Carolinas Data Center Summit Preview: High Expectations about Significant Growth in NC & SC, Says STULZ’ Dave Meadows
CHARLOTTE, NC — David C. Meadows II has worked in data center cooling since 1999. He is currently the Director of Industry, Standards, and Technology with Stulz-ATS, a manufacturer of precision air conditioning, humidification, and de-humidification products specifically designed for the data center. STULZ is the world’s leading solution provider of energy efficient temperature and humidity management technology, specifically for mission critical applications. Previously David has served as both the Design Engineering Manager and the Applications Engineering Manager at Stulz. David holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. David will be a featured speaker at CapRE’s Carolinas Data Center Summit, and in preparation, CapRE connected with him recently to glean insight into his latest perspective, opinion and activity.
CAPRE: Thanks for chatting with us today, Dave. Let’s talk about the Carolinas. Are you bullish on this market?
Meadows: We have high expectations about significant growth there. We are seeing more data centers built in Tier II cities, where they’re not the big NFL cities, but are significant in population. They’re not Chicago or New York City.
CAPRE: What’s to thank for this trend?
Meadows: The reason is that the Edge continues to grow. We are doing more and more compute and analytics away from the hyperscale Cloud data centers. Several folks have some thoughts on why this is.
CAPRE: So why is Charlotte in particular attracting such demand?
Meadows: Within the Carolinas, Charlotte in particular is a hub, due to the universities and research there. That’s a significant contributor to that particular market. And we see a lot of other indicators that make this area attractive to data center providers – relatively inexpensive electric rates and real estate, a lack of regular natural disasters, and a highly educated workforce nearby.
CAPRE: What challenges exist to doing business in this region?
Meadows: Not seeing may challenges except that there’s isn’t any hydro-electric power nearby, which can draw the rates down. The climate is a little bit warmer, so as far as your ability to employ economizers, you have fewer hours per year that you’re not on mechanical cooling. That requires more energy, depending on what type of cooling you’re using. That’s a very small negative though.
CAPRE: We’re looking forward to seeing you in Charlotte for CAPRE’s upcoming Carolinas Data Center summit. What topics or themes will be most salient during this conference?
Meadows: Most of the things would be less technical but very important. Speed to market is very important in a growing data center economy, because the first guy that’s up and running has a built-in natural advantage. As demand becomes greater, the guys that do it quicker have that advantage. There are also questions about the natural size of a data center in the Carolinas – what does it look like? Is it an Edge type of data center, which is probably somewhat smaller, or is it going to be larger in terms of compute demand?
CAPRE: What about 5G? What will attendees be buzzing about with regards to that?
Meadows: The smaller markets will have some interesting challenges there. It’ll be much easier to make a 5G urban environment than a 5G rural environment. Charlotte is a city but it is surrounded by rural areas.
CAPRE: What economic trendlines are you tracking, such as rising interest rates or a slowing economy? Are you preparing for any contingencies along these lines?
Meadows: You know, we’re struggling to keep up with demand. We’re not worried that the money won’t be there. Our biggest concerns is that we in the OEM community may slow down the natural growth of this industry just by not being able to produce the amount of equipment that’s needed. We’re doing our bit, by continuing to expand, but we’ve run out of space. So to address that, we’re already leased another facility in Dayton, TN to ramp up and produce equipment. And we need it. We don’t want to be the folks that make a data center take 9 months to build, rather than 6 months. It’s a good problem to have, but at the end of the day, it’s still a problem.
CAPRE: What are you looking forward to about CAPRE’s Carolinas Data Center Summit?
Meadows: I’ve done a lot of these events. The most valuable aspect of it for me is networking. A lot of it is catching up with folks that I met three or four years ago somewhere like San Francisco, and we’re keeping up now, trading solutions back and forth. Networking is a great thing to come out of the CAPRE Data Center Series.
CAPRE: What about on the content side? Are you looking forward to any aspect of the panels?
Meadows: I always like the fact there’s always an effort made by CAPRE to put competing ideas out there. CAPRE doesn’t tend to stack panels with people that agree. And that’s valuable, because the audience likes to hear disagreement. It makes it more exciting – if everyone’s just up there nodding their heads, it’s not as exciting.
CAPRE: So, bottom line. What is STULZ doing to maintain its market position and come out on top?
Meadows: What we’re doing is playing both ends of the spectrum. We’re building big – such as a computer room air handler that does a megawatt of cooling by itself. This is my 20th year in the industry and I never thought I’d see anything that large being utilized – but the hyperscalers, that’s what they want. They want massive units for cooling and large air flow rates.
On the other end of the spectrum, we’re very actively pursuing the micro data center. We have product that’s fully developed and includes everything from security, lighting and fire suppression and even direct liquid to chip cooling within the micro data center. Within these tiny cabinets, we can put in up to 80 KW of IT heat load. We’re building in the belief that 5G is going to revolutionize a lot of the aspects of daily life — medical, autonomous vehicles, etc. Just like the technology we have today that would have looked like sci fi to me as a kid, I think it’ll be the same kind of leap in the next seven years or so.
CAPRE: Got it. Thanks a lot Dave. We’ll see you in Charlotte!
Hear more from Dave at CAPRE’s Second Annual Carolinas Data Center Summit, May 14, 2019. He will participate in the panel “Evolution, Engineering & Connectivity of the Data Center Supply Side: What Type of Product (Hyperscale, Colocation, Edge) is in the Pipeline, and How Will it Be Wired?” from 1:30 pm to 2:05 pm.