Data Center events like Uptime are great to connect with people in the industry, but rarely can you dive into difficult topics in hallway conversations. People are constantly being interrupted by vendors who are looking to exchange business cards and sell their wares. It is actually quite funny sometimes when a vendor will start talking to an executive and not know who they are talking to. "you work for company X (top 5 data center operator WW), what do you do." DC executive responds, "I work on data center construction (yeh, he runs the whole god damn team)." Vendor, "oh, here is my card, we do blah, blah, blah."
Recognizing some of the top data center thought leadership was coming into town, some friends and I have spent the last month organizing a data center social to allow a dozen people to spend hours sharing stories, looking for where there is a common ground, and all without vendors.
Who was there? Sorry, no specific names, but trust me any vendor would have dreamed to be in the room. A couple of the people there are keynote speakers. A good amount have VP titles or should. The people run tens of thousands of servers for web critical infrastructure. Many people had worked for each other at previous companies which helps create the glue between the group. One person who would qualify and be invited is the late Olivier Sanche who we all knew and miss. At least half the room has had lengthy passionate data center discussions with Olivier and would welcome his presence. Also, he would have helped us drink the bottles of fine wine served that evening.
What was discussed? Much of the topics revolved around the reality vs. the myths. How difficult it was to get the data center industry to move. What are really the issues and how misguided decisions are like bad investments that waste resources. Many of the conversations revolved around people, not technology.
One of the guys gave me a hard time and said Dave how come you aren't taking pictures this is an awesome crowd of people we have in the room. It would be great to have some pictures showing the old team back together. I talked to the friend later, and told him I've learned that taking pictures doesn't help future discussions as what gets discussed in the room, stays in the room.
This was our first data center social in this format and we are working on the next one for 7x24 Exchange in Orlando. If you see a room of 12 people in a private and you want to exchange a business card, sorry you can't get in, we're too busy, having some good laughs, telling great stories, and enjoying a good glass of wine. Discussing what the future of data centers should be like.
Many times what is promoted as thought leadership is who has the biggest market budget to sponsor an event and present a keynote. I think thought leadership comes from people who have the chance to exchange ideas that challenge the norm and break the rules. Like a Chaos Monkey. FYI, there were no Donkeys at our event. (see this post for explanation of Chaos Monkey and Donkeys.)