A Visit with Bruce Myatt, Founder and Chair of Critical Facilities Roundtable

I have attended several Critical Facilities Roundtable (CFRT) events in the past. CFRT is a group of data center users who share industry trends, technologies, practices, and friendship. Their meeting is usually held at a data center site, and after a few presentations, a tour is conducted at that site. Because of the group’s nature, the participants usually have the rare opportunity to tour at a production data center, such as Yahoo’s (hosted in Digital Realty Trust).

I had exchanged a few words with Bruce before but had not had a chance to sit down and talk to him. So I caught him at his new office in San Francisco right after his return from two business trips. In spite of the busy schedule of his new position, he was nice enough to give me time to interview him.

Bruce Myatt at his office

The following is a summary of our conversation.

CFRT was founded in 2003 by four people, including Bruce. The other three people left for one reason or another, and Bruce is now in charge. CFRT is a group of professional data center users and providers, and its purpose is to share new technologies and practices as reflected in the members’ day-to-day operations. The group’s focus is on Silicon Valley rather than national.

Data Center Pulse (DCP) is somewhat similar to CFRT, but DCP members interact via websites like LinkedIn, and CFRT has a hands-on approach.

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Classification of Data Center Operations Technology (OT) Management Tools
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CFRT consists of several committees and subgroups, and most are facilities focused; there are committees for the high-density data center, legacy data centers, and energy. However, a recent creation of the technology group has begun to change the focus and make it more diversified, concerning itself with IT issues, including cloud computing, virtualization, and high energy efficiency in server and other IT equipment technologies. The technology group is formed by a team from the previous AFCOM Northern California chapter, as I have reported before.

Over the seven to eight years since CFRT’s founding, a lot has changed in the data center marketplace. Of course, the data center field has expanded tremendously, but the technology and operational advancements are the most noteworthy. At its formation, CFRT people knew how the changes would take place, and the changes materialized, and they are happy with the result. Technology has changed so much that the way data centers are designed, constructed, and operated is completely different today.

I asked Bruce if there was an energy crisis back then. He said that the energy crisis for data centers did not come to the surface until the EPA report in 2007. And since then, it has become one of the most important issues for the data center market.

For the next five to ten years, advancements in technology will make data centers smaller yet very efficient in both energy and throughputs. A container-based data center is a test bed for that. It is standardized in form, efficient, and mobile.

Bruce predicted that every data center would be equipped with measuring and monitoring functions, based on something like SNMP, to report its minute-by-minute status.

As for one of the most-discussed subjects of IT and facilities integration, he thinks that tools like HP’s OpenView and BMC’s Patrol can collect data from both IT and facilities sides now. The question is how you use the collected data for control. This is not a technology question but an operational issue. His funny examples are whether we want to play music on a refrigerator or set an oven timer via a cell phone. This is a good example of “do you really want to do it if you have the technology to enable it?” Unless the data collected from both camps is put to use for a real reason, the situation would remain the same.

We also talked about LEED, Energy Star for data centers, Tier, and international markets for data centers. But I will blog on them in the future.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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