State of the Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Industry: Leading Ladies of Mission Critical Talk Innovation in Sustainability & Finance
LEESBURG, VA — State of the Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Industry: Past, Present and Future was the first panel discussion at CAPRE’s two-day Mid-Atlantic Data Center Summit, including the inaugural Women of Mission Critical Data Center Summit. And it dug deep into the perspective of a handful of leading women from around the region, largely focusing on areas of innovation and major trendlines.
Near the panel discussion’s conclusion, Moderator Greer Aviv, Senior Vice-President for Investor Relations at Iron Mountain looked to panelist Lisa Lingerfelt, Business Unit Leader at DPR Construction, to share her unique perspective. “Let’s turn to more construction-related questions,” Aviv suggested. “Where do you see the industry going, with regards to the data center, over the next five years? Is it growing, slowing down, or something else?”
“We always look at the market. Where is it going, and/or is it going to slow down?” replied Lingerfelt. “In terms of when that might happen, I think that it’s really two to three years out, and I think that we will continue to see things grow [until then]. In terms of what’s changing, I agree with other panelists today who have said that, that from their perspective, customers aren’t [as chiefly concerned about] price. It’s a big factor depending on budgets, but really speed to market is the big factor. I also think that where we see the market growing, with innovation and design, is how we can provide more connectivity.”
“Speaking to innovation, can you provide some examples of these new technologies you’re seeing in data centers?” asked Aviv, as a follow-up to Lingerfelt, who then drew upon many lenses in response.
“I think a lot of it is really about customers trying to innovate that cooling process – where it is, for example,” she replied. “The power obviously is also very significant, looking at significantly. There are definitely a lot of advocates for more efficiency, in terms of power. And of course efficiency when it comes to speed to market and staying on schedule. Prefabrication is something that we look at a lot, and it depends on the schedule of your end-user, obviously.”
Next, Aviv looked to another panelist, Rachel Wilson, Chief Financial Officer of Iron Mountain Data Centers, for a different perspective. “Rachel, data centers are one of the most capital-intensive industries out there,” remarked Aviv. “Can you talk about the trends you’re seeing with funding development?”
“Absolutely, but I’d like to return to the concept of sustainability and what it means in terms of our duty,” began Wilson. “In the world of data centers, sustainability is actually becoming a really huge area of innovation for those of us in finance. A lot of people don’t think about that. We have something called a Green Power Pass at Iron Mountain. We have 100% green power for our data centers, but we’ve actually come up with a product where we can transfer these green power credits to our customers. This is something a lot of customers will pay money for – sometimes they duplicate the efforts, even if the facility itself is green.”
Then, Wilson returned the original question. “As a capital-intensive industry, what trends are we seeing?” she reiterated. “Well we all saw the announcement that Equinix was bringing in outside capital. So you can see that sometimes private money capital, particularly pension funds or infrastructure funds money, can lower the cost or capital or at least impact how the cost of capital works. We’re seeing that trend in finance. And we’re seeing it in hyperscale now – So, is there a difference? Is there a way to monetize that on these hyperscale contracts? This is definitely an area where a lot of innovation is being done and there is a quest for access to more capital among all of our competitors.”
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