Garry Connolly says Data Center Industry is No DotCom Bubble

Oct 9, 2017
by Josh Anderson

DUBLIN, IRELAND — Last week, CapRE’s 2nd Annual Ireland and Emerging European Markets Data Center Summit kicked off with remarks by Garry Connolly, Chairman at GconnTec & President at Host in Ireland & Cochair of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Awareness Co. He started off his keynote address by discussing digital disruption, and then segued into the some comments about our increasingly connected planet. Below, he speaks out the confidence he has in the data center industry as a whole, due to an impending explosion of compute and storage on the horizon.

“So. There are a lot of skeptics around this, even in our industry,” he began. “You can look out and say, I’ve been here before. I lost a fortune on… in 1999, for example. It was the greatest thing ever, but I lost a fortune. There’s a lot of skepticism. We had billions of dollars, remember, in data centers once before. The problem we had though was that we knew we had to build centers.”

“Then we gave people [phones]. We said, you know what, go and knock yourself out,” he continued. “Send off as many text messages as you can. Even do a little ping and send someone a happy new year. It’ll explode. But the amount of data created by one of these is so miniscule that it actually doesn’t rank. The second thing is that we realized that if you’re really clever, and you deserved to get an upgrade, then we gave you a Blackberry. In 1999 was the first Blackberry.”

Audience Members at CapREs 2nd Annual Ireland and Emerging European Markets Data Center Summit Listen to Garry Connolly Speak

So it was something to be built, said Connolly. “$6.5 billion of new worth alone was invested in data centers,” he recalled. “Then the first Blackberry RIM was created, which wasn’t even called Blackberry then, it was Research in Motion. So if you’re skeptical and cynical, then the devices that are generating data now, like the item in my pocket, someone told me that it’s 26,000 times more processing power and memory than before. 26,000 times more.”

Connolly said it’s not rocket science. “Every time a new phone comes out, and you get a new megapixel over 28, and it’s double the amount of pixels in a picture taken last year, you’ll need more storage and compute,” he explained. “So it’s not just the devices though. It’s not just the millennials that have changed the whole DNA profile of the brain either.”

Next, Connolly wanted to talk about someone who was “a terrible engineer.” He was also a terrible student. “His name was Mr. Maslow. Professor Maslow,” he revealed. “He was the dude that examined 4.7 billion years that the earth has been around. He said, okay, there have been 4.7 billion years worth of homo sapiens. And he looked at all the different ways these people have gathered together. The hunters, the gatherers, the whole lot.”

“Maslow worked out that there was a hierarchy of needs,” he elucidated. “I want to be warm, I want to be fed, I want to be appreciated. He realized that this was what was going to make us happy. But what he forgot was that Amazon, AliBaba were going to come out. These companies that were going to redefine how our brains work, and redefine how we were going to interface with the earth. So with these new companies, there’s a new hierarchy of needs. I know this to be true. I know this. Why do I know this? Because I have a 14 year old girl…”

Stay tuned to CapRE’s Insider Reports for more comments from Connolly, in which he will finish this personal anecdote, as well as discuss how the ways we communicate are changing rapidly, crossing cultural and generational divides.

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