Watching the data center industry is sometimes like a Kobayashi Maru scenario, a no-win scenario. So much of what goes on is the same as what was done last year, the year before that, and the year before that. The rules are written to keep things relatively the same with small changes allowing the established players to keep on winning. Name a start-up like Instagram in the data center industry.
One of the most disruptive forces in the industry is Amazon Web Services, but so far it has mostly allowed the established players to modify their offerings to include private clouds. Companies like Zynga start in AWS, and move to wholesale space when they are ready to reduce costs which supports the normal growth of the data center industry.
James T. Kirk beat the no-win scenario by redefining the game.
James T. Kirk took the test three times while at Starfleet Academy. Prior to his third attempt, Kirk surreptitiously reprogrammed the simulator so that it was possible to rescue the freighter. This fact finally comes out in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as Kirk, Saavik and others appear marooned, near death. Saavik's response is, "Then you never faced that situation...faced death." Kirk replies, "I don't believe in the no-win scenario." Despite having cheated, Kirk had been awarded a commendation for "original thinking."
Which brings me to part of the conversation with Compass Data Center's Chris Crosby. Chris commented.
Professionally, I’m already enjoying the freedom of thinking clearly about building a brand again. I get to figure out my own personalized approach based upon all of my experiences and the input of incredibly bright friends and colleagues. It’s freeing and fun. It’s almost like a disease when you want to have everincreasing responsibilities.
I had a whole summer off where I fielded a lot of phone calls and gained a lot of perspective. It was healthy for me. I got disassociated from the personalities of the business and now have a clear refreshed perspective on the business potential.
One way to describe what Chris is trying to do and where we connect on ideas is there are a lot of things that occur that don't make sense. It is like the scene in Moneyball where the scout makes a comment about a players girlfriend.
"Ugly girlfriend means bad eyesight," warned the scout.
Says Pitt, "We put a version of that line in the script, 'Ugly girlfriend means no confidence.' But what he really said was 'bad eyesight.'"
What is needed is a different way to play the game. Play the game to win with much less money.
Slate has an article that goes into a lot more detail of Michael Lewis and Billy Beane.
But “Moneyball” is also a phenomenon, which after changing baseball is now sweeping almost all ballgames, from British soccer to Australian rules football. And it’s a phenomenon that reaches beyond sport. With hindsight, what Lewis captures in his book—the triumph of the highly educated over the lesser educated—is exactly what happened in the American economy.
Changing. Being innovative is hard. And just as the established scouts protested...
Innovation hurts. After Beane began using numbers to find players, the A’s’ scouts lost their lifelong purpose. In the movie, one of them protests to Pitt: “You are discarding what scouts have done for 150 years.” That was exactly right. Similar fates had been befalling all sorts of lesser-educated American men for years, though the process is more noticeable now than it was in 2003 when Moneyball first appeared. The book, Lewis agrees, is partly “about the intellectualisation of a previously not intellectual job. This has happened in other spheres of American life. I think the reason I saw the story so quickly is, this is exactly what happened on Wall Street while I was there. You had the equivalent of the old school…”
The executives were even more shocked.
But the former ballplayers who then ran baseball were even more aghast. The notion that numbers could trump gut outraged them. Unfortunately for them, a year after the book appeared, the Boston Red Sox, with the 30-year-old Yale graduate Theo Epstein as general manager, won the world series of 2004 using Moneyball methods. In 2007 the Red Sox won again. Other teams began hiring Epsteins and Beanes rather than clubbable ex-players. Last season only three of 30 GMs in the major leagues had played professional baseball, none of them very successfully. Beane has ended up restricting job opportunities in baseball for people from backgrounds like Beane’s.
So, what is the secret that Chris Crosby is working on, looking at the numbers. He'll be writing about it on his own blog posts, then we'll discuss it publicly. But, I don't plan on writing a book on the story and turning it into a movie. :-) It is much more fun thinking of ways to help Chris in his vision.
However, the people who make this objection don’t seem to grasp the basic principles of imitation and catch-up. Once all teams are playing Moneyball, then playing Moneyball no longer gives you an edge. Indeed, the richer clubs have the means to play it smarter. The New York Yankees recently hired 21 statisticians, Beane marvels.
There are some interesting people working on the Compass Data Center system. People who don't like to the no-win situation in data centers, and get it how MoneyBall ideas can change the game.