Executive Insights: Andrew Schaap of Aligned Energy
The Data Center Frontier Executive Roundtable features insights from industry executives with lengthy experience in the data center industry. Here’s a look at the insights from Andrew Schaap, CEO of Aligned Data Centers.
As CEO of Aligned Energy, Andrew Schaap is responsible for business growth and promoting the availability of Aligned Energy’s data center and build-to-scale solutions to cloud, telecom, enterprise and managed service providers. Prior to joining Aligned Energy, Andrew held numerous leadership positions over an 11-year period with Digital Realty Trust (NYSE: DLR). Most recently serving as Senior Vice President, he was responsible for global large-scale, client-driven data center builds and was part of the executive leadership team that grew revenue to $2 billion. He also oversaw all major international transactions, including the successful negotiation and execution of projects in Osaka, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney. Prior to Digital Realty Trust, Schaap held leadership roles at Sterling Network Services and Sysix Technologies. Andrew holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Marketing from Cornerstone University, as well as a graduate programs in Executive Negotiations and Management Training from Harvard University.
Here’s the full text of Andrew Schaap’s insights from our Executive Roundtable:
Data Center Frontier: The recent British Airways data center outage caused widespread disruption to the airline’s operations, with early estimates placing its business impact at more than 80 million pounds ($104 million US). What are the most effective ways to eliminate these type of outages?
Andrew Schaap: It has been widely reported how much data center outages cost businesses not just in capital losses, but also to reputation and brand over the long-term. To help avoid these critical disruptions – not just in the airline industry, but across all business sectors – it’s important for company leadership to take an in-depth look at their existing technology systems – both hardware and software – and consider updating those systems to meet the demands of today’s ever-evolving digital world.
According to a 2016 Gartner report, digital business, 24/7 operations, cyberattacks and more business disruptions are switching the conversation from recovery to resilience. Continuous monitoring of your resilience will allow IT to take proactive measures to improve it without the risk of failure. But even today, a year after the report was published, businesses expect resiliency to be built into the application. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to eliminate outages is for management to select specific availability zones that are best suited to meet their needs. If one area has overflow, administrators can distribute that traffic out to other locations.
Data Center Frontier: The data center industry saw lots of active M&A activity in the first half of 2017, highlighted by Digital Realty’s acquisition of DuPont Fabros Technology is the sector’s largest deal yet. What’s driving all this consolidation? Is it likely to continue?
Andrew Schaap: Wall Street has high expectations for the large data center REITs, which have experienced a lot of growth in recent years because the demand for information storage is so high and continues to grow every day. In this highly competitive market, it’s an arms race for these public companies to acquire additional revenue and footprint in order to scale. The consolidation is likely to continue because management has to search smaller and untapped markets that are under-served.
One of the best ways to do this is to acquire other companies who already have a presence in these markets, because the barriers of entry and the time and capital it takes to expand footprint is high. In fact, one of the reasons I joined Aligned Energy, which is a privately-held company, is because we have the ability to say “yes” to more opportunities whereas the publicly-traded companies have a more difficult time getting decisions approved and look to acquire in order to expand into new territories.
Data Center Frontier: What interesting trends are you seeing in data center power? Is there still room for innovation in data center electric infrastructure?
Andrew Schaap: There is always room for innovation, especially in data center power, because innovation is all about efficiency. It’s an important initiative for our industry collectively to come together and identify new solutions to help make data centers more energy efficient. Based on current trend estimates, data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020. The good news is that we have made a lot of progress in the last few years.
At Aligned Energy, we are looking for ways to innovate at all levels within our electrical and mechanical infrastructure. As our growing market continues to consume natural resources in order to operate, you will continue to see innovation happening at every level inside the data center.
Data Center Frontier: It’s increasingly a multi-cloud world. What are key strategies that data center operators and their customers can use to address multi-cloud deployments?
Andrew Schaap: Actually, I would argue that it’s fast-becoming a hybrid-cloud world because many companies are dealing with multiple clouds, data sources and vendors. While businesses continue to think about their scalability, it’s important for their data center provider to be able to future-proof their site selection criteria; meaning not just plan for their density needs today, but for future growth. Organizations are only as agile, fast, and visionary as their data centers.
Cloud, colocation, or on premise, the data center is the factory of the digital age. Success requires a data center partner who can deliver space, cooling, power and network capacity nimbly and quickly and has a strategic vision for how to meet the capacity needs of tomorrow.