The Foundations of Digital Infrastructure with George Rockett

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Step into the world of digital infrastructure with Raymond Hawkins and George Rockett on this episode of Not Your Father’s Data Center!

🎙️ George Rockett, CEO & Co-Founder of DatacenterDynamics, shares his journey from being a humble advertising salesperson to the inception of DatacenterDynamics magazine in 1998.

From the early days of data processing to the evolution of modern data centers, they explore the fascinating journey of building a global digital infrastructure.

Key topics:

🌐 The evolution of enterprise data centers, the burst of the .com bubble, and the concept of zero downtime.

🔄 The industry’s development and perception over time.

🔋 The need for a paradigm shift in how we perceive and discuss energy usage in the digital infrastructure landscape.

⚙️ Systems thinking, integrating polymaths to address industry challenges, and the urgency for quicker action due to vast opportunities.

💬 George also presents his innovative endeavor, Yotta, and stresses the unification of language and communication within the digital infrastructure industry.

Tune in to “The Foundations of Digital Infrastructure” for an engaging and enlightening journey into the heart of the unseen world that powers our digital lives. Whether you’re a seasoned industry veteran or a curious newcomer, this podcast offers invaluable insights and perspectives that will challenge your perceptions and expand your understanding of the digital landscape.

Read the full transcript below:

Raymond Hawkins:        All right. Welcome to another edition of Not Your Father’s Data Center. I am Raymond Hawkins, the Chief Revenue Officer here at Compass. Today, joining you from our Dallas headquarters, and we are joined by the founder of Data Center Dynamics, our friend of the program, George Rockett, who is calling in from London, England. George, how you doing, bud?

George Rockett:            Yeah, I’m really, really good. I’m really happy to be on this podcast today. I’m usually on the other side, Raymond.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re usually getting to drive and ask all the questions. Today, you’re going to have to do all the talking. Let’s talk about a few things. Let’s talk about you a little bit. Let’s talk about Data Center Dynamics, which is how I think most of us know who you are. And if I remember right, I did my homework, you founded the magazine when you were 14 or 15? How old were you?

George Rockett:            Close. Thanks a lot.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah. All right, good.

George Rockett:            Yeah.

Raymond Hawkins:        All right, good. Good. It was in the ’90s, though, right? ’98? Or ’96, ’98. What year was it?

George Rockett:            ’98. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was still in short trousers. Yeah. Yeah, I was.

Raymond Hawkins:        That’s good. Okay, good. Still in school. Excellent. And then you’re kicking around this new idea that we’ll talk about after we get a little bit about you and a little bit about Data Center Dynamics. I want to make sure I say it right. Is it, Yotta?

George Rockett:            We’ve been talking about this. Now, apparently it’s a short O. It’s Yotta.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yotta.

George Rockett:            I say in an English way, but anyway, you can say Yotta as well. Everybody’s saying it different, but we know what it means.

Raymond Hawkins:        Got it. All right, Yotta. All right. Well, I’m from deep South Georgia, so folks have a hard time understanding me anyway, so just whatever you call it, we’ll go with that. All right, so Data Center Dynamics. It’s the late ’90s. The internet is barely a thing. And you decide, “Hey, we better talk about these things,” and you start up a magazine. That’s where we’re going. But before we get to there, tell us about you. How’d you get in the publishing business? How’d you get in the data center business? Is London home? All that stuff. Let’s learn a little about you, George.

George Rockett:            Let’s start with me. So London is home. I think for a lot of my life, London wasn’t meant to be my home. I was meant to live somewhere else, but I ended up just traveling the world and living here. So for a good many years, when we started working with DCD and doing events all the way around the world, I spent three quarters of the year abroad. It’s kind of like I’ve lived abroad, but I’ve never really lived abroad. And I’ve actually lived here, within the same mile now, since 1995.

Raymond Hawkins:        Whoa. Oh my goodness. There you go. Figuring your way around now?

