Thought Leadership and Insight from Pure Data Centres

Martin Lynch

For this edition, we spoke to Martin Lynch CEO for Pure Data Centres Group.

Datacloud: What do you see for the future of the industry?
I think everywhere you look there just seems to be more and more data growth whether it’s self-driving cars, artificial intelligence or simply Pinterest and WhatsApp.  We just can’t seem to stop ourselves using, creating and distributing data, therefore the data centre industry just has to keep growing, until someone finds a better way to manage the information.  The challenges we face will be in the realms of power, regulation and edge connectivity and those are things we as an industry need to get more and more joined up on to make it easier for our customers to grow their business.  As an industry, we need to become more collaborative, not competitive, as when we reach large or hyper scale facilities, we need to focus more on how we back each other up in a region when there is simply not power availability for two competitors to deliver two data centres in a single region. Working those issues collaboratively would also speed up the level of reach, rather than building three new facilities in Sydney that all opened within 72 hours of each other.

Datacloud: What is the biggest opportunity in the industry today?
Data sovereignty and the cost of telecoms is going to push data centres closer to the end users into the so called ‘edge’ markets, so that opportunity is huge, but there’s also a new class of emerging edge markets driven largely by consumer content and mobile.  Those edge locations still need to be supported by world-class engineering and operational excellence. We simply can’t treat them as backwater locations and drop a Docker module in to treat them as second-class citizens, or they will not thrive. More importantly, in a lot of these markets there will only be one provider in town to start with, so availability and flexibility becomes more important especially as you move onto true emerging markets, and I don’t mean Wisconsin.   

Datacloud: What's one of your goals for the next year and how do you expect to achieve it?
Our goal is simple and unchanged. We set out to go to underserved markets, that’s what we’re doing but the drivers and needs of those markets and the additional places we need to reach are evolving every week. Last year at Datacloud there was a presentation on China, yet Africa is overtaking China by population and mobile volumes. We’ve been out in the Middle East since GITEX last year and have just been astounded at what is going on out there.  Our customers move quickly, but as an industry we tend to move slowly due to planning, permits and the problems of getting power at scale, but the answer is not generally a containerised solution simply because it doesn’t scale. Either there is a proper opportunity over time, or there is not. We’re fortunate to have sovereign wealth backing so can take a longer view than a REIT which has strict rules on generating returns on investment.  We think we have found the right balance allowing us to deliver world-class infrastructure, traditionally built, quickly and cost effectively. We’re a demand driven business and 2017 looks like being a transformational year for us in terms of locations, every day we’re swallowing from the fire hose of opportunity and it’s very exciting. 
Datacloud: What do you think matters most in the development of the industry and its effect on business and society?
I think the biggest issue is people, there are too many old folks in this industry and not enough ‘apprentices’ coming thorough the industry. Every time you go to these conferences I could probably name at least a third of the people who will be there, without even attending.  As an industry, we need to invest more in people, we need to recruit graduate engineers and teach them the process, procedure and delivery that the industry depends on, so the next generation of leaders emerges. 
This industry has some great individuals with incredible experience, and the challenge today is with equipment reliability being so high, there are very few serious issues, that the opportunity to see a real incident and learn from it is limited, so we need more incident rehearsals and practice and people just do not seem to invest in that.  It takes that experience of a disaster to know how to avoid it, just ask BA.  They run a global airline with an exceptional safety record yet they can’t keep one set of servers running anywhere in the world across six datacentres?   I think when the jury is out, we will find that it’s because nobody invested the few tens of thousands required in training for joint IT and infrastructure rehearsals, but instead opted for the bare minimum ‘sample rehearsal’. That’s not enough. That’s why we set up our own training centre in the UK so we can take engineers from emerging markets and run them through that process, get second line manufacturer and ITIL training, then apply that in a real facility to ensure they are clear on the expectations required by international customers in markets where these standards are just not practiced.  Too many people send expats out regionally. We need to invest in local skills transfer and communication to allow us to create a global expectation.

Pure Data Centres will be at the Datacloud Europe 2017 congress in Monaco June 6-8th. Meet them there