Editor's Note: Data center member organization AFCOM interviewed Carrie Goetz, principal and CTO of strategIT.com, on the data center industry and its impact on the world. Carrie is a member of AFCOM’s Data Center Institute (DCI) and she has 40 years of global experience designing, running, and auditing data centers, IT departments, and intelligent buildings.
AFCOM: This past year, what has been the greatest challenge you’ve had to face within the data center industry? How have you overcome it?
The greatest challenge would probably be the volatility of projects. Part of that is due to the supply chain, part of that is due to layoffs, and part of that is due to revenue and inflation. I mean, name 100 reasons—they’re all there and they’re all perfectly valid. But the bottom line is, projects that were slated to start didn’t start, projects that started got halted until after the first of the year, or they’re held up waiting on supply chain stuff.
It’s been tough for companies. There’s a lot of companies now looking at layoffs that were definitely in a growth mode. There are companies that are in a growth mode that are currently dealing with legislation or some other hitch. Right now, it seems like everybody’s at the mercy or something.
Luckily, though, I’ve been agile and turned a lot of projects on their head and also been able to get a technical writing done, which of course includes publishing my own book.
AFCOM: How do your data centers interact or give back to their local environments or communities? How do you hope to give back in the future?
Well, I go over all over the place, so I’m not involved in any degree of granularity with just one data center. But I will say that a large component of this book I’ve written is funding scholarships for trades and certifications in school and bringing tech to disadvantaged areas. For example, I got to team up with Nomad Futurist for this first chunk to see where we can make the most impact.
However, in my opinion, we’ve been talking about talent pipelines and getting people into this industry forever and the problem is how do you bring somebody into an industry if they have no clue what it is? People won’t even apply for jobs if they don’t know what’s out there.
So I decided we would remedy that. That’s exactly what my book does: it covers everything, from power to cooling insights to coding to operations to infrastructure management to project management … I mean, there’s all kinds of components in there. And I really made sure to highlight careers for women and veterans, although it’s certainly applicable to everyone. There’s only 31% of the adult population with a degree and we’re not going to fill the talent pipeline with only 31%. And sure, while a degree is nice to have, most people can get trained and get started pretty quickly.
AFCOM: If you could build a data center anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d love to have a data center at the beach just because I like the beach, but. [Laughs.] It’s not the best place for one. You know, I don’t know that there’s a single place I’d pick, but I’m very excited to see some of the new solutions that are coming out that are bringing components and data centers—even edge data centers—to people that otherwise wouldn’t have had access to them. So, for me, it’s not one data center location, it’s a lot of data center locations where people haven’t had any kind of options before.
AFCOM: What recent data center trends have made you the most excited or enthusiastic?
One thing that’s really exciting is that now, especially with cloud-native, is that companies are starting to pay attention to the environment. We’re at a precipice now where there’s a cost to data. There’s a carbon cost, and there’s certainly a human cost, especially if you look at some of the technologies that support our industry and the child labor and whatnot that’s involved in making them. So there’s definitely a human toll.
But the good thing is that we’re starting to see a little more responsibility around compute. And hopefully we have new technologies on the rise that are going to make things better for everyone involved, and hopefully allow us to get some out of these horrible labor markets that really bastardize people for the sake of technology.
AFCOM: What do you personally hope to accomplish in the next decade? What do you hope the data center industry as a whole is able to accomplish in the next decade?
For me? I hope to retire in the next decade. I want to have a beer in hand. Dude, I’m ready.
No, but I’m definitely going to do some giving back on my way out of the industry. I’m not a spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination, but I want to make an impactful difference as I leave and hopefully improve that talent pipeline.
Truly, though, I think the biggest potential for the data century industry to have the most impact is to bring together people from all walks of life and to do so with kindness and compassion, which is something that I think technology has missed. The 24-hour news cycle and social media are two of the best and worst things that have happened to our planet, and I think the fact that people use technology to be cruel and mean is something I hope that stops soon. I believe this industry in particular has the ability to accept and invite people from anywhere, and it has the ability to affect kindness and change. I hope that the industry uses that potential for good over the next 10 years.