax versus VHS, and doesn’t everyone remember the holy war that was fought between the Mac and the PC. Well, maybe some schisms are bigger than others, but you know what I mean.

Now that our industry’s veil of politeness has been torn away, I wonder what direction this whole issue is going to take. Is this the liberating event that legions of closeted PUE haters have been waiting for? And just how will the multitudes that have made PUE the holy grail of metrics respond? This kind of reminds me of the big fights that took place when we were in junior high. One guy would say something, the other guy—usually egged on by his less combative, but otherwise enthusiastic friends—would respond in kind, and the next thing you know, they’ve got each other in headlocks on the floor and a phone call to their parents in their future. Great stuff. Now, of course, we are all older and more mature, so maybe the best we can hope for is a level of discourse slightly below that used in our nation’s capital—because let’s face it, no matter how someone feels about PUE, it doesn’t rise to the level of being accused of being a former member of the Hitler Youth. The tension that arises from disagreement is fine, but let’s save the hyperbolic stupidity for our elected officials.

I don’t know how this is all going to resolve itself, but I’m positively giddy with anticipation. Conflicting views on the value of PUE might just be the big industry dividing issue that turns us from a collection of docile competitors to warring collections of vicious partisans. As any student of history can tell you, industry growth skyrockets upon the resolution of these types of epic confrontations. Exciting, thought provoking and good for the bottom line, what more can we ask for? Sure it might be uncomfortable for a while, but if it means more exciting trade show presentations, count me in.