Intelligent Data Centres Issue 3 - Page 66

Content sponsered by the DCA DEEP DIVE WE ‘DEEP DIVE’ WITH STEVE BOWES-PHIPPS, SENIOR CONSULTANT IN THE DATA CENTRE PRACTICE AT PTS CONSULTING, WHO TELLS US ABOUT LIFE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE OFFICE. In his current role, Bowes-Phipps is involved with all elements of the data centre stack – from strategy to procurement to fit- out to design validation to data centre migrations and operational excellence. What first prompted your interest in a career in technology/data centres? In terms of data centres, I kind of fell into that which I think is pretty common amongst my peers. I was at a credit card bank where I was looking after all the back-end processing and got promoted. The IT director turned around and said ‘you’re now running the data centres’ and I kind of thought ‘who runs the data centres – don’t they run themselves? Isn’t that a facilities thing?’. Of course, in those days you didn’t have very high-powered equipment, so you could put your servers anywhere and most were the ones I looked after so I managed where they would go. Then, around 2000 it all started to change when the higher-powered chips started to come in. They used a lot more energy and the traditional data centre power and cooling model couldn’t cope with those high levels of power required. They just didn’t have the capacity so there was a worry we were advancing to a state we couldn’t actually support. 66 Issue Issue 03 03 So then the ‘data centre’ itself became a specialist niche in IT because you now had to put some thought into it. You couldn’t just put servers anywhere – you had to think about whether you could cool them or power them. As the importance of this increased, I then made that transition into sitting centre stage between IT and the facility M&E. What would you describe as your most memorable achievement within the data centre sector? I am extremely proud to have won multi- national industry awards while working at a university, for data centre efficiency and operational efficiency. While at the university, we also entered a higher and further education award called the Green Gowns which focuses on sustainability within the education sector – and there’s a particular award for ‘Green IT’, which is fairly broad, so to win it for my data centre was really special. What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position? I think it’s very nurturing: I work with a range of different people, with different skillsets and different levels of experience. It’s all about being very explicit in what it is that you need from people and how they can support you. It is also about being very fair and feeding back constantly to make sure they’re on the right path or to check whether they’ve slightly moved off it. I cannot afford for someone to go off on a completely different route but I also don’t want to micromanage so it’s about striking that balance. What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space? With the Edge and Fog, Mist, Cloud, or however you want to label it, software is driving all of the improvements and management of data centres to the point where pretty much everything will have some sort of software management which is just as or even more important than the physical pieces, pulling it all together to work in harmony. Tomorrow’s cooling engineers and electrical engineers will have to be more adept at the software side than the