George Rockett:            Yeah, just about. Well, I can get to the airport, I’ll tell you that. I can get to the airport.

Raymond Hawkins:        And back again. Good, good. All right.

George Rockett:            I’ve been here so long, they’ve found different ways of getting to the airport. Large bits of infrastructure have been built, billions have been spent in getting me to the airport in different ways. It’s amazing.

Raymond Hawkins:        I appreciate your government making sure you could get there expeditiously.

George Rockett:            You asked how I got into publishing. That’s really, I think, that’s how I got into data centers. But I was a humble advertising salesperson for many, many years. When I left university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t… An arts degree. I did history and modern languages, so nothing technical. I had a business partner at the time, and well, for many years, a guy called Dan Scarborough. And we thought if we can sell advertising space, we can sell anything.

                                    And this opportunity came up to sell what, at the time, was colo space. We thought, this is like a magazine, it’s blank. I mean, you just get somebody to think about what they want to put in there. And do you know what? It was so tough, nobody even knew what this was. It wasn’t a thing yet. We were talking about disaster recovery centers and exchanges, doing minutes exchange, and it was just the early days.

Raymond Hawkins:        It was not the same as selling the inside back cover. It was different.

George Rockett:            It was not the same. It was different. But we saw an opportunity, right at that time, that this was going to be big, and we published the magazine. And that was in 1998, the first magazine. That led to many magazines around colocation. And then the dot-com bubble burst, and it was like, “Whoa, where’s this colo going?” And it was that moment of realization that actually the enterprise data center had been around forever, and it was evolving at the same pace.

                                    And if you remember, at that time, everything was about banks, banking data centers and things like that. As the internet grew, and services grew, and being online grew, they needed to grow. They were the first big users. At that time, we changed Colo Network into zero downtime. What’s the end goal? Zero downtime. And out of zero downtime was born the idea of doing events called Data Center Dynamics. And 23 years into doing events, and we come up to the modern day. That’s been my career.

Raymond Hawkins:        Holy cow. You talk about… I liked you made a comment and you said the enterprise data center had always been around. I joke with people, especially my children, I say, “Guys, when I first started working in technology, we had posters in the office and that said, ‘Someday, there’ll be a computer on every desk.'” That’s how early I got in the technology business.

                                    We were walking in and telling people to buy computers for the first time, and they’re like, “What? What? Well, I don’t need a computer. I can do it all right here in my ledger. Why would I do a computer?” And to your point, back when we used to call it DP, he works in data processing. And it was in a room somewhere, and you handed a stack of green bar through a wooden slot in the wall. And so, we’ve always had an… I say always. For my adult and professional life, there’s always been a data center, but not thought about the way, and you alluded to, that there had been an-

George Rockett:            You’re showing your age, Raymond. You’re showing your age.

Raymond Hawkins:        That’s right. I’m definitely showing my age.

George Rockett:            If you’re listening to this-

Raymond Hawkins:        I’m going to get emails about what’s a green bar report. They’re going to be like, “What did you say? Wooden slots?”

George Rockett:            If you’re listening to this and not seeing this, maybe Raymond’s dying his hair. Because…

Raymond Hawkins:        I have been accused of that. Yes, I have been accused. Yeah, wooden slots. And of course, I remember, we’re going way back, I remember sending a box of cards that you program. That’s how you did your program. “Hey, I’ve written my program here. Run these cards through the machine.” So yeah, we’ve had data processing for a long time. But yeah, that’s awesome, that in the late ’90s, you’re going, “Wait a minute, this thing might catch on.”

George Rockett:            If you think back to that time, it might catch on. And I remember we were selling large, big double page spread ads to Exodus. And it’s at that time that you start getting, in a way, the motherships of the business that we see today, people that came out with it. And in a way, it was a total flop, but it was amazing. It bore the salespeople, the engineers, the network people in this new world. So it was an interesting time.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah. Laid the foundation. Yeah. Global Crossing. You bring up Exodus. I think of Global Crossing and I think of some of those early guys that were doing things that said, “Hey, we got to change this.” And even though their business model didn’t work, it’s clearly the foundation for what all of us are working on today.

