"We need to stick our heads above the parapet"
Data Centres didn’t really exist when I started my career. Sure – there was infrastructure, but, in my world that was supporting Telco and investment banking trading floors. But now that Digital Infrastructure has evolved to such an extent that it underpins absolutely everything - there will undoubtedly be more focus on the data centre industry.
What’s happening in this digital revolution is broad with, for example, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, social networking, and the internet of things. Where oil was known as Black Gold (and sometime coal in the industrial revolution), data has become the Binary Platinum and it’s reasonable to predict Governments will feel they have an obligation to take a greater interest beyond taxation and data privacy which currently grabs the headlines.
I've represented the industry at the EU Commission in Brussels – so have some insight into the working of institutions when it comes to regulation. When we look at involvement from the UK Government and the EU Commission.
They've already started to tinker - mainly in the areas of Environmental Impact and Energy Efficiency, which was arguably necessary to accelerate good behaviours from the lowest performers.
That said, I had an interesting experience when representing the industry at the EU Commission – where draft regulations were being proposed around volume server and storage efficiency. At one juncture the EU guidelines could have looked very different to the US guidelines – for the exact same server operating in different territories! The unintended consequences for the drive to improve energy efficiency would have been to the detriment of server reliability, which if not caught, could have had profound longer-term consequences.
DCiRN is important as the industry needs to become more responsible in terms of sharing information on incidents – If we start doing this ourselves – and can demonstrate we’re are doing a good job – then, when Governments inevitably start getting more involved - we can influence their approach to incident reporting (ensuring it’s performed for the benefit of the industry and the consumer – and not a painful exercise that’s counter-productive)
Without industry input or consultation then future regulatory measures could be put in place where the outcomes could be damaging, stifle innovation, stifle growth and generally not fit for purpose. An holistic approach is required considering the application on the server all the way through to the data centre itself.
DCiRN is an important initiative, not just to me, but for the industry as a whole. We need to stick our heads above the parapet and prepare to tackle the inevitable legislative and regulatory frameworks proactively. When these initiatives gather momentum, they are unstoppable, but it is possible to influence both the direction and outcomes to ensure they better serve industry as a whole.