Q&A with Element Critical’s Jason Green: The Days of 80% of Clients Utilizing 25% of their Infrastructure Are Over
by Josh Anderson
NEW YORK, NY — Jason Green is CTO for Element Critical. Jason brings 15+ years of hands-on and management experience in the technology and data center industries. He has worked with, and for, all sizes of companies. Prior to joining Ken Parent to launch Element Critical in 2016, Jason successfully built business and mission-critical teams in solutions engineering, managed services, engineering, operations, construction, security, and corporate strategy for multiple private and provider-based data centers globally. Jason co-founded Vantage Data Centers in Santa Clara, creating and running engineering, operations, construction, solutions engineering, as well as mergers and acquisitions. He assisted organizations in leading the delivery of four net-new Tier 3+ facilities and 50MW+ of customer solutions in 24 months. Subsequent to Vantage, Jason served as Vice President of Corporate Strategy at both Sentinel Data Centers and Gexpro (Rexel USA) before co-founding a boutique data center, IT, and energy consultation firm performing over $10BN of data center acquisition assessment in 2016. Below, CapRE connected with Green to learn more about his firm, perspective and secrets for success.
CapRE: Thanks for chatting with us today. What’s been keeping the team at Element Critical busy lately?
Green: We have a lot going on. We have two we’re in the process of building out right – Vienna, Virginia & a data center in Sunnyvale. We’re deploying capacity and we are bringing them online.
CapRE: And what is your business all about?
Green: Our business is rooted in a solutions-engineering approach. We don’t have a formalized product. We look at every deal on a unique basis and that means we get to work very closely with our clients. It’s fun to architect a solution that’s specifically what they’re looking for.
In parallel with our two build-outs, we are in full-on acquisition mode. We have a very active board of directors, and we have a lot of capital that has to be deployed, everything from single assets to portfolio acquisitions are keeping us busy. We’re evaluating their markets and the products and everything in the middle – it’s a lot going on.
CapRE: So with all of this exciting activity, what are you most focused on?
Green: We are in a relatively early stage of this company. And the goal is to grow and create a sizeable business. The acquisition piece is especially compelling because it allows us to not only add more physical locations but add more capacity and diversity in the business. It’s challenging because our model is one in which we buy on existing data centers. I’ve built plenty of greenfield in my past but the ability to acquire a new facility and bring it to the market, those are great challenges that are interesting and driving us forward. The integration of those opportunities is definitely the great opportunity.
CapRE: So let’s talk more about the challenges inherent to your business model.
Green: Our challenges fundamentally are similar to anyone else’s. Our clients by definition have very different requirements and needs that, in our opinion, require us to stay focused on think intently about how to support them and give them actionable solutions. That challenge doesn’t go away and it’s a good one to have – it’s an exciting challenge.
CapRE: How about on the acquisitions side?
Green: Of course. Another challenge is making sure we make the right decision in our acquisitions. It’s fundamentally very easy to say that I’m just going to buy something. You have to buy something that is not only beneficial to the overall portfolio but also requires some risk and some foresight. That’s fun daunting. If you can’t lease an asset you have a real problem on your hands. Being thoughtful and measured makes sure we are in a position that is supportable.
CapRE: How has the industry changed during your career?
Green: The industry has changed a lot. If you look at a five-year run, all of the obvious things apply. The evolution of hyperscale has dramatically changed how we build. That’s significant. The significant increase in utilization due to different IT platforms, and the way that corporate IT functions is now different. We look at data centers that require your ability to deliver resources on a more consistent scale than they have been before.
The days of 70%-80% of your clients utilizing 25%-35% of their infrastructure doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just not the case. We have clients in there routinely exceeding 50%-60% utilization. That requires a new process for how to run a building. And those are drivers. The emergence of technology such as blockchain or private cloud to hybrid cloud solution are also downward pressures on not only how you build but also how you operate a data center. We’ve been dealing with co-mingled densities for a long time, but now it’s more acute and more interesting than maybe ever before.
CapRE: So tell our readers why your model is primed for success now. What about our industry or about your firm is going to get you across the finish line?
Green: I’ve been around for awhile. And I believe that there are certain resources that are intangibles that you can’t just dial up. It’s not about just finding the magic bullet for the right data center. I think it’s a combination of things. When my partner and I came together to buy this business and build it out and re-brand it, it was with an expressed consent that we had the ability to do things in a way that was compatible across the executive level and how a company is run. We needed to be adaptable and flexible. Ken, my partner, is exceptional at deal structure, economics and finance. He can be pliable enough to understand why any deal might require a thought process in how we model it and pre-form it and how money flows through it. Not just from investment perspective but also a product perspective.
Our success is contingent on our ability to be thoughtful about how we view buildings fitting into our portfolio. A building that works for us may not work for another firm and vice versa. But our success is defined by staying true to our model and finding assets that work from an existing resource perspective, to meet our client’s requirements, and more than anything, the ability to remain flexibility. We want to have conversations with clients that are not rooted in limitation. Our clients come to us with expectations that we can think about translationally. Let’s look at what you’re deploying, how it’s utilized, will it grow vertically or horizontally, etc. Getting that out can help us take a fixed asset and make it more adaptable than it would be at first glance.
CapRE: Indeed. Thanks for your insight, Jason. We’ll see you at a CapRE Data Center Summit soon!
Element Critical owns and operates data centers in the heart of Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California, and Northern Virginia. Their Tier III hybrid IT ready facilities are carrier-neutral, network-rich, concurrently maintainable and available in a variety of deployment sizes and densities. Element Critical cares as much about the people we serve as the servers we house. They offer a data center experience that brings solutions engineering and customer service out of the shadows and into the spotlight.