George Rockett:            And we still call the data centers by their names. So if you’re in London, and you’re down in Canary Wharf, you go, “There’s a Global Crossing data center.”

Raymond Hawkins:        That’s right. That’s right. That’s exactly right. Yeah, yeah, exactly right. That’s right. Oh, that was an Exodus building. That’s exactly right. Yeah. Good stuff. I’m sorry, I’m going to take us on a book tour briefly, since you said your degree is in history. Have you read Tubes? The book that’s about the beginning of the data center business?

George Rockett:            I think I read half of it a long, long time ago when it first came out.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah, it was probably-

George Rockett:            I’m saying that because I’m really bad at completing books. Okay? So I’m just saying that.

Raymond Hawkins:        That’s fair. I want to say the book’s probably about 10 years old, but you’re talking about those early days and the book tells a bit of the story of how did we get to the data center business that everyone that listens to our podcast is a part of today. So 23 years… Before we get into me mispronouncing Yotta again, let’s do a little bit more on DCD. 23 years of doing events around the world, give me highs, lows, two or three lessons learned. I mean, you’ve gotten to see some stuff in a quarter-century of doing events around data processing all the way through to data centers today, and cloud computing, and AI now.

George Rockett:            A thousand lessons learned. Some I wish I didn’t have to learn, because they were about business and being young and being in business. There was a time when we were doing 60 events around the world and we had teams speaking in Russian, we had China teams. It was like we had this flag to plant saying data center in countries of the world, and people would wait for us to come. They didn’t even consider themselves a data center market, and we would go there. I remember the early, heady days, with your own CEO, Chris Crosby, and we’d be flying everywhere. This was so new.

                                    And we evolved with the market, and we started doing training. We were always a media player. Events changed. And we’ve always been listening to the market and catering to what the market needs at the same time as trying to manage being a business, manage being profitable. And there’s been some really difficult times, but we’ve always believed, or I’ve always believed in data centers. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Wherever I go with people that I’ve known for a long time, we pinch ourselves. We go, “Is this still a thing?” And then we get into the conversation of, “No, it’s more than a thing. We’re just at the beginning of a thing.” It’s mind-blowing. Yeah.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yes. Yes. It is. George, I think you raise a great point. And a lot of our listeners, I think, feel this too, right? There’s this talk about sometimes, “Hey, where are we in the life cycle of this business?” And we’re still, in a baseball analogy, we’re still in the early innings. We’re still in the first or second inning of what this is going to be, of what truly building a global digital infrastructure that supports the way the world works is still in the early stages.

                                    As we started going down the Yotta angle, we talked a little bit about airports. But I think about things that are infrastructure today, railroads, right? We built those 150 years ago, and all of digital history is only about 60 years old from the very first… So we’re still early in this process, and we’re early in converting all of the things that we do and making them digital.

                                    And I’m going to bring up one passion thing, and I promise we’ll get back to Yotta. I think that our industry gets jabbed, elbowed in the ribs a bit about how much energy we use. That’s definitely an issue. And one of the things I hope that I can help do, or at least talk about and bring some awareness and maybe compass, is it’s not that the data industry is a big user of energy.

                                    Every time we do a development, every time one of my competitors, our industry does a… The way it gets published is it’s going to use 150 megawatts, and that could power a small village in Scotland for 10 years. I mean, that could power 8500 homes. The writers try to relate it back to a household and how long, and they’re trying to say, “Wow, this is using up a lot of power,” because people don’t understand what megawatts or gigawatts are.

                                    I would just say the data center’s not doing that. The data center is providing a service to the world that utilizes energy. Now, we want to be good stewards of that energy and we want to use the energy as efficiently as we can, and we want to source it as globally aware as we can, but we’re providing a service. We get the power bill, the power bill comes to us because we own the meter. But we’re really providing a service to the globe and trying to think about, George, having you been in this business long enough, the question is, what’s the right way for us as an industry to talk about energy, and specifically our use of energy?

George Rockett:            Oh, wow. This is a thorny issue. First, people banding numbers around. We use energy as an industry, but what we use them for are buildings without windows that people can point out. So these buildings can’t stand up for themselves. If it was a car manufacturing plant, employing 15,000 people, nobody’s going to question that. They can see it. They can see people going in and out. It looks like it’s part of humanity and part of society.

Raymond Hawkins:        And they can get in and drive the cars that come out of the end of the supply chain.

George Rockett:            Of course. They get it, they get it. There’s a physicality and an understanding, there’s a human connection. But to data centers, there isn’t that. Now this issue, telecoms doesn’t get this. The satellite industry doesn’t get this. Because data centers are part of digital infrastructure. It’s just the only part of digital infrastructure that’s not abstract. The network’s abstract, the cables are under the ground. But it’s the only visible part of it.

                                    So actually, it needs to be looked at in the context of everything. It’s kind of like the data center industry takes the butt of everything. It’s like, “Well, it’s all your fault.” Well, no, it’s connected to things. And these servers are bought by other people, the silicone is made by other people. And that’s a bit about why I’ve spun up this new gig alongside DCD called Yotta, to try and create a much bigger platform around digital infrastructure.

Raymond Hawkins:        So let’s talk about it. I would agree with you. The abstract nature, as you described, of a network, the guy who runs fiber from Dallas to IED, no one sees his thing, and no one worries about the energy that’s getting used to light up that fiber. But they see the building on either end, and the building got the power bill, and so the building is the guy who’s eating up all the energy. And we’ve got to come up with a way to talk about the industry differently and the services that the industry provides, not just the energy that the industry is consuming. And I think you see that and feel that with your Yotta conversation. So tell us a little bit about what you’re looking at.

George Rockett:            That’s exactly it, right? I don’t think… I have many data center events around the world, I organize them. Tens of thousands of people come to them. And we get up, I get up, and we say, “We’re an industry. We’re the data center industry.” I don’t think we are, and I think that’s the problem. I think we’re part of the digital infrastructure industry. This is like saying we are the airport terminal building industry. No, we’re not. We’re part of the aviation industry. An airport terminal is a necessary part of aviation. A runway is as well. An airport control tower is as well. And so is the manufacture of engines and the making of sandwiches that we eat on the airplanes. Part of aviation.

                                    What’s happened is, IT is so young, it is siloed, and data center is one part of it. And the data center part of it translates a thing called a megawatt command. And we deal in megawatts. And they’re enormous, and they’re big buildings, and they consume lots of energy, and it’s a megawatt command. And mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, civil engineers, they all get together to build this thing. But left of that megawatt command are all the other silos. I like to call them tribes because I believe it’s about how you feel tribally. I talk about megawatts. Well, I talk about megaflops, I talk about megabits.

                                    And they’ve all got their own education pathway to get to talking about that, so they create their unique language, but all of them are translating an IT capacity requirement into digital infrastructure. All of them. Whether you’re in the cloud tribe and you’re sourcing new contracts, whether you’re in network, telecoms, telecoms split, the wireless group, whether you’re in satellite, you’ve all got a different language, but your end goal’s the same. And within the enterprise, you’re competing, right?

                                    Now, this is currently, I think, unique to the IT world, because I don’t think it happened, or maybe it did happen in aviation, but I’d like to give you this analogy. Imagine an A380 Airbus, the largest Airbus airplane, double-decker one that we know, imagine that being sent to its first customers and the pilot radioing ahead saying, “Did you make a longer runway, and a larger passenger terminal, and a more robust runway for the weight?” And the traffic controller going, “No, we didn’t get the memo. Oh, we can’t land the plane.” It would be impossible. It could never happen.

                                    And you ask why could it never happen? Well, it could never happen because Airbus took 10 years to build the engine. Airbus, Rolls-Royce took 10 years to build the Brent engine. They wouldn’t have done that development without knowledge of the future. It didn’t happen because runways had to get bigger. It didn’t happen because aviation is vertically integrated as an industry. It’s had a long time. It’s had over 100 years to do this.

                                    But it didn’t really need to get serious until the ’60s with the jet engine, because the jet engine changed everything. Up until that point, they used propeller engines. From the Wright brothers all the way through two World Wars, where completely different types of airplanes were built, they were still same fundamentally. From paper, to aluminum, to bigger propellers, to different engines, to different fuel types, but it was just iterative design. Then a jet engine comes along and it all changes. My hypothesis is that we are living the jet engine moment in digital infrastructure.

                                    It’s been okay for everybody to be siloed. It’s been okay. Everybody’s got on with it. It’s been a lot of trust built up. We don’t need to know what’s on the other side of the abstraction layer. Somebody else has got that covered. Everybody over-provisions a little bit. Buy an extra bit of network, buy some more compute, we build a bit more of the data center. We don’t use all of it, right? Okay. So all that over-provisioning is there, and it’s all okay, and it works. And I think, right now, we’ve got to this point where maybe it doesn’t work with what’s going to come up with what we’re faced with now.

                                    So that’s why I’ve developed Yotta alongside DCD. Because DCD won’t stretch to all of those other silos, to all of those other people. So I think we need a new catalyst for a new conversation. And if we said we’re just at the beginning right now of this industry, this is a catalyst for conversation that might take the next 10, 20, 30 years, I think, of how you vertically integrate this thing. And I remember, I was speaking with you before. We spoke about data center as an asset class, as an infrastructure asset. And I think that’s so true.

Raymond Hawkins:        I got to say, George, this is as good an analogy… I always find that the smartest people make hard things sound simple. And your description of the airline industry and your example of the A380 and the jet engine, I think it fits perfectly. And I loved it. You kind of sped through it. So I’m going to back up to it. Nobody says, “I’m in the runway concrete business.” No one says that. No one says, “I’m in the airport jetway business. I just do jetways. I’m sorry. I’m just the jetway guy. Don’t talk to me about what goes on either end. I’m just the jetway guy.”

                                    And in our industry, that happens. “I’m just the LAN guy. I’m just the power guy. I’m just the network guy. I’m just the fiber guy. Oh, I’m just the dark fiber guy.” And our industry is completely siloed. I like that word. We’ve got all these slices of solutions, and so far, we’ve ultimately aggregated, and, to keep the analogy going, made an airplane that can fly, but we’ve done it by hook or by crook, rather than by the vertical integration.

                                    And I’d add to your vertical integration phrase, the shared road map, right? Because not only are they virtually integrated, but Airbus asked Rolls-Royce to build that engine because they shared with them, “Hey, here’s why I need an engine that does this. Because I’m going to build this plane that looks like this.” And then they went and talked to jetway producers and said, “Hey, I don’t need one that goes up 30 feet. I need one that goes up 45 feet,” or whatever it is. Right? And they started to share a product roadmap and integrate that product roadmap with each other, which our industry doesn’t do. So tell me how Yotta helps.

George Rockett:            But Raymond, there are people that do this. Hyperscalers haven’t become hyperscalers without not talking to each other within the silos.

Raymond Hawkins:        That’s right.

George Rockett:            It’s about systems thinking and they’ve absorbed these people. It’s about polymaths. You must meet these people. They’re your clients. And they’re like, “They’ve got an electrical engineering degree and an electronics degree, and they know about all sorts of things.” There are people that can do this. And there’s people that have done this in other industry sectors, which is really interesting about data centers at the moment. We’re trying to bring in people that can look at this in a different way as well.

                                    So it’s not, not happening. It just has to happen a little bit quicker. Because I think there’s so much opportunity. So when I pitch my idea to people at the moment, I’ve built this phenomenal advisory board, and I’ve spent literally the last eight months evangelizing this idea, and people go, “Yeah.” And they ask that question that you’ve just asked, “Well, what are you going to do, George?”

Raymond Hawkins:        Fix it. Come on, George. Fix it.

George Rockett:            All I can do is bring people together that are saying, “Yeah.” Because when you bring people together that are saying, “Yeah,” great things happen. And as a conference organizer, an event producer, what you do is you try and create that special source that makes this hamburger event better, that everybody starts talking about. And there, the action starts happening.

                                    So in year one for Yotta, this event’s going to be in Vegas at the MGM Grand in October. We’ve actually taken away one of the West Coast DCD events to make room for it so we don’t overburden the calendars. We’ve got this amazing conference program. We’ve pulled in… On our advisory board, we’ve got Renee J. James, the founder of Ampere Computing, the ex-president of Intel, all the way to the other side, to the founder and COO of Oklo, that’s likely to be one of the first people to put a small modular reactor in a data center campus, from what I read.

                                    And all of these people together, telecoms people and everybody else, that I don’t think has been done before, not in the idea of bringing them together to talk about the future. People come together to deal make about what’s happening this year, but not to talk about the future. So I’m hoping that will be a catalyst for this conversation.

Raymond Hawkins:        So George, there’s two things you said in there that I want to try to grab a thread and talk about. As I’m listening to you talk about putting them all in the room, everybody that says, “Yeah,” and let’s get them in the room and talk about stuff, the first one I thought about from an integration perspective is nuclear, right? I think, and I don’t want to cause a dust up about energy, but I think, personally, the answer to what is a green solution that will give us sufficient power to help us continue to provide the digitization that the world is clearly wanting to consume.

                                    We need more power, well, how do we do that without doing bad things to the air that we breathe or the water that we drink? I think nuclear is the answer for that. I’m admitting not to be an electrical scientist or an environmental scientist, but I think when everything gets boils down, we’re going to want some of those, right? We’re going to want some more nuclear reactors.

                                    And the idea of doing that in conjunction with not just the SMR through the app provider, but everybody in the middle getting together and going, “Okay, I get I’m not going to buy it from SRP in Arizona. I’m going to put a reactor up.” I get that one piece of integration. But there’s integration opportunity for everything else too. And because energy is a hot button issue, that one seems easy.

                                    Put me in the room with the guy who’s making SMRs, and let’s talk about how to do development together. Now, I don’t have to go to the state’s grid and get the power. I don’t have to go to Ireland’s grid, where they can’t have any more power. I’m going to show up with my power generator on a truck and we’re going to drop it over there. That one, to me, is an easy one to understand. But it’s every layer of the business. That’s what I hear you saying.

George Rockett:            But it’s easy. But I mean, I joke about this. The two most disliked things in the world at the moment are data centers and nuclear. And we that know think that, together, they’re amazing. And they are amazing. It’s everyone else. Everyone else. But they are incredible. But I mean, joking aside, if you listen to Sam Altman at Davos the other week saying, “We cannot grow this world of compute of where we know it can take us without energy solutions.” You look at him, he’s involved in, well in Oklo, he’s the main backer of Oklo. He’s also looking the back of the nuclear fusion company as well. So it’s interesting of AI and trying to come up with the solution. It looks like data centers and digital infrastructures at the moment, it’s at the nexus of this energy transition that we can have. And that’s really, really exciting.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah. So when Skynet takes over, they’re going to be able to point to this recording and hold our children responsible for being at the point where it all happened. If we could just go back in time and kill Raymond and George’s parents, so that they wouldn’t have gotten nuclear and data centers together, Skynet wouldn’t exist. You see?

George Rockett:            Do you know what? Luckily enough, it’s bigger than you and me. I think it’s real.

Raymond Hawkins:        Thank goodness.

