As Director of Strategy and Development for STACK Infrastructure, Tim Hughes understands the needs and daily operations of hyperscale data centers better than most. On a daily basis, he leverages his experience in technology infrastructure, strategy, operations, and program management to develop solutions that meet the specific needs of his hyperscale clients.
What are those needs exactly? In our recent conversation with Tim, he walked us through how he focuses on understanding the specific needs of his hyperscale clients to better provide increased speed and greater capacity.
The Spectrum of Hyperscale Data Centers
Tim puts hyperscale users on a spectrum: on one end there are first-party applications driving data center demand, and on the other end are third parties driving demand.
What that means is that if a data center is providing cloud services — meaning that it has customers who are external to the business — it’s on the end where a third party is driving demand. Alternatively, if internal applications are primarily driving demand, then that's on the other end of the spectrum.
Tim explains that understanding which end of the spectrum the hyperscale center is on determines the ability to predict future demand. With first-party applications driving data center demand, someone can actually look at data points like usage rates and historic statistics to understand how the application works and grows and gain insights that help improve performance.
On the other hand, third-party applications can come with demands that data centers aren’t currently aware of. They can be running smoothly one day, but then instantaneously speed up and need more capacity the next day for reasons no one could’ve anticipated.
Providing Flexibility and Speed
Understanding this reality and preparing to meet the different demands of different hyperscale data centers is what makes Tim and his team so effective. Because they can look at the specific needs of each data center and clarify whether they’re operating in a predictable or unpredictable environment, they can plan accordingly — or at least they can know when they’re in a position where any plan might need to get thrown out the window.
This situation demands flexibility from all involved. Some data centers may have extreme clarity in what drives their demand, making for fewer last-minute changes. But data centers that rely on third parties have to expect that demand may vary, and they may not be able to see that change in demand coming. Hence, flexibility is key and maintaining an emphasis on speed is crucial.
It’s no secret that data center growth has continued to skyrocket over the last five to ten years (1Q 2021 has shown yet another period of growth across the globe). And with that growth comes an increase in the need to have a team that can handle the speed of expansion. Yet, not all hyperscale centers are capable of growing as quickly as they want to with the current size team that they have. That’s where someone like Tim comes in.
One of his goals is to buttress the existing internal self-perform capacity of hyperscale centers with an external team that can help carry the weight. Whether the gap is in construction, sales, marketing, or something else, Tim and his team are always looking to step in and fill whatever roles are needed to facilitate the rapid expansion of hyperscale centers and their capacity.
While more hands on deck may help a ship sail faster, there’s still an issue of certainty. A hyperscale center may be excited to have someone like Tim and his team to help, but they still have to ask: Can we trust where we’re going, and do we know if we’re going to get there?
As Tim shares, understanding the different needs of different hyperscale clients is crucial to serving them in the most efficient and effective manner. Walking into a project with eyes wide open, understanding the overall market, and intuiting the individual needs of different data centers are three invaluable traits that make someone like Tim, and anyone else like him, poised for success.
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