Up-Close with QTS: Sean Baillie, Chief of Staff, Talks Disruptive Technologies in DCIM
by Josh Anderson
DULLES, VA – Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is a foundational, if dynamic, element of any Data Center Summit held by CAPRE, and that’s why CAPRE’s 2019 Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Forecast East featured a panel titled Innovations in DCIM: How AI, IoT & Blockchain Are Changing the Operations Game. This featured a snapshot into the state of DCIM – which is changing faster than any single discussion can measure. But that didn’t stop six esteemed panelists from blowing the topic wide open. Below, we highlight some comments from Sean Baillie, Chief of Staff at QTS Data Centers about all of these buzzwords.
“Sean, how are these technologies, plus IoT & IIoT, really engendering a better user experience in the data center environment?” asked Moderator Patrick South, Vice President of Development at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, who didn’t have to provide anymore prompting for Baillie to share quite a bit of insight.
“I’ll take it from the point of view of our customers,” began Baillie. “QTS is a data center operator with a large footprint that spells bits and pieces of space, power and cooling, etc. to our customers. So when we think about DCIM and the associated technologies that you can stack on top of DCIM, we have to be careful that we’re not looking at the entire building, with AI machinery and how this works. For the entire building, we have to federate. Each one of our customers wants to know about their installation. And they’re interested in understanding what DCIM has to offer, which is essentially power, cooling and sensor data. That’s important, but it doesn’t necessarily allow you to anticipate business challenges or avoid CapEx spend.”
Baillie then shared how QTS has built what they call a Software-Defined Platform. “If we want to reach beyond DCIM and get into an AI-machinery environment that benefits our customers, we have to self-develop on top of that baseline,” he explained. “So think of DCIM as the baseline. If you want to go beyond that, you need to get into areas like asset tracking, asset tracking. Where is my physical infrastructure, and where are my servers? You know those capabilities. Which clouds am I connected to? We’ve developed those capabilities.”
This is all custom hardware and software that has AI and machine learning built in, Baillie shared. “So you can do historical trending to see where you’re at today across one or all of your platforms,” he continued. “And you’re getting fed information around the power consumption, atmospherics, who’s coming in and out of your area, which clouds am I in and what is the health of those Clouds, from a resource utilization perspective? There’s a whole range of thing that fit into the AI and machine learning arena that QTS has been involved with for our customers.”
“When you ask about IoT, I think IoT means an explosion of data as it relates to the data center. So you’re going to see more storage capacity and the ability to look into that storage capacity and figure out what’s going on. That’s the QTS perspective on machine learning and AI,” Baillie summarized, before segueing to perhaps the most opaque of all these technological advancements — blockchain.
“On Blockchain, our view is that Blockchain has a use-case that’s been proven in crypto. And it has the potential for use-cases that can be proven at some point in the future,” he mused. “One specific example would be DDoS attacks. so a DDoS attack is a many-to-one or many-to-few attack, meant to overwhelm resources and stop computing. Blockchain has the potential to turn that into a many-to-many attack. And it’s got detection and mitigation strategies. So you can see that type of thing fitting into a distributed framework, and we’re seeing noises about that.”
“So as a data center operator, if we get an offer from a supplier out there that say look, we can help you guys implement this on behalf of customers, and layer on an extra layer of security, and sell it to your customers, we’ll absolutely say yes,” he stressed, concluding his comments. “We’re ambivalent about Blockchain at the moment – we’re waiting for the use-cases to actually provide value in the market and for the people to want to pay for it.”
For more coverage of this panel, check out an earlier CAPRE Insider Report: Innovations in DCIM: How Will Blockchain and AI Change the Game?