Easter-Owens’ Hector Diaz: Miniature Data Centers, Modular Server Enclosures Setting the Pace in Advance of CAPRE’s Construction, Design, Engineering Evolution Summit

DENVER, CO — Hector Diaz is the Mission Critical Director at Easter-Owens. He is a Senior Business Leader with 15+ years’ experience designing, deploying, and operating mission critical infrastructure. He is an industry expert on sorting through data center construction, expansion, and lease options. At Easter-Owens, he leads all aspects of our Mission Critical practice. Prior to joining Easter-Owens, Hector served as a Director at CBRE, managing international data centers. Previous employers include HP and Oracle where he oversaw a million square foot data center portfolio. Diaz will be a featured speaker at CAPRE’s Construction, Design, Engineering Evolution Summit in Denver, August 13. We connected with Diaz in anticipation, to learn about the latest demand drivers in the data center construction industry.

CAPRE: Talk to us about what you do and your recent activity.

Diaz: I manage the mission critical practice at Eastern-Owens Electric CO. We’re seeing a lot of activity related to three areas, where there’s an intersection between mission critical and the other things we’ve been doing for over 60 years. There’s a continued trend toward using pre-fabricated modules to accelerate the buildout of large colocation data center facilities and hyperscale data center buildouts. This is creating great opportunities for companies like ours, as we fabricate metal buildings and integrate electrical systems within. It’s a great marriage for us.

CAPRE: What about on the other end of the spectrum – what activity are you seeing on the micro side?

Diaz: We’re also seeing a lot of activity in the miniature data centers – we’re seeing them in form factors that are 20 feet long to 40 feet long, anywhere from 4-6 servers to maybe 10 or 12. We’re getting some requests for containerized data centers, and there seems to be a flurry of activity in that area, both in the context of edge computing and the context of corporate IT groups that need to turn space in their buildings from a small impromptu data center into revenue-generating space such as what’s going on at hospitals. These are all creating opportunities.

Hector Diaz, Mission Critical Director, Easter-Owens

CAPRE: I believe there is a third bucket of activity – is that correct?

Diaz: Yes. Another area where we’re seeing a lot of activity in is providing enterprise with what we’re calling Modular Server Enclosures. The reason that there’s a demand for these is stranded infrastructure (both power and cooling). This happens when enterprises are overly optimistic in the design criteria for a new data center build out. I recently saw a company plan for a density of 8 kilowatts per rack. They built a data center that provided about 8 megawatts of power. They ran out of space and were not able to use all of the power and cooling infrastructure they had installed because the average rack in their data center was consuming less than 5 KW per rack. They effectively stranded about 3 megawatts of power and cooling, at a cost of somewhere around $15 Million USD per megawatt.

We’ve come up with this concept called a Modular Server Enclosures. It is basically a metal building about 50 long, with a long row of IT racks. The idea is that we can drop-ship one of these buildings to a site much quicker than an enterprise might be able to get permitting to build a larger building for.

CAPRE: What are you looking about CAPRE’s upcoming Denver Data Center Summit?

Diaz: I’m going to be leading a panel titled “The Speed of New Construction: What are Real and Fake Timeframes to Delivering New Product?” We’re going to have some hyperscalers on that panel and someone from a large colo and someone from an enterprise. We’ll explore what they’re doing and find out how important it is to them to deploy faster. We’ll then validate (or not) some of what we’re seeing in terms of the large demand for pre-fabricated modules to help accelerate that construction. I’m also really looking forward to the professional networking. There are so many great opportunities at CAPRE data center summits for that – to chat with 20 or 30 people, without having to schedule 20 or 30 meetings all over the country.

CAPRE: What is unique about the Denver data center arena?

Diaz: Well, contrary to what some locals think about how big this market is, it really is what we’d call a Tertiary market. Denver is not one of the major centers like Ashburn or Phoenix or the Bay Area. It’s certainly developing though. One of the items that is a strength is the network connectivity, and you’d think we’d be expecting more corporate build-outs or colos. But I think one reason we’re not attracting more business is that we’re not creating the economic incentives to attract more of that industry.

CAPRE: Tell us more about that.

Diaz: At one time, I was talking a lot to trade associations that represent a lot of tech companies in Colorado. The President at the time was trying to talk to the Governor and others in Colorado about the importance of incentives to attract technology, and I found it interesting that, when people would try to attract business here, their focus was on why everyone would want to live in Colorado – because of the “cool” factor. We have great public transit, and all this nature. But the line that this person came up with was, “We need you to promote more tech, and less elk.”

In particular, the taxation of the equipment in data centers is an area where other regions are doing so much. We do have a healthy community of colos here and there has been some exciting activity in Colorado Springs, for example Wal-Mart has built a data center there and SAP is building out one as well.

CAPRE: Thank you for your time, Hector. We’ll see you in Denver.

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