George Rockett:            I think it’s real. And I imagine behind closed doors, or even more open doors, you saw with Microsoft hiring ahead of nuclear, and… This is open language. If I’d mentioned nuclear five years ago on a DCD stage-

Raymond Hawkins:        Three years ago, George. Yeah.

George Rockett:            Even three.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah, yeah.

George Rockett:            A couple of years ago, year and a half ago, I started saying, “Who in the room thinks this is a good idea,” and everybody’s arm shot up. Somebody’s arm wasn’t up, people would have been looking at them saying, “What’s wrong with you?” From the permitting side and the technology side, this is moving really fast.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah. Big stuff, interesting stuff. I think what I hear you saying is, “Raymond, I’ve found that when I put people that are in their own silos, doing things that are tangentially related to each other, I put them all in the same room, good things happen. And that’s what I did with DCD for 25 years, and it’s what I’m trying to do with Yotta.”

George Rockett:            Absolutely. But it’s about language. It’s finding the language of each of the groups. And sometimes it’s got to be turned on its head for the other group to understand. It’s like a data center engineer thumping the book saying, “We need to tackle the 1 in PUE.” Completely. Needs to be more efficient on the compute side. But if you say, “We need to tackle the 1 in the PUE,” to that other room of people, they won’t know what you’re talking about. If you reframe it, and you change it, and you put a financial aspect on it, suddenly it’s like, “Oh, yeah. Totally.” So you’ve got to find these points of commonality, this language.

                                    In a way, right now, I’d liken it to the Tower of Babel, right? Everybody’s running around and shouting. And they’re like, “This is the one God, this is the one thing.” And in fact, they’re all kind of saying the same thing, but differently, and none of them understand each other. And that’s right for just doing things better… If we’re already doing things well, just normalize, align, get the language together, and we’ll do even better.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah. You said something, and I may steal it, if you let me. You said that there is the aviation industry, right? It’s an aviation industry. We don’t talk about the guy… And we can’t say, “I’m in the dark fiber business,” and, “I’m in the lit fiber business,” and, “I’m in the entitlement business,” and, “I’m in the concrete business,” and, “I’m in the rack business,” and, “I’m in the fit out business,” and, “I’m in the server business,” and, “I’m in the data center…” No, no. We’re in the digital infrastructure industry. And I think that… Because language matters, right? We’re talking about people being able to communicate.

George Rockett:            Imagine if everybody said that. Suddenly, the standing of it would go up. Everybody would say, you’d go, “Wow, I talk to so many people that are part of this industry. It must be enormous.” Well, yes, it is. Actually, the entire modern world relies on this.

Raymond Hawkins:        Amen.

George Rockett:            It’s how you’re… And so, I think we’ve just got to talk the game up. But everybody’s been so busy in their own silos, I don’t think they’ve had time. I spoke with this lovely guy the other day in Austria. It’s another story from a business called Cerabyte, putting data on ceramics. A whole other story. But he looked from outside in, and he said, “It looks like the IT industry is so young, it’s not had a chance to think long term,” he said. And it was like, it sums it up.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yes. Yeah. I mean, I joked at the beginning about having posters in my office about someday there’ll be a computer on every desk. That’s one grown man’s working life. And literally, there was no… I’m going to tell you a funny story. This will fit in your Cerabyte question about how young our industry is. So my kids are in their early 20s, and I make them watch old movies because I enjoy the old movies and I want them to have the experience of what good movie making is.

                                    A seminal work, Karate kid. I mean, who can forget Ralph Macchio in the ’80s, right? I mean, it’s just world-class movie making. Pat Morita. I mean, I could go on. But my children, this is now 15 years ago, and we’re watching it on a VHS tape, and the movie’s playing. And as you’ll remember, Daniel’s mom leaves New Jersey and drives a station wagon across to the West Coast because she’s going to get a technology job in the computers. And Daniel comes into the restaurant, because his mom’s working in the restaurant, because the technology job isn’t scheduled to start yet.

