Uptime Institute Founder Ken Brill Passes Away


Kenneth Brill, one of the data center industry’s thought leaders for decades, passed away on Tuesday. Brill was the founder of The Uptime Institute, and developed the Tier System that continues as one of the primary measures of data center reliability. He was also one of the founding members of the 7×24 Exchange and the founder of Upsite Technologies.

“Ken Brill was a rare and special man,” said Martin McCarthy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The 451 Group, the parent company of the Uptime Institute. “Part visionary thinker, part ruthless pragmatist, he was an iconoclast and innovator, and a man of great integrity and passion. He is legitimately known around the world as ‘The Father of the Data Center Industry.’ On behalf of our firm, the clients that Ken devoted his life to serving, and the overall global IT industry, we collectively mourn his passing, and express our condolences to his family and intimates. We will all deeply miss this brilliant and bristly individual.”

Brill’s thought leadership in the data center space spanned 30 years and led to increased efficiency and higher performing data centers. He consistently challenged the industry to develop better solutions for data center operations and efficiency. His focus on data center efficiency led Brill to develop the Uptime Tier System, a widely-adopted tiered system for evaluating and classifying data center availability levels.

“Ken Brill was inspired in his thinking, and resolute in his principles,” said Julian Kudritzki, COO of Uptime Institute. “As a personality and an innovator, he left an indelible imprint on the IT and data center industry. His innovations are so fundamental to the progression of the data center industry over time that it is difficult to believe they can be traced back to the energy and passion of a single man. With Ken’s passing, the industry mourns a ferocious critic and committed agent of change.”

In 2001 Brill founded Upsite Technologies, a leader in data center airflow management solutions.

“Ken was a highly respected and influential leader in the data center industry,” said John Thornell, President of Upsite Technologies. “Not only did Ken create a product line to help data center operators manage airflow more efficiently, his passion and practicality for improving the industry led to his founding of a number of organizations where thought leaders could come together in a collaborative environment to further the cause of data center efficiency. Everyone at Upsite Technologies extends their heartfelt condolences to Ken’s family during this difficult time.”

Brill received Lifetime Achievement Awards from 7×24 Exchange International and Datacenter Dynamics. He held an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Redlands and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

I saw Ken often at industry conferences, and we always had lively conversations about the data center industry – past, present and future. He was a rich source of perspective on the industry’s evolution and the ongoing effort to operate data centers more efficiently. He will be missed.

Here’s a video conversation we had in 2009, in which Ken discusses the need for executive leadership in the C-suite to acknowledge the importance of the data center, a topic which remains extraordinarily relevant today.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Ken Koty

    As the former facilities managers of the Thomson Reuters data centers I am always interested in the latest on what is happening in today's data centers

  2. Frank Atkinson

    I am extremely lucky to have known Ken for over 30 years, since the UUG days...always interested , engaged and willing to share knowledge and his take on IT future challenges...he will be missed.