An industry roundtable on what’s new and what’s next for the industry
A few weeks ago, I got to join friends in the industry, including Jim Smith from Equinix and Joe Reele from Schneider Electric, on a webinar about data center construction, design and development. A lot of our conversation was devoted to modular design and the implications of it on the future of the data center industry.
For me, in all the trends and challenges discussed, everything came back to the ability to meet the demands of today’s market by being nimble. Compass’s well-honed modular design is an incredible advantage in a time such as we’re in now…one with tremendous growth in new markets.
Our conversation focused on three big areas: demand origins, keeping up with hyperscale growth and direction for the future.
New demand, from and in new places
Right now, we have a lot of the big players looking for ways to capitalize on new opportunities with new customers in new places. Tapping into secondary and tertiary markets will be key to fulfilling that demand. But entering a new or less well-established market can be a huge hurdle, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Further, in both the U.S. and in Europe, there has been no significant investment made in infrastructure in these secondary and tertiary markets, in some cases, since the late 90s.
Compass has spent the last 10 years fine-tuning its ability to serve the needs of today. Compass is in a unique position to deliver projects in these unchartered territories because of our modular approach which makes us more agile and nimble than some other developers. Our fully modularized approach makes it possible to enter new markets and deliver projects quickly.
Another source of growth in the North American market over the past several months has been an acceleration in demand from Chinese providers. To this point, they’ve been able to serve clientele from abroad, but regulation, performance needs and capacity constraints are creating a need for a U.S. presence. If they aspire to capture market share of U.S.-based customers, a local presence is a must.
Keeping up with hyperscale growth
Keeping up with hyperscale growth of the future also demands modularity to execute quickly, and modularity requires a major commitment. There is no dipping your toe in the water or half measures. There are plenty of cadavers on the road to modularity, which can get really complex the further down you go. Many who venture down that road get overwhelmed and give up.
Compass is probably in the minority in the data center sector for having a sizeable R&D budget and a Chief Innovation Officer dedicated to fine tuning the efficiencies and advantages we deliver. That is the requisite level of dedication.
For Compass, a lot of time and capital are invested in innovation. We look at innovation not from the macro level but in a more micro way…getting down to the unit or subcomponent level rather than the system level. We really try to understand the manufacturing nuances within our supply chain in an obnoxiously detailed way. By striving to be fully integrated with our supply chain, at the subcomponent
level, we can more closely control project loads, schedules, and commitments. The closer you are to your supply chain, the more effectively you can, essentially, create a very systematic, almost manufacturing-like approach to data center development and delivery.
Changes going forward
At this point, small, medium, and large enterprises all have some form of a cloud strategy, with implementation a work in progress. It will probably take another couple of years before we see stabilization, standards emerge, harmonization of hardware designs and other things to help customers achieve economies of scale. Along the way, expect to see some level of customization, like specific applications to meet specific niche markets needs where they reside due to regulatory and risk constraints.
But we’re still an industry at its infancy. Some people are still entering, and the pace hasn’t quite been established. No one’s out of breath yet so we’ll continue to chase after opportunity – developing as we have been to meet demand – for the foreseeable future.
Chief Technology Officer
Adil Attlassy serves as Compass’ Chief Technical Officer. Mr. Attlassy is widely respected as a thought leader in IT infrastructure who has been at the forefront of data center trends over the past two decades. Prior to joining Compass, Adil served as the General Manager of Global Site and Network Acquisition for Microsoft. Before Microsoft, Mr. Attlassy held the position of Chief Development Officer for IO. In that role, he was directly responsible for global site selection and development, and he oversaw the company’s data center procurement and supply chain engagement. Prior to IO, Adil held executive positions for Digital Realty Trust in the U.S., UK and Singapore. Mr. Attlassy holds a DUT from Institut de Technologie, Mulhouse, France, a BS in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Los Angeles and an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management.