                                    And Daniel is saying, “Mom, I hate California. I’m getting my butt kicked every day. Let’s go back to New Jersey.” And his mom sits him down in the restaurant and she goes, “Daniel, we’re not going back to New Jersey. I’ve got great news. They’ve asked for me to be in the management trainee program here at the restaurant.” And Daniel loses his shit. And he’s like, “Mom, we moved out here to go to the computer business. You can work at a restaurant in New Jersey.” And she looks at Daniel and she says, “Daniel, no one makes any money in computers.”

                                    Now, why do I tell that silly story? Because it was written by a writer who knew that everybody would just go, “Yeah, of course. No one makes money in computers.” As a part of Americana and as a part of cinema history, I stopped it the first time. I’m like, “Kids, rewind that. What did she say?” Because I’m, at the time, making a career selling technology. And to talk about how young our industry is, completely acceptable to write into the script of a movie just 40 years ago that no one makes money in technology. I’d rather be the assistant manager at TGI Fridays than be in the computer business. And that was viewed as normal. That’s how young our industry is, George.

George Rockett:            That’s incredible. As you said that, Karate Kid, I was just, wax on, wax off, when he meets Mr. Miyagi. Everything, that growing up story, being bullied, overcoming it, and it’s completely went over my head, that bit that you spoke about. But actually, if you’re looking at cinema history and IT history, that would be something that you could write a thesis on, right?

Raymond Hawkins:        Well, that’s my point. My point is I built a career selling ones and zeros, and the equipment that work on them, and I was struck. I’m showing the movie because I want my kids to learn wax on, wax off, and young love, and standing up for… And I hear that line, and it’s exactly what you said, your friend telling you, your industry is just too young. It is. Our industry is young, and it’s maturing, and it’s developing. We don’t even know the right way to talk about ourselves.

                                    And I’ve been talking about, we got to say energy differently. And you’ve just opened my thought process, George, into all… No, no. We got to say we’re in the digital infrastructure industry. I’m not in the data center business. I’m in the digital infrastructure business, and here are all of my friends who are in it too. That is a great way to think about it.

George Rockett:            And that’s Yotta, Raymond. It’s going to try and create a stage that says, “This is the digital infrastructure industry.” And a yottabyte is the biggest amount of data that you can ever conceive, the largest number, 1,000 zettabytes. And it’s about that data, and everybody supports it. Everyone.

Raymond Hawkins:        Oh, it wasn’t you just mispronounced Toyota? It has actual meaning? I got it. Very good. Well, I’ll say this. I love the way you phrased it. I love the ambition in it. I love the passion for it. I used to tell people all the time, “Hey, if you struggle with what our industry does, just tell me what you want to quit doing on here. You want to stop ordering your plane tickets. You don’t want to get a car ride. You don’t want to watch a movie. Just tell me what you want to stop doing on here.” And that’s a cheeky way to say it. I love your approach, which is to say, “No, no. Our industry’s just got to mature and we’ve got to learn that we’re an industry providing an answer. We’re not 47 silos.”

George Rockett:            Absolutely. And you raised your phone there and said, “Oh, we just want this to work.” Over Christmas, I had some building work done. I had a lot of guests over in the house. And a trip switch went, the breaker switch, and the lights went out. None of the kids cared. Their phones were powered up. They’re on the phone. It’s like, now if that went out, it would be a completely different story.

Raymond Hawkins:        Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hear, hear. Hear, hear. Well, George, it’s been great having you. We really, really appreciate it. Thank you for spending a few minutes with us. We look forward to talking again. I enjoyed it so much. I’m going to have to get details from you on the first Yotta get-together, because I got to figure now that we got to be there. So we’ll get that offline from you. We definitely want to hear about that. And let’s put this one in the can and look forward to talking again and recording with you again in the future. Thank you, George.

George Rockett:            Brilliant. Raymond, thanks a lot for today. I love being interviewed. It’s great fun.

Raymond Hawkins:        Awesome.