Kevin brings a wealth of knowledge and passion in this space, most recently serving as vice president of Operations at Yahoo!, where he led the build-out of their data centers and infrastructure. Before that he was a director of Operations at GeoCities, and prior to that he served as a senior software engineer at Marconi Dynamics.
Kevin is known as a hands-on leader with a great grasp on the issues in his field and a keen interest in increasing energy efficiency. One of the key ways he has approached that challenge was by closely measuring efficiency at each data center and using PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) as a key metric—a strategy that helped build more efficient data centers.
Timmons was hired to replace Mike Manos, who left Microsoft earlier this year to join data center real estate company Digital Realty Trust.]]>
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The group got its start on LinkedIn, a career-based social networking site and has expanded to its own Data Center Pulse blog, YouTube Channel, and starting next month, face-to-face interaction with a meeting in the auditorium at Sun’s Santa Clara campus, February 17-18 2009.
Data Center Pulse’s tough love for vendors
The data center user group landscape is a pretty crowded field, with AFCOM, The Uptime Institute, 7×24 Exchange, and others, but Nelson and Thiele were frustrated with traditional user groups’ inability to push vendors to change and improve their products.
“7×24 or AFCOM, both of those groups are highly influenced by the vendors,” Thiele said. “Good information is shared, but it isn’t used to influence the vendor community.”
Instead of conferences packed with marketing and business development staff from vendors, Thiele and Nelson sought to create an exclusive group of data center owners and operators only. Nelson and Thiele use LinkedIn’s career information to screen every candidate, rejecting applicants that don’t meet their end-user criteria (including me when I applied last month).
“I don’t want to bash the 7×24, AFCOM, or Uptime, but there seem to be less and less users at those conferences,” Nelson said. “We wanted to get a group together to talk about what we care about, and to influence the industry from the end user’s point of view.”
You’re probably thinking, “Non-vendor data center user group, created by two guys that work for large data center vendors?” But Nelson and Thiele, both data center managers themselves, say the group is not a platform for Sun or VMware at all. I can’t verify that at this point, since I haven’t figured out a way to breach the Data Center Pulse inner-sanctum, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
At the upcoming summit, Data Center Pulse plans to hash out and publish its top ten demands of the data center industry, and Nelson expects it to be a controversial manifesto. “Vendor marketing is driving the end user, instead of giving the end users what they’re asking for. The end users have information that isn’t getting back to vendors.”
Web 2.0 brings the data center community closer together
In these days of slashed corporate travel budgets and eco-awareness, it’s getting harder for companies to justify putting the data center team on a flight to Orlando or Vegas every few months. Instead, Data Center Pulse is using social networking, blogging and other online tools to create an interactive online community.
“With LinkedIn, everybody can touch everybody. You can publish a discussion that reaches 452 people that have jobs similar to yours in real-time,” Nelson said. “LinkedIn is how I stay in contact with everybody.
Nelson also plans to use Google Apps to be able to handle email, calendars, collaboration tools for the group, as well as Webex and Skype video conferencing. “Utilizing that technology to allow us to collaborate is very important. We’re using all the resources we can,” Nelson said.
These social network tools have enabled Data Center Pulse to reach so many so quickly.
“Response from the community so far has been really positive,” Nelson said. “There are no hidden agendas in this — it’s all about trying to drive the industry.”
For more on the evolution and importance of data center user groups, check out our Data Center Advisory Panel discussion.]]>
Some other quick details: The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development gave eBay a $27.3 million tax break; new state wages from the project over 10 years is projected at $23.7 million, and new state revenue for that same period is estimated at $109.1 million.
The part about 50% above median wage was what interested me. What was the Salt Lake County median wage? I wondered. The Deseret News story didn’t mention it, and as of this morning, I hadn’t yet read the Salt Lake Tribune story on eBay’s data center plans.
What I did find was a document on the GOED’s website. It’s a PDF document of the minutes of a GOED meeting in May 2007. It mentions another project by Air Liquide, a producer of industrial and medical gases. The project is bringing in 43 new jobs paying an average of $64,083, “which is 224% of the Salt Lake County median wage.”
From that I determined that the median wage in Salt Lake County is about $28,600, and that 50% above that — what eBay says will be the average for their jobs there — is about $42,900. That coincides with what the Salt Lake Tribune story said.
Just out of curiosity, I looked on the GOED site for anything regarding eBay, and found another PDF document of the minutes of a GOED meeting in June of this year. On that document it said the average salary for the eBay workers would be “over 175%” of the Salt Lake County median wage, which would be about $50,000.That’s considerably higher than $42,900.
So what gives? Data center employees are now only worth a little more than $40,000 a year?]]>
But should they take advantage of it, and does it matter?
In a survey this year of SearchDataCenter.com readers, we found that almost half (47%) of the 579 data center IT and facility employees we questioned had “no certifications to date.” Furthermore, more than two-thirds said that certification has neither been a factor in hiring, promotion, nor a salary increase/bonus.
So then the question becomes: Why bother with certification?
Those that offer it – such as ASHRAE, Marist College’s Institute for Data Center Professionals, and APC’s Data Center University – claim that the certifications help data center pros keep up-to-date on what’s going on in the industry. Here’s a blurb from the IDCP site:
…the mission of the IDCP is to support the professionals responsible for and working in data centers by providing a variety of credit-bearing and non-credit classes appropriate for employee development and training.
And from Data Center University:
The changing nature of data centers‚ and the technology that impacts them‚ makes it even more critical that employees remain up to date on the current theories and best practices for issues around topics of power‚ cooling‚ management‚ security‚ and planning.
There is no question that there is a knowledge gap when it comes to finding comprehensive data center pros. Pete Sacco, president of PTS Data Center Solutions, told me that he has a difficult time finding people with the breadth of knowledge in both IT and facilities management that he can hire. It usually requires education – either in academia or in the workforce – of computer technology and engineering, and he said that not too many people out there have it. And even though going to data center conferences and events that groups like AFCOM, The Uptime Institute, The Green Grid and Gartner put on can help, it may not provide that level of detailed education that you need to solve problems in the field.
Many of the data center managers out there started as overall facilities managers, and are now taking on the task of handling energy-sucking data centers, which are completely different animals from handling the HVAC in your typical office environment.
I think that although certification isn’t popping up now as being important, it may in the future. And even if it doesn’t, the knowledge required to handle these data centers is and will continue to be important, especially if that knowledge becomes rarer in the future than it already is now.]]>
Microsoft had already said they were looking in the area for a suitable data center location. It is expected to compare in size to one Microsoft is building in San Antonio, Texas, and employ about 75 high-tech workers at about $70,000 a pop.
Iowa has become a popular place lately for data center facilities, with Google already there building in Council Bluffs, which is right next to Omaha, Neb., about 120 miles west of Des Moines (which in turn is about 300 miles west of Chicago, for those unfamiliar with the Midwest). Why is it popular?
It also doesn’t hurt that Iowa is thirsty for data centers to the point of offering financial incentives to two of the largest companies in the country (Microsoft and Google) to go there. Do those incentives benefit both sides? Not everyone agrees.]]>
“We have not seen extreme measures being taken by IT organizations, such as hiring freezes, but we do expect to see enterprises take a more conservative and ‘wait-and-see’ approach to staffing for the rest of 2008,” said Gartner research vice president Lily Mok in a recent report.
Nonetheless, data center facility manager jobs are still in high demand. The New York Times reported on it recently and I’m still getting emails from Google’s recruiters asking if I know anybody looking for a job on with the Google facility engineering team.
So what gives? Is there a data center facilities job gap on the horizon? Is working knowledge of Ohm’s Law and computational fluid dynamics protection against a down economy